The goal of our discussions is the slow, thoughtful work of getting to know one another over good books. As we engage with the books we explore the meanings, shape and practices of our own and one another’s religious experiences. We are not interfaith dialogue groups, nor do we read books where the focus of the content is political.
Occasionally, groups may include activities that build community or explore one of the three religions through films, visits to a site, sharing music or attending a lecture. However, the focus always returns to gaining a deeper understanding of each other’s faith traditions.
Anyone can start a casual book group, but to start a Daughters of Abraham book group there are certain core elements or conditions that members follow:
- Members speak from their own experiences rather than as spokesperson their religion
- Members agree to the Daughters of Abraham ground rules
- All three religions must be represented in the group
- Co-leaders are made up of one member from each faith
- If any member strongly objects to reading a particular book, the group does not read it
- The focus of meetings is always the book. This creates safe space which allows each woman to decide how much to share on a personal level
We have also found it useful to follow a set of “Principles for Interreligous Dialogue” (PDF) to guide our discussions.
The following rules enable us to provide a safe space for discussion:
- Listen to each other
- Do not interrupt
- Do not monopolize the conversation; make sure that everyone who wishes to speak gets a chance to contribute
- Speak respectfully to each other
- Speak from personal experience, rather than making broad sweeping statements
- Do not criticize another member or a faith tradition (including a denomination or group within your own faith tradition)
- If someone hits a sore point, speak up during the meeting. If you are able, talk directly to the person who offended you after the meeting. If you cannot work things out, speak to your leader and ask for help
- Since we are a book group with diverse membership, the Daughters of Abraham does not endorse any political candidates or cause. Any member of the group is free to support any cause in her own name
- Be mindful about scheduling book group meetings on any of our respective holidays