Title: Not in God’s Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict
Author: Paula Fouce
Publisher: Paradise Filmworks International
“We’re all praying to the same Divine, which is called by many names or no name at all.” In her new book, NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT, Paula Fouce searches for solutions to end the escalating violence between religious groups. She has lived and worked in many South Asian countries including India, Tibet, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Kashmir, where she experienced a variety of vast cultural and religious diversity. But Fouce came face-to-face with the destructiveness of religious-based conflict while in India when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.
As a result of Gandhi’s murder, thousands of Sikhs were massacred. Fouce escaped unharmed, but she was shaken by the explosion of violence from a people who had treated her with care and compassion before the death of their leader. The experience prompted Fouce to undergo a personal quest to understand the reasons behind the intolerance. What was the genesis of violent religion-inspired conflicts – the underlying chaos that has led to major violent conflicts such as the Crusades (1095–1291), the Partition of India in 1947, the 2009 Mumbai attacks, the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, the 2015 Paris attacks, and other religion-inspired conflicts?
In NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT, Fouce shares her journey for spiritual enlightenment that began after she survived a car crash in which she was thrown from the vehicle. After her recovery, Fouce traveled to India in 1974 for a semester of study focused on Hindu and Buddhist art. During an early trip,Fouce met Mother Teresa. She returned to India after graduating from college to continue her spiritual exploration, export art, and guide luxury tours.
NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT discusses the histories of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity, as well as Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, and other religions. Fouce spoke with several leaders in the religious tolerance movement, including the Dalai Lama; Mark Juergensmeyer, professor of Religion at the University of California, Santa Barbara; Dr. Karan Singh, a member of India’s Upper House of Parliament; and Dr. Joseph Prabhu, a trustee of the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions. In the book, the author asks probing questions of faith leaders and scholars in order to devise solutions for ending the violence among religious groups.
“Although there are differences, we can develop a deep respect for all faith traditions that contribute untold richness to our civilization. Religious tolerance is our greatest tool for promoting world peace,” Fouce says. She identifies specific causes of religious intolerance and offers solutions for bringing the world’s faiths together.
After escaping the Indian religious riots in 1984, Fouce was “was struck with how religion had been twisted and used to create dissention and violence, the antithesis of its intention. My point of view is focused on how to bridge our differences; and my book goes into detail, even describing the compassion training that is now taught in many top universities.” Over the three-year period that Fouce worked on NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT, she used the transcripts from interviews for the film documentary of the same title (which was aired on PBS stations nationwide) and researched news stories of current religious conflicts. “Education is sorely needed to ensure a peaceful world where it is understood that diversity is not a threat or a detriment to one’s own good. Diversity is to be celebrated,” Fouce says. “Our unquestionable right as human beings is to freely worship the God of our understanding and to follow that spiritual path whose practices support our doing so.”
Fouce’s purpose for writing NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT is to help the reader to understand that there are solutions to religious intolerance. “How do we change the minds of violent fundamentalists? This is the real task ahead, together with preventing people from being attracted to such ideology in the first place. Can we find a middle ground, a live-and-let live coexistence? Herein lies the only answer to the challenge of creating a peaceful future with acceptance. The continued existence of the human race depends on it.”
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