a faith of many rooms

A Faith Of Many Rooms is a book to discourage ‘Christians’ and others whose faith begins so small and confining that they either don’t let others in, or start to bore others with their constant preaching, not respecting that perhaps others don’t believe the same as them.  Disillusioned by narrow theologies and church dysfunction (not to mention constricted readings of Scripture – ie picking and choosing the bits that suit), people are leaving Christianity in droves.

But Jesus described the reign of God as a ‘house with many rooms’, and this book focuses more on that. Wherever God dwells, there is belonging. A faith should not feel cramped or be taken up by fundamentalists like Trump supporters or those who decide to use the church to hate certain groups of people. Nor should it be so patronising that it puts people off. When Gandhi once came across some Christian preachers in India who were not having success scaring the Hindus into converting, they asked him why. He replied ‘When you start behaving like Christians, perhaps they will listen’. He himself almost became a Christian, but after experiencing racism, he decided to ‘keep the good bits about Christianity’ like the love and kindness of Jesus, and discard the rest.

Debie Thomas is a writer who studied English Literature and currently serves as Minister for a church in California, USA. Born in South India and raised in Massachussetts, she grew up in a complicated jungle of identities and faiths, who was a preacher’s daughter who kept asking all the’wrong’ questions about God, faith and the Bible! She remains a seeker and explorer, finding solace in writing and hoping her journey gives others the permission to seek too.

Buddhism (from an immigrant’s perspective)

lotus in the west

Budding Lotus in the West is a thought-provoking book from Vietnamese immigrant Nhi Yến Đỗ Trần, who was born into a Buddhist family then immigrated to the USA age 10. This book follows her journey, in a country where many fundamentalist Christians do not allow outside faiths, saying if they aren’t saved’, they may burn in hellfire etc. She explores the delicate balance between honouring ancient wisdom and addresses modern challenges – what would Buddha say about abortion, gun and LGBTQ rights? Or prejudice, discrimination and gender equality?

This is a fairly topical book in recent times, due to the concerns over immigrants arriving by boat to England (the story is far more complicated than the media say). And another mystery is how former Home Secretary Suella Braverman (whose ‘dream’ is sending immigrants to a country with poor human rights record) is a practicing Buddhist? Loving kindness? The four noble truths? In fact, Triratna Buddhism (similar to Kadampa Buddhism – the founder was not recognised by Tibetan Buddhism and monks are only allowed to read his books) is widely regarded as not ‘true Buddhism’, and not recognised by Buddhist scholars.

Nhi Yến Đỗ Trần immigrated from Việt Nam to the USA at the age of 10 through a Humanitarian Operation Program. Co-founder of a mindfulness community sharing compassion in Seattle, she is the niece of the founder of a Buddhist monastery.

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