Being Both: Interfaith Cross-Country Tour
I spent most of March traveling and speaking and having amazing conversations around Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family. In California, I found these translucent red, orange and yellow poppies imitating the overlapping and intersecting circles on the cover of my book!
The month started out with a full day with the students, faculty and staff of Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. I facilitated a Brown Bag lunch discussion on Interfaith Dating to a packed room of students, and gave an evening lecture on Being Both, in the lovely Kirby Hall of Civil Rights. The visit was co-sponsored by the Office of Religious & Spiritual Life, Friends of Skillman Library, Hillel, Newman Association, and the Interfaith Council. College Chaplain Alex Hendrickson remarked on the pent-up demand on campus for talking about interfaith relationships, interfaith families, and complex religious identity. I loved seeing all of these groups in conversation with each other: this will be my model for campus visits going forward.
My next talk, at the historic Bush-Holley House in Cos Cob, Connecticut, was also sponsored by a collaboration–in this case, the Jewish Book Council Authors Network, the Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Greenwich, and Jewish Family Services of Greenwich. I am very encouraged to see organizations with religious affiliations support the idea that it is important to understand families who are raising interfaith children in both family religions.
That theme of engagement continued in California, where I spoke at historic Temple Emanu-El in San Jose, in a panel discussion with authors Rabbi Michal Woll and Jon Sweeney, co-sponsored by the Jewish Book Council, the JCC of Silicon Valley, and interfaithfamily.com. It was wonderful to see old friends from the Bay Area interfaith families communities there, including Oscar Rosenbloom, who wrote the Interfaith Responsive Reading used by my interfaith families community at our gatherings.
The next night, both family and friends turned out at the lovely Book Passage in Marin, one of the liveliest bookstores in America, in terms of the number of top authors who read there. It was great to be hosted by our dear friend, noted Marin author Julia Flynn Siler. And my brother and his wife, the chefs of Panevino Food for Wine in Napa Valley, came down to hear my talk and brought their incredible breadsticks for all to share.
Next, I zipped down to the Claremont School of Theology, and spoke to a class of Christian, Jewish and Muslim seminarians (who bought a big stack of my books). Our conversation helped to convince me that I want to get to every seminary in America, because every chaplain and clergy member needs to be prepared to support interfaith families. Understanding the shifting religious landscape in America, including families who span religions, is going to be critical in this century for pastoral counselors, and for family and marriage therapists.
Finally, last night, I was honored to speak at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, alongside Georgetown’s Erika Seamon, author of what I think is the most important book ever written on interfaith marriage in American history. Georgetown’s Melody Fox Ahmed moderated our discussion, which included faculty and students from all over the globe.
Coming up, I’ll be speaking at the University of Virginia, and then at the the MLK branch of the DC Public Library on May 7th. Contact me now to set up events for the fall: I would love to speak at your professional conference, synagogue, church, community center, university, college, seminary, library or bookstore. I feel like we are just at the beginning of a great, national conversation on religious flexibility and fluidity, religion and spirituality, the religious “nones” and religious institutions, and the role of inter-religious families in interfaith dialogue.
Susan Katz Miller’s book, Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family is available now in hardcover and eBook from Beacon Press.