On the bookshelf
Religions + relevance
“I thought I knew my religion.” — That type of dawning can make a teacher sing. It was vocalized by a student in Dr. Irfan Omar’s Theology, Violence and Nonviolence class and expresses volumes about what Omar and faculty colleague Dr. Michael Duffey set out to achieve in their book, Peace-making and the Challenge of Violence in World Religions.
The book explores traditions of peace-making, violence and nonviolence in the practices of the seven great world religions in front-to-back chapters of essays written by scholars of each tradition: Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Native American.
Students don’t get enough exposure to other religions, according to Omar, an associate professor of theology. He uses this book as the textbook for his course to address that void. “Readers get to unpack” the religious practices, Omar explains, and see their similarities, differences and rationales for violence as well as commitments to peace and justice.
Ultimately, he says, the goal is to open up new ways of thinking in students. “In a theology course it is my responsibility to help students see religious traditions as part of the solution and a fundamental resource to understand the challenges we face in the world today,” he says.