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Book Review

David A. Hart

Multi-faith Britain

An experiment in worship

ISBN 1 903816 08 4

O Books, Hampshire, UK, 2002, 8.99

(price at publication of review)


Reviewed September 2004; © Copyright, The Society of Saint Francis, 2004

This thought provoking book comes out of the experience of inter-faith dialogue promoted by the University of Derby.  The enterprise of working together to create a 'village of spaces' rather than a row of synagogue / temple / mosque / church buildings on the university campus has enabled the coming together of  the writers of  this collection of essays.

The essays fall into two sections.  The first is a scholarly attempt to look at how the theology of a faith tradition is affected by the presence of other traditions making different truth claims.  Bahai, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh contributors share their thoughts on how their theology needs to adapt and perhaps lose its absolutism.

The second section looks at some of the outcomes of the interfaith debate in practical living.  One contributor suggests the need for an even wider Multi-Faith Religious Education in which pupils are taught not what to think but how to think!  An undergraduate considers whether young people have any need for religion and makes the point that knowing about religion without knowing about people is dangerous.  'A faith that does not claim to grasp the ultimate truth, but only reflects, examines and appreciates the splendour of the universe around us is perhaps the faith we must now choose.  It is a faith in each other.'  There is also a most moving account by a former police officer of his transition from Christianity to Buddhism - 'From Handcuffs to Hands Clasped'.

This collection of essays will make a valuable contribution to the debate about, not only how we live creatively in a multi-faith society, but also how we learn from each other and share our insights into the spiritual quest.  A must for those who love living with the questions!

Maureen Henderson



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