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Review of The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew – Three Women Search For Understanding by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner

Review by Jeannie Dortch. Photo by Janet Chase.

Most people feel safer when surrounded by like-minded individuals. Conversations that produce angst, confusion or fear are usually avoided, certainly if those conversations are about religion or politics!

In The Faith Club, three women of different faiths begin to acknowledge and, with genuine candor, shatter long-held assumptions about each other’s respective faiths. As New York City residents, all are acquainted with grief, alienation and prejudice, but are also full of courage, patience and love. The Faith ClubThey meet to write a children’s book, but begin an interfaith dialogue that changes their project and their perspectives about expectations of life and death. Their relationship evolves from superficial to penetrating and profound as thoughts and feelings begin, at times, to jeopardize their hard-won friendships.

This story is so appealing because it hikes trails the reader wants to explore but seldom has the necessary traveling companions or audacity. Conversations about heaven progress into the inevitable “who’s in and who’s out.” Discussions of death lead to questions about the reality of the afterlife and the misconceptions each holds about the others’ beliefs. All this talk is set against the tensions of different cultures, family loyalties, and religious doctrines.

In the end, they use their weekly meetings, outside readings, visits to places of worship, and meetings with varied religious leaders to better explain faith to their children and to themselves. This journey is possible with a growing and abiding trust in themselves, each other, God, and their mission.

Their questioning leads them to “truths that set them free,” but also to the hope that what they discovered is possible for any of us willing to ascend our own mountains of misunderstanding and uncertainty. If successful, reconciliation with those of different faiths might be possible for more than just these three determined women in New York City. It might be possible for us too.

Editor’s note: The Faith Club is available in First Word, FBC’s library.
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