Strangers, Neighbors, Friends – Jewish, Christian and Muslim reflections

Strangers, Neighbors, Friends

Jewish, Christian and Muslim reflections

Principal Author and Editor: Kelly James Clark, Ph.D.

Co-authors: Aziz Abu Sarah and Nancy Fuchs Kreimer

“Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.”

Thomas Merton

Strangers, Neighbors, Friends is a collection of highly motivational and informational essays on Abrahamic approaches to neighbors, friends and even strangers. It is written by a Jew, a Christian, and a Muslim (each involved in justice and peace issues). Kelly James Clark is the editor of Abraham’s Children: Diversity and Dialogue in an Age of Religious Conflict (Yale University Press) and works at the Kaufman Interfaith Institute. Rabbi Nancy Kreimer is Director of the Department of Multifaith Studies and Initiatives at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. Aziz Abu-Sarah has won four peace prizes including the Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East, the Silver Rose Award from the European Parliament, the Eisenhower Medallion, and the Eliav-Sartawi Award.

The authors hope that the essays will both inform and inspire Abraham’s children that God calls us to extend our love beyond family and neighbor to the stranger. We aim to show that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have the spiritual and moral resources to motivate respect and love for those of very different faith traditions. This trade paperback offers faith-based defenses of issues in the neighborhood of religious liberty and tolerance: humility, respect, kindness toward strangers, hospitality, etc. We communicate in an easily digestible manner to this twitter and sound bite generation. In order to communicate effectively to adherents of each tradition, each three to five page chapter involves both an authoritative text (expounded in an engaging way) and a narrative; the case for kindness to strangers, for example, will be made by way of a Biblical passage or a Quranic Surah and a story (rather than by way of argument or sermonizing). We aim, through text and story, to move both the minds and hearts of deeply committed religious believers. Each author has also been asked to deal with the “dark side” of their authoritative texts and tradition—for example, the slaughter of the Canaanites (on the part of the Jewish tradition) or the call to kill the infidel (on the part of the Muslim tradition). Finally, while each author has been asked to address primarily members of their own faith community, they have been asked to present a winsome and informative glimpse of their religion for outsiders who might wish to peek into their tradition. In particular, they have been asked to “Communicate effectively what is good, beautiful, and true in your tradition to those who are outside of your tradition.”

“Fake News and Alternative Facts”


October 16-18. Oslo Norway. A symposium at the Norwegian Academy of Arts and Sciences examined the threat that fake news poses to democracy and public discourse. UCHI Director Michael Lynch spoke on Fake News and the Politics of Truth on the ways in which information pollution encourages epistemic arrogance and later participated in a press panel hosted by the Fritt Ord Foundation in Oslo. 

Clips on youtube here for the Fritt Ord event:

Kick This Rock: Climate Change and Our Common Reality | Michael Lynch | The Stone

June 5th, 2017

The 18th-century critic, Samuel Johnson, once tried to refute the Irish philosopher George Berkeley’s view that nothing is material by kicking a rock. “Thus I refute him!” he reportedly declared. For a long time, I thought this proved that Johnson should have kept to literary criticism and left philosophy to the professionals. Berkeley’s view, after all, was that everything we perceive is an idea — rocks (and rock-kicking) sensations included.

Read the full article at The Stone here.

Congratulations to Associate Prof. Micki McElya (H&C Core Faculty) whose book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize

Finalist: The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery, by Micki McElya (Harvard University Press)

For a luminous investigation of how policies and practices at Arlington National Cemetery have mirrored the nation’s fierce battles over race, politics, honor and loyalty.Politics of Mourning, McElya

‘Intellectual humility’ could be key to becoming a better person, scientists say | Andrew Griffin at the Independent

The study is rare in looking at the ‘wallflower among personality traits’

“Showing “intellectual humility” – recognising that you might be wrong about what you believe – is a reliable marker of how good people are at making choices and understanding, according to a new study.

The personality trait is little studied but doing so could shed light on how people make decisions in politics, health and other arenas, according to the researchers from Duke University.”

Read the full article by Andrew Griffin here at the Independent.


Get to Know Our Fellows: Four Questions with Maura Priest

Maura Priest is a residential research fellow with the Humanities Institute’s Humility and Conviction in Public Life Project

H&C: What is your academic background and what is your current position in UCHI/at UConn/Your Home Institution?

MP: I received my PhD and Master’s Degree in philosophy from the University of California, Irvine. I received my BA in philosophy (political science minor) from California State University, Fullerton.

H&C: What is the project you’re currently working on?

MP: I am currently working on two projects. The first is a mix of epistemology, ethics, and political philosophy. I seek to understand how ethical virtues function at the group and collective level. I focus in particular on intellectual humility, epistemic greed, and disagreement. I am also working on a project on manipulation. I want to define manipulation and explain the different variants of the character trait. I then explain how this trait can cause epistemic and moral harm in interpersonal relations. Lastly, I look at manipulation in respect to both private and governmental institutions. I am particularly interested in political manipulation and manipulative advertising.

H&C: How did you arrive at this topic?

MP: I have always been interested in the intersection of ethics, politics, and epistemology. I believe that the epistemic enterprise is an ethical enterprise, and that political institutions are bound by ethical and epistemic constraints. Hence ethics, epistemology, and political theory interact in important and underdiscussed ways. We cannot, for instance, fully understand moral virtue unless we understand epistemic virtue. Neither can we form moral and just political institutions without a clear understanding of the ethics of epistemology. This is because political institutions are highly epistemic in nature, i.e., electing the proper governing officials and creating just and fair laws supervenes on knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

H&C: What impact might your work have on a larger public understanding of your topic?

MP: I think my work is particularly relevant given the current political environment. For instance, although this might seem a time for academics to become cynical about the public and their ability to make just democratic choices, it is important to remain humble and listen to the perspectives of those with whom we strongly disagree. Unfortunately, at times like this, it is especially tempting to throw epistemic norms to the wayside for what might seem like the greater epistemic and moral good. However, a world in which manipulation and epistemic dishonestly become common in and around the university is a world even worse than the one we live in today. It is important to not let despair impede intellectual humility at the individual or group level. It is also critical that we are able to recognize vices like manipulation and epistemic arrogance for what they are. With this recognize such traits can be justly condemned by persons who refuse to stoop to the same level.