Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Eboo Patel and Interfaith Work

Faithfully Liberal, a blog created by two young seminarians -- now graduated -- has posted a wonderful interview with Eboo Patel, a young Muslim who is committed to developing interfaith conversation and service.

The interview discusses the Interfaith Core Youth project, which Patel directs, but it goes beyond that to discuss the importance of the conversation and the importance of young people being part of the conversation.

I found this passage especially intriguing:

The esteemed writer W.E.B. Du Bois wrote in his book, The Souls of Black Folk the problem of the 20th century will be the color line. While the problem of the color line has not been fully solved, I believe that the problem of the 21st century is the faith line. This line does not separate Muslims from Christians, or Jews from Hindus, but rather religious totalitarians from pluralists. A religious totalitarian is someone who seeks to suffocate those who are different from them. Their weapons range from suicide bombs to media empires. A pluralist is someone who seeks to live with people who are different, be enriched by them, and peacefully coexist in the world together. From the words of the poet Gwendolyn Brooks,

We are each other’s business

We are each other’s harvest

We are each other’s magnitude and bond

Religious totalitarians have been very successful in recruiting young people to be the foot soldiers of their wars. It is imperative to give young people spaces to express and develop their faith identity outside of the church or mosque. Meaning, we have to give young people the tools they need to be successful Christians, not just in church, but in the world. We believe that IFYC’s methodology creates these spaces, and empowers young people to develop and articulate their faith identity.

This is an intriguing comparison that needs further unpacking.

By the way, Patel has a new book coming out from Beacon Press in July: Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim; the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

Glad that you liked the interview. He does some great work with his organization.