Exploring “Acts of Faith”
Gail Forsyth-Vail is the Adult Programs Director in the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Office of Ministries and Faith Development.
In recognition of the many ways in which Unitarian Universalists are called to carry their faith into the world, including standing on the side of love with immigrant families and GLBT people and families, Acts of Faith by Eboo Patel (Beacon Press, 2008), has been chosen as this year’s UUA Common Read. Congregations and individuals are invited to read the book, and then to gather to share reflections and personal stories and to consider how to apply wisdom from the book in their congregations and social justice and service work.The discussion guide, which is free online, offer materials for a single 90 minute session or for three 90 minute sessions, each expandable to two hours, and is suitable for adult groups, campus groups, youth groups, and mixed generation groups.
“..The twenty-first century,” writes Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) founder Eboo Patel, “will be shaped by the question of the faith line. On one side of the faith line are religious totalitarians…On the other side of the faith line are the religious pluralists, who hold that people believing in different creeds and belonging to different communities need to learn to live together…It is the belief that that common good is best served when each community has a chance to make its unique contribution.” In his memoir, Patel shares his faith journey as an American Muslim and frankly discusses the appeal of religious fundamentalism to young people, observing that young people’s spiritual hunger entwines with their desire to make a mark on the world. Patel challenges those who believe in religious pluralism to support young people, providing what is needed to help them ground themselves in a faith that both fuels their deepest passions and feeds their cooperation across faiths to make the world a better place.
Although Patel’s work specifically addresses the often untapped strength of young people, his work and his writing offer something much broader. His work challenges Unitarian Universalists and other religious liberals to ground their justice-making and service work not just in ideas about public policy or politics, but in deeply rooted spiritual values and beliefs. It is only in joining action to spiritual reflection and celebration that we are able to sustain justice making work for the long haul.
Join in reading, discussing, reflecting, and acting. Organize a discussion group in your congregation, district, campus group, or on-line community. Gather with other religious pluralists in faith-based justice making and service, bringing more love into our world!