Book Review: Beyond Tolerance

Written by on March 22, 2010 in Books

Beyond ToleranceThough warriors of peace are certainly not hiding in the shadows, it often seems as though they are because of the media attention to those who preach and practice intolerance. To help shine a light on this important and inspirational work, Gustav Niebuhr in Beyond Tolerance profiles the efforts of organizations and individuals rooted in different faiths, but working together to build their communities and help those in need. Through their cooperative labor they not only create a better life for themselves and those of their faith, but along the way they discover the essential ties of love and compassion connecting every faith. Niebuhr echoes Martin Luther King, Jr. in calling this a “Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief.” Niebuhr eagerly notes that many interfaith groups came together in response to 9/11, dispelling the mis-belief of the time that ecumenicism was impossible.

Writing in spare, direct prose, Niebuhr argues that in this time of continued strained interfaith relations, an ecumenical spirit is not only possible, but essential: “We can hardly discount the possibility,” he writes, “that a single individual emerging from an encounter with someone of a different faith convinced that they share a common humanity might make a difference. Occasionally, one person can stop a mob.” Whether the individuals profiled in Beyond Tolerance will indeed stem the rising tide of intolerance remains to be seen, but their efforts and Niebuhr’s sentiments deserve a fervent “amen.”

Beyond Tolerance: Searching for Interfaith Understanding in America (The Documents of 20th-century art)

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