Inspired by a public lecture at Hendrix College given by Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, Arun Gandhi, Hendrix professor Jay McDaniel has written a new book to help readers learn about world religions as a way to find both personal and world peace.
The 160-page book, Gandhi’s Hope: Learning from World Religions as a Path to Peace, is published by Orbis Press and is available at most bookstores and at Amazon.com for $15.
“Whether we are Christians or Jews, Muslims or Hindus, Buddhists or Sikh, we face five serious challenges,” said McDaniel, author of several books on religion and ecology. “These challenges are to live compassionately, to live self-critically, to live simply, to live ecologically and to welcome religious diversity.”
Gandhi’s Hope treats all of the challenges, but is aimed specifically at helping spiritually interested readers respond to the last challenge of welcoming religious diversity. Guided by a form of philosophy called process philosophy, McDaniel shows how people from different religions can cultivate a culture of peace by learning from the various world religions, even as they remain rooted in their own.
“Each religion contains truth relevant to a flourishing of life,” McDaniel said, “while no religion contains all the truth, which is always more than any individuals or communities experience.” In this sense, McDaniel said, the book follows Gandhi who believed that the heart of religion lies in seeking truth in companionship with others, not in claiming to have all the truth.
McDaniel, who holds a doctorate degree from Claremont School of Theology, said the book emerged out of his 20 years of teaching world religions at Hendrix.
The professor hopes that the book is helpful to individual readers and also to groups of readers who are engaged in a study of the religions in the context of a college classroom or a community of faith.
A member of the First United Methodist Church in Conway and an oblate at Mount Saint Benedict Monastery in Erie, Pa., McDaniel is involved in inter-religious dialogue, especially Christian-Buddhist dialogue. His other books have included With Roots and Wings: Christianity in an Age of Ecology and Dialogue; Living from the Center; Spirituality in an Age of Consumerism; Of God and Pelicans: A Theology of Reverence for Life; and Earth, Sky, Gods, and Mortals: Developing an Ecological Spirituality.