Here is a truly fresh approach to interfaith dialogue: through the creativity of artists inspired by their Muslim or Christian faith, and through the creative lives of people who give a human face to the beauty at the core of both faiths.
The book is divided into three Parts.
-Part One shows the centrality of God’s Beauty in both faiths.
-Part Two presents the sacred arts of both religions, with special attention to contemporary Christian and Muslim artists’ honoring of God’s Beauty.
-Part Three focuses on Christians’ and Muslims’ honoring of God’s Beauty in their behavior. Again, we focus on contemporary examples.
-After each Part we include a dialogue between a representative Christian and Muslim in which the two religions reflect, honestly and joyfully, on their similarities and differences.
You don’t need us to tell you that there is no more urgent issue in world affairs than the need of Western citizens to arrive at some deeper understanding of Islam. (And vice versa, of course!) But we also know how hard this is to achieve. There are so many hot-button issues that can lead to misunderstandings and raised tempers.
But what if we approached Islam not through the radioactive elements of political or theological contention, but on a different ground altogether? What if we were to ask how Christianity and Islam view beauty? There we might find a quiet space for contemplation and engagement—a pathway into a large and tangled realm. This is exactly what George Dardess and Peggy Rosenthal have done in their book Reclaiming Beauty for the Good of the World: Muslim and Christianity Creativity as Moral Power.
Thorough but accessible, the book contains many user-friendly elements, such as sections in which hypothetical Christians and Muslims engage in direct dialogue. Dardess, a Roman Catholic deacon, has become a leader in Christian-Muslim dialogue. Rosenthal, a blogger for Image as well as contributor to the print journal, brings her knowledge of poetry to bear on the topic. We’re proud that many of the works cited in the book have appeared in Image or are by authors we’ve published.
As Image editor Gregory Wolfe puts it in his endorsement of the book: “When exploring the relationship between Christianity and Islam, it is easy to fall into either rancor or sentimentality. Rosenthal and Dardess take a different approach: respectful of differences yet alert to authentic resonances, they remind us that in both traditions truth and goodness become distorted and harsh when they are separated from beauty. In short, they remind us that the spiritual core of these faiths is the profound connection between imagination and compassion. Urgent and yet accessible, this book deserves a wide readership.”
For those weary of the often tedious verbiage of Christian-Muslim dialogue, this lovely
volume provides a lyrical adventure into the world of religious art. Can we discover to-
gether, ask the authors, how the art and architecture, painting and poetry of our respec-
tive traditions help us understand the divine not only within ourselves but also within
each other? Rich in both classical and contemporary illustration, this work imagines how
art in its many forms might inspire a dialogue of mutual appreciation and commonality
far from the theological entanglements that often thwart the possibility of deep interfaith
engagement. A well researched, beautifully presented and completely delicious treat.
— Jane Smith, Harvard Divinity School Reclaiming Beauty for the Good of the World:
“Reclaiming Beauty for the Good of the World: Muslim & Christian Creativity as Moral Power is a fresh and engaging approach to interfaith dialogue. Exploring beauty in the context of Muslim and Christian faith, and relying on the transformative power of art, the narrative allows us to move beyond our political and theological differences. The discourse on interfaith beauty & art propels us to a unique level of awareness, one that embraces a common vision of a world bathed in the light of beauty.”
—Daisy Khan, Executive Director, American Society for Muslim Advancement.
“A sincere, searching and profound exploration of the transcendent message embodied in all that is beautiful and in all unlovely things that beauty transfigures; here Christian speaks to Muslim and Muslim to Christian, heart to heart.”
— Carol Zaleski, Professor of World Religions, Smith College
“When exploring the relationship between Christianity and Islam, it is easy to fall into either rancor or sentimentality. Rosenthal and Dardess take a different approach: respectful of differences yet alert to authentic resonances, they remind us that in both traditions truth and goodness become distorted and harsh when they are separated from beauty. In short, they remind us that the spiritual core of these faiths is the profound connection between imagination and compassion. Urgent and yet accessible, this book deserves a wide readership.”
—Gregory Wolfe, Editor, Image
“This is a work of genuine beauty, an intensely personal account of the beauty of Islam and Christianity that has resonated in the authors. As a Muslim, I learned a great deal from this unique work of art.”
— Sheikh Jamal Rahman, Seattle Interfaith Community Church, author of The Fragrance of Faith