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ISBN ### Inner Coherence

ISBN 978-0-8070-7726-9

My last ISBN ### post was eons ago in late August. I have been reading in the meantime but with all my travel and stress at work it's been primarily magazines on the run, friend's blogs in hotel rooms at night, and Sky Mall on the planes. Not exactly the Cannon, but between a National Geographic cover story on Pakistan, a self-guided meditation exercise in Spirituality & Health, "Women in Charge" from The Wilson Quarterly, and Cosmopolitan's 101 ways to skillfully [fill in the blank], I've been adequately entertained.

I will say however that I attended Eboo Patel's lecture and purchased Acts of Faith just in time. I read it over my weekend in Iowa and it saved me from yet another scan through Sky Mall and the temptation to order high-performance running sandals, Scandyna Micropod curvaceous speakers on sputnik spikes, or the full-height telescoping worktable that fits in my laptop case.

Acts of Faith is exactly what I needed to read right now. There is a lot going on in my non-work life lately that has yet to take shape, but is beginning to percolate. I know that talking back to this book will help me formulate the amorphous energy that's is as yet just hovering around me.

Patel's major thesis is a call to religious pluralism. He defines it in this way: "Pluralism is not a default position, an autopilot mode. Pluralism is an intentional commitment that is imprinted through action. It requires deliberate engagement with difference, outspoken loyalty to others, and proactive protection in the breach." I completely agree with his emphasis on action and have much to say about his qualifying statement: "There is a strong connection between finding a sense of inner coherence and developing a commitment to pluralism."

My observation is that people feel threatened by the idea of pluralism. More generally, people feel threatened by what is not circumscribed by their interpretation of their faith. This observation is true of people in many faiths, but I'll speak only about my most direct experience, people of the LDS faith. Somehow people feel that exposure to other perspectives, different versions of truth, new experiences, will detract from their faith and weaken their commitment. This fear is particularly prevalent in Utah's cloistered LDS community, but can apply, in some degree, to many organized religions the world over. Patel's phrase, "sense of inner coherence," resonated deeply with me and stands in sharp contrast to the fear of pluralism that I observe all around me. I can notice this pattern and understand it from an intellectual perspective - even from an historical perspective with the Mormon pioneers fleeing persecution and hunkering down in the mountains of Mexico in relative isolation - but yet I cannot relate in the least.

I struggle with the argument, for instance, that children should be entirely sheltered from "the world" (that *anyone* should be entirely sheltered from the world). In my opinion that does not at all respect one's faith. Rather, to me, that is the ultimate insult to one's faith. If you are a person of faith raising your child with certain values (not that religious people have an exclusive claim to raising children with values!) and you fear that at first exposure to *the other* your child is going to toss those values out the window...what are you saying about your faith and the values you taught your child? (Furthermore...the inherent right of each person to choose their own path trumps this entire discussion.)

If you are comfortable with yourself and confident in your faith, exposure to [whatever] is not something to be feared. Pluralism, seeing the value and truth in many faiths and in many ways of life (even actively seeking to know of that value), is not to be feared. Dr. Patel gave to me the exact words I've been searching for: "a sense of inner coherence" is essential for "developing a commitment to pluralism." Knowing who you are, loving who you are, and respecting who you are is absolutely required before you can comprehend, honor, and defend your beliefs. However, once on solid ground, you must be prepared to comprehend, honor, and defend the right of each and every person to believe or not believe as they will. This commitment has always been at the very core my faith, my identity as an American, my political agenda, and my interaction with the world...and all I can say to Eboo is "Amen."

ISBN ### Doctrine vs. Culture

Big Butts. Big Brains.