This was really interesting, and it was a quick read.
Three women from three different faiths get together to talk about their respective beliefs. It was informative, because I learned things about some of them that I didn’t know. The overall message; that they all pray to the same god, and all have the same BASIC beliefs was a good one, but one I already knew. As an atheist, it’s really annoying to watch religions bicker with one another, so that part of the book was refreshing. I especially liked that they all attended different religious celebrations with one another, and were teaching their children to be open-minded and accepting of religions different than their own. Lucky kids, because children these days are rarely exposed to that kind of open diversity.
And some parts, especially when Ranya talks about why she has faith, made me wish I was religious. It’s something I’ve wished every now and again. But I haven’t believed in God since I was about 7, and just can’t bring myself to now. I also dislike the idea of belonging to a religious group. I don’t believe in a deity, but I like to think I’m still a spiritual person, and that’s usually good enough for me. The way these women describe their faith is powerful though; powerful enough to help me understand why so many people adhere to religion, and to see the beauty in it.
Anyways, the discussions were interesting. The ladies remained respectful, but still argued when they felt something was important. And I learned a lot about the Israeli / Palestinian conflict, which I admittedly knew nothing about. I also appreciated that these women addressed the issue of rituals in religion – that though designed to unite, it actually excludes non-members, or members that don’t feel the rituals are necessary to their beliefs. It’s sad that Ranya feels excluded from the Muslim community because she doesn’t wear a head scarf, but she’s adamant about religion being about your personal relationship with your religion, not about social or cultural issues like what to wear, whether or not to use birth control, whether to eat kosher, etc.
Sadly, the last hundred pages of the book were kind of annoying. While the beginning was great because they had some intense discussions, and the second was great because they all came to appreciate their faiths and seemed more at peace with themselves than ever before, the last part of the book sucked because they got all doubtful about religion. Again. Listening to all three of them saying “Well, the Faith Club strengthened my beliefs… but now I’m feeling doubtful again” kind of seemed to defeat the purpose of the book. I wish they had ended it about 50 pages earlier.
Overall though, this was a good book and I enjoyed it.
*Also, on Goodreads and Amazon I noticed that some of the reviewers gave the book a bad rating because these women weren’t “strong enough in their convictions to start with”, or because “so-and-so didn’t represent my religion the way I practice it” or “Ranya / Priscilla / Suzanne isn’t a REAL Muslim / Jew / Christian”. I think these people really over-looked the message open-mindedness and not judging others that was the big theme of the book. Sheesh.