Trialogue and Terror: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam after 9/11

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Trialogue and Terror: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam after 9/11.

Edited by Alan Berger. Eugene, Ore.: Cascade Books, 2012. Pp. xv, 271. Paperback $30.

There is "dialogue," and there is dialogue. The former can be any kind of conversation, including argument. True dialogue occurs when one transcends personal agendas and the desire to make a point, preach, or missionize, and arrives at a place where there is genuine learning from the other. "Trialogue" is a neologism designed to bring Muslims into the conversation between Jews and Christians, particularly after the horror of 9/11. As in my first sentence, there can be "trialogue," as well as trialogue.

The chapters of this volume, edited by Alan Berger from a series of conferences held at Florida Atlantic University between 2007 and 2010, represent a mix. Among the Jewish and Christian contributors, all experienced in Jewish Christian dialogue, there tends to be not only an understandable apprehension about the ability of Muslims to engage productively with Jews and Christians, but also a marked tendency to essentialize Islam and a kind of hubris about their own religious superiority vis-a-vis Islam that inevitably thwarts true dialogue. Exceptions are the chapters by Deborah Weissman, Mary Boys, and Theresa Sanders, all of whom offer excellent and thoughtful contributions. …