Women Gather to Share, Learn In Religious Twist On Book Clubs

January 26, 2009

Author: Annysa Johnson

Source: The News & Observer


Jackie Purcell was telling a friend last week about her book club, an eclectic and ecumenical gathering of women that includes Christians, a Muslim and a Jew.

Well, that'll be contentious, he told her, given the renewed violence in the Middle East and the heightened tension it has created between Muslims and Jews around the world.

"But he doesn't get it," Purcell told 10 of her fellow club members gathered in a Glendale, Wis., living room Thursday night.

"This is the safest place to be ... where there is understanding on the table," said Purcell, an Episcopalian from Port Washington, Wis. "I can't imagine being anywhere but here when this is going on in the world."

Purcell and her fellow bibliophiles have come together as a "faith club" inspired by the 2006 book by three New York City women - a Christian, a Muslim and a Jew - whose collaboration on a children's book in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks gave way to a profound and sometimes difficult probing of their own and each others' faiths.

The resulting memoir, "The Faith Club," has generated hundreds of groups around the country, they say, founded by readers hungry for a more meaningful connection with people of different faiths.

"When you get to know another person as a human being, your whole thought process is forever altered. You can see the world from all ways," said "The Faith Club" co-author Priscilla Warner, who is Jewish.

See also: Interfaith, Women