By Paul Chaffee
If ‘interfaith’ is considered a big tent, you might say it covers the whole of humankind and our relationships, includes indeed all that lives, according to so many traditions. The 21st century really is different because we’re much more connected with each other, and our networks grow each day. So many changes in a few years, so many strangers who’ve become friends! Interfaith stories and issues are commonplace now in major media as well as niche markets. Appreciating diversity and pluralism is being celebrated as a golden, global value in an all-too-violent world. Grassroots interfaith dialogue and interspiritual activities are experiencing exponential growth. Likewise, peacemaking and climate change action is breaking out all over the globe in the form of interreligious collaboration. Hallelujah! Om Shanti!
This sudden increase of blessings, though, loses much of its richness and interest if a key element goes lacking, the actual human connection between you and a stranger. Whatever the arena, we need to learn to meet each ‘other’ as unique, beautiful, valuable creatures capable of treasuring a multitude of different traditions. At some point, a human touch cuts across our cultural differences, ushering in a much closer relationship with someone who is no longer ‘other.’ When that happens, a black & white world takes back its color.
Ruth Broyde Sharone has a particular gift for conveying the vital human interactions which can make interfaith interaction powerful and transformative. A devoted Jew, she has a prodigious appetite for meeting and relating to people from all traditions all over the world. She has spoken at hundreds of interfaith forums in dozens of countries. From some 50 articles she has written for TIO these past five years, a number read like travelogues of the heart. Perhaps the best in this vein is what she wrote for this issue of TIO, Varanasi Now and Forever, following her recent trip to India with her daughter.
Ruth is equally compelling in exploring and championing interfaith peace and justice issues and activism, particularly at the grassroots level. Her film, God and Allah Need to Talk and her memoire, MINEFIELDS & MIRACLES, testify to a deep, on-the-ground courageous commitment to peace among religions.
For TIO, Ruth’s provocative pieces about being proselytized at a fundamentalist temple, and her confrontation with a religious bigot in her own tradition, are among the best of the 1500+ stories TIO has published, and both can be found again in this issue.
You’ll find a dozen Sharone contributions inside. And below the photo is a list of Ruth Broyde Sharone’s whole TIO bibliography, with links included. You’ll also find a brief piece I wrote about being confounded, unbelieving, and finally overwhelmed by Ruth’s Interfaith – The Musical, a work in progress.
Ruth Broyde Sharone Contributions to The Interfaith Observer (TIO)
- A Timeless Woman with a Timely Message(Dec. 2011)
- When Dialogue is Not Enough (Feb. 2012)
- Ibtisam Mahameed, Not Afraid to Speak Out (March 2012)
- Interfaith Peacemaking on the Documentary Screen (May 2012)
- What’s Right with this Picture? (July 2012)
- Climbing a Holy Mountain for Peace (Sept. 2012)
- Interfaith Dialogue Flowering in Mexico (Sept. 2012)
- High Tea with Marcus and Mary (Nov. 2012)
- Looking Back – Interfaith 2012 (Dec. 2012)
- Interfaith-Active Artists Promote Peace with Story & Song(Jan. 2013)
- Crafting Costa Rica’s Commitment to Peace with Mother Earth (Feb. 2013)
- Marianne Williamson, Mystic Vision with a Social Conscience (May 2013)
- ‘Seeds of Peace’ Juxtaposes Meditation & the Engaged Life (June 2013)
- Grassroots Activists with a Global Outreach(July 2013)
- From Bozeman, Montana, to the World (Nov. 2013)
- A Christian and a Muslim, Jordanian Body-Builders, Can Cater Dinner(Dec. 2013)
- The Interfaith Movement Growing Exponentially (Dec. 2013)
- The Struggle for Interfaith Funding, and Interfaith Career Opportunities (Jan. 2014)
- Raheel Raza: Not Afraid of Getting into Trouble (March 2014)
- Learning the Art of Cultural Diplomacy in Rome (April 2014)
- An Interview with Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran (June 2014)
- The Expanding Interreligious Horizon at Hartford Seminary (July 2014)
- A Muslim Initiative Addresses Radicalization of Young People (Sept. 2014)
- A Personal Reminiscence of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (Sept. 2014)
- Greg Harder and Mastery of Interfaith Social Media (Oct. 2014)
- Will We Become A Nation of Hybrids? (Nov. 2014)
- Laurie Zoloth Calls American Academy of Religion to Account (Dec. 2014)
- Religion Inside Out: The Story of One Person Collaborating (Jan. 2015)
- First All-Women Mosque in America Launched (Feb. 2015)
- Science and Spirituality Join Forces for Water (March 2015)
- Living the Gandhi Dream in Ahmedabad (April 2015)
- Pope Francis & Rabbi Skorka: Forging a Deeper Relationship (May 2015)
- The Sacred Power of Indigenous Women Threatened (June 2015)
- Toward an Ecological Civilization(July 2015)
- “This Is No Place for a Zero Sum Game” (Sept. 2015)
- Spontaneous Interfaith Relationships(Oct. 2015)
- In the Face of Proselytizing (Dec. 2015)
- Ret. Lt. Colonel Shareda Hosein: Not Your Average Army Officer (Jan. 2016)
- Muslims for Progressive Values Takes on Wahhabism(Feb. 2016)
- Varanasi Now and Forever(April 2016)