Purpose of this Discussion Guide
Interfaith cooperation happens when people come together to respect one another’s identities, build relationships, and take action for the common good. Use this discussion guide to spark conversations about the stories, theories, and concepts in Eboo Patel’s Sacred Ground and to explore how you can take interfaith action on your campus or in your community.
Use this discussion guide with a group to:
- Identify and articulate personal motivations for engaging in interfaith cooperation
- Develop interfaith literacy by sharing stories about the various religious and ethical identities represented in your group
- Identify action steps for building interfaith cooperation
How to Use this Guide
This guide can be used in one of two ways, based on the goals and structure of your group:
1. Use the entire discussion guide for 5 separate meetings to discuss the 5 sections in detail. (Recommended for course curriculum, interfaith clubs, faculty reading groups, or campus administration)
- Meeting 1 – Purpose of Discussion Guide and Introduction
- Meeting 2 – Part I – Ground Zero, The Muslim Menace, The Evangelical Shift
- Meeting 3 – Part II –The Science of Interfaith Cooperation, The Art of Interfaith Leadership
- Meeting 4 – Part III – Colleges, Seminaries, American Muslim Child
- Meeting 5 – Conclusion
2. Use the questions in blue for a group that has read the entire book and is only meeting once to discuss the highlights. (Recommended for book clubs, community interfaith initiatives, or all-campus read seminar)
Each section of the discussion guide is divided into four sections:
- Quotes – What do you observe about the selected quotes? – As a group, discuss your observations about the quotes at the top of each section.
- Themes – What themes emerge from Patel’s ideas and stories? – Based on your observations from the stories and ideas in each section, discuss what themes stand out.
- Reflections – What are your experiences that relate to the quotes, observations, and interpretations? – Discuss the reflections as an opportunity to spark interfaith dialogue among your group. This is a time to make connections between the ideas of Sacred Ground and how they apply to your college, department, or interfaith student organization.
- Applications – What are the action steps you can take as an individual? As a group, and as individuals, reflect on how you can take action for interfaith cooperation.
Setting the Space
Before you get started, it’s important to set the right tone for your discussion, so that everyone will feel comfortable sharing their insights on the book as well as more personal reflections. Your discussion of Sacred Ground may bring up some sensitive reactions regarding religion, social justice, politics, and personal worldviews; having shared guidelines will help to ensure you can have those conversations productively.
Safe Space Guidelines:
Together, brainstorm guidelines you will need from yourself and others in order to feel comfortable in your discussions. Read the responses aloud and ask if everyone feels comfortable abiding by the guidelines. Revisit or reword guidelines as needed.
Examples of possible guidelines are:
- Listening attentively when someone else is speaking
- Using “I” statements
- Anyone can pass on answering a particular question
- When listening, assess both the intent and the effect of those words before assuming an offensive motive