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Memphis Inter-Religious Group

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(items added 06/26/2018)

Sources of books.   

 Bookstores; on-line (// has one of the largest lists, // often has the lowest prices on used or out-of-print copies.)  In Memphis, commercial bookstores often tend to more Christian books than others: gift shops  at synagogues and the Jewish Community Center often have more Jewish books. One of the best sources for Muslim books in Memphis is the Mediterranean Market on Park near Highland.  Other suggestions are welcome. There are several Christian bookstores but I really like the Episcopal Bookshop at St. Mary's Cathedral, see our Addresses page.

Yes, we lend books.

New additions added at the top of the list.  (I really need to sort this in a more useful way. I'm not sure whether I need to annotate the ones that can be researched on line.)

 June 2018
    The Lynching Sites of Memphis Project  has a book list (suggested reading) at

April 1, 2018
Do not overlook the wealth of material in the Calvary Episcopal Lenten Lecture Series, at!/swx/pp/media_archives/202604/channel/3477

Pema Karpo Meditation Center (Buddhist) now streams its Friday evening and Sunday morning programs.

The Church Health Center Reader is now online at

January 2018 - 
Wendi Thomas and photographer Andrea Morales compiled, from public suggestions, a list of sites where one might like to take Martin Luther King, Jr., to visit if he came to Memphis today.

Chabad (an orthodox Jewish organization in Memphis) has links to interesting Jewish stories and films at

March 2017:

The American Association of University Women has given us permission to post a flier on "How to talk to your Legislators", designed for upcoming visits by the AAUW to Nashville. but in the present political climate it may be of wider interest. It is at
In this context, I remind you that the page Eunice Ordman prepared years ago on how to write your congressman, newspaper editors, etc.,
is still online at

Jan 2016:
current online issue of "Teaching Tolerance" will be of special interest to educators (including clergy, religious teachers, discussion groups and organization program planners.)
    We have a copy of the movie "Timbuktu", recommended to us by Jophnathan Judaken, which concerns the radical Muslim takeopver of the city in Mali a few years ago.  Of considerable interest for its portrayal of differing form of Muslim life and viewpoints. Available to lend.

Sept 2015

FACING HISTORY has a program on teaching the Reconstruction period (post-Civil War.)
Read What I Got Wrong When I Taught Reconstruction on the Facing Today blog.
Download our free unit on teaching Reconstruction.
Download writing strategies that supplement our Reconstruction unit.
Find professional development for teaching the Reconstruction era.

There will be a major online course for teachers starting October 29, 2015

The program Teaching Tolerance has an excellent blog.
A sample and possible entry point is at

August 2015.
       Should we be listing web links to, e.g., magazines of religious interest?  On Hiroshima Day we were sent this pointer to an article
and Sojourners Magazine certainly seems to be of interest.

July 2015

An interesting source of brief Jewish commentaries on the weekly Torah reading in the synagogue:
Chabad Memphis has a website with lots of answers to questions about traditional (Orthodox and Chassidic) Judaism:

The Papal encyclical on environment introduced at the UN:
There are some remarks about the drafting process of the encyclical.

April 2015
I need to hear if people are using this page - is it worth doing a major sort on the stuff?  Let me know:
DVD - Disney Movie, Miracle at Midnight. The evacuation of the Danish Jews to Sweden in World War Two.

late February 2015
    FACING HISTORY  has a lot of material available free for teachers, e.g a set of materials to use with To Kill A Mockingbird but also many others sets.

late January 2015:

Germantown Presbyterian Church has sermons on-line:

Yasir Qadhi has completed his "Life of the Prophet" series of lectures at the Memphis Islamic Center, Wednesday evenings. I haven't hear what comes next from this outstanding speaker. For anyone who has never listened to him preach to Muslims, an excellent place to start (an exposition of the Muslim equivalent of Christian parables) is at

Marcus Borg died January 21, 2015. He preached in the Lenten Lecture series at Calvary Episcopal Church in downtown Memphis for twenty years, and several of his sermons there in recent years are available through their website. 
An interesting introduction to his mode of Biblical interpretation is available in a YouTube of a debate with the much more traditional William Lane Craig  at

Some On-line Links added November 2014:

There is a large amount of information about Bahá’í ion line, including a remarkable quantity of their sacred writings.  is the root, with much documentation at  
I'm told a nice writing to start with is The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf,

Another one that seems to be an "official" website is
with the whole Book of Mormon (and also the Old Testament, New Testament, and other documents) online at

A full set of traditional Jewish scripture readings, Torah and Haftorah readings (the Torah readings for a year include the entire first five books of the Bible, the Haftorahs or "second lessons" are selections from elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible) are online in Hebrew and English at  see also

An Arabic and English Quran, including oral traditional recitations, is at

I'd appreciate other interesting links.

DVDs added 2014 - June -

Different Books, Common Word  (Baptist/MuslimDVD 1 hour. An Interfaith piece of special interest since the married couple at its center is a Muslim man and a Baptist woman, bothy active in First Baptist Church in Memphis.

Children's March on Birmingham. DVD. From the Teaching Tolerance progrm of the Southern Poverty Law Center. An essential story from the Civil Rights Movement, extremely well told. 

At the River I Stand  DVDThis documentary of the Memphis strikle leading to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., has so far as I know never been publiocly available, but it has been shown a few timnes on Public TV.  I videotaped it and copied it to DVD(not an ideal copy - it was over the air during a thunderstown, so there is some static and dropouts, but it is very playable) and can lend it privately. It is an extremely well done documentary of an essential piece of Memphis history.  I may be able to help negotiations with the University of Memphis to arrange other showings.

Gates of Jerusalem, DVD 1996 2 hours. (Tourist material)

Little town of Bethlehem. DVD, 77 minutes.  A Christian, A Mulsim, and a Jew wish to bring an end to violence.

The Hiding Place, DVD,  A Dutrch family hides Jews from the Nazis.

Hester Street DVD,  A afimily of Jewish immigrants attempting to adjust in New York.

West of Hester Street. DVD   Jewish immigrants in the American West.

Prince of Slaves. DVD, from public TV. A very educated Muslim African is taken to the US as a slave.

Tariq Ramadan, "God's Design".  DVD

Bolling, Searching for Peace in the Middle East. DVD. Excellent, but from about 2007 or earlier- rather dated.

A Man of Galilee, Elias Chacour (DVD). 22 minutes. A Christian from Galilee involved in trying to build
excellent interfaith schools.
Chacour at Montreat. DVD. A talk Chacour gave to a church camp in the US.

Amy-Jill Levine, Reassessing Jewish-Christian Relations. DVD, 1 hour lecture
(we also have several of Prof. Levine's "Great Courses" from the Teaching Company).

Islam, Empire of Faith.  DVD. PBS, 3 hours


12/8/2013- I strongly suspect that modern Jewish use of ritual immersion does not very closely match that of John The Baptist, although it is clearly directly descended. Those who have ever wondered about Jewish conversion ceremonies, or about the origins of baptism by immersion, will likely enjoy this semi-humorous essay recently put up in a Jewish on-line magazine:

Hindu Temple Photos:
The Indian Cultural Center and Temple has put photos of many of its recent events on-line. If you've been there and frustrated at their rules against photographs, here you can see them!

"Did you miss the Temple Anniversary celebrations last week ?   No worries!
You can view the photos by going to ICCT website (yes, I know that link looks odd if you analyze its internals)
and clicking on "Photos" link from the top navigation menu. All the photos are displayed at:
"Photos -> 2013 Events -> Temple 19th Anniversary - 2013"
You can also view photos and videos of the recently concluded Yagnam by clicking the links below:

We have the movie "Genocide", a major 1981 movie narrated by Elizabeth Taylor and Orson Welles. 83 minutes.

Our local professor and activist Jonathan Judaken  has an essay on anti-semitism in the February 4 religion section  of The Huffington Post,
The Conversation, a discussion about end-of-life issues (communicating with adult children, etc.)
Dr. Scott Morris of the Church Health Center, Dr. Raza Dilawari, Dr. Asma Diliwari
(an oncologist dying of cancer, and his daughter, also an oncologist.  DVD, about 23 minutes,
excellent for religious or other group discussions.  Free from us or the Ch
urch Health Center.
For commentaries Google "dying well video Dilawari"  The entire video is also on-line at

The Church Health Center now publishes a quarterly magazine, "CH Reader"
Available quarterly in print or online at

2011 One Faith, Many Colors lectures sponsored by MIFA are on-line at

We have DVDs available to lend of -
    The Vanderhaar Symposium lecture, March 6, 2011:  - "Peacemakers, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim"
    Movie, "A Prince Among Slaves"

  and others, see our "Book list" page.

    Edward and Eunice Ordman's talk to the Collierville Civitan Club, March 10 is now available online

March 2012: I have to note as of special interest the 2012 issue of the magazine of the American University in Beirut, Main Gate, which can be downloaded at  (a big pdf, takes awhile to download.)  There are excellent pieces such as "The Citizen and History Return to the Arab World", p. 28 and several others.
We also have a paper copy if you'd prefer to borrow that.

March 2012:    I note with mild distress that man of the Calvary Lenten lectures from earlier years no longer seem to be on the Calvary or iTunes websites (or maybe they are just hard to find.)  I have saved a  great many of the 2008 and 2010 lectures, and a selection of the 2009 lectures. Let me know if you would like any.

2011: The Fares Center at Tufts University
, , has posted two lectures (Sept 14 and Sept 19) about Libya and The Arab Spring. It has a great many good lectures on the Middle East available on line.

Temple Israel has substantially enlarged its collection of sermons available as on-line videos.

The people at have reorganized their website. The piece about Heartsong Church is now at
and the love letter to the Ordmans is now at 

Memphis on NPR.  NPR in Auguist 2011 did a segment on the national broadcast (4 min 12 seconds)  "A Ramadan Story Of Two Faiths Bound In Friendship", about Heartsong Church and the Memphis Islamic Center. It is on-line at
Those of us who hope that the good interfaith model in Memphis can be spread more widely are much encouraged by this.

MIFA program on world religions from the summer of 2011:
All five of these talks are now available on line, e.g.   Rev. Buck, a wonderful history of Christianity, and the page has pointers to the talks by  Rabbi Adam Grossman, Nabil Bayakly, Burton Carley, and Sandeep Pednekar 

Feb 18-19, 2011, we encouraged people to attend the Trinity Institute discussions, "Reading the Scriptures through other eyes."  While if you didn't get there you missed some excellent local discussions in Memphis, the talks that were used in the Memphis meetings are available on-line at

On Feb 10,11,13, 2011 Rabbi Marmor, a leader of Hebrew Union College and distinguished scholar, visited Temple Israel. He gave quite a few talks.  On Thursday evening, Feb 10, he spoke about the biography and philoisphy and social activism of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a major Jewish philosopher who was also the rabbi who most frequently marched arm-in-arm with Martin Luther King.
A news article (King's Birthday) about interaction of Jews with Martin Luther King is at
(This article appeared in the Hebrew Watchman, the Memphis Jewish newspaper.)
The handout - excerpts from Heschel's writing - that Marmor used Feb 11 is at
and the video of the talk (about an hour and 20 minutes) is on-line at
I can provide this on a DVD if that is more convenient.
Finally, ifg you'd like a Jewish sermon and discussion of Biblical interpretation,
Rabbi Marmor's sermon for Friday Feb 11, on "The eternal light", is at

Donald Davis  is a nationally known storyteller.   We have videotapes of his 5-hour TV series (shoiwn on Brigham Young Univ television in January 2011) on how to gather, compose, and pass on stories. As this is a princial way of passing on to our children our values, beliefs, family heritage, and memories of where our family came from, it is an ability that many of us wish to cultivate.

Imam Feisal Abdul RaufWhat's Right With Islam Is What's Right With America.
Imam Rauf is Imam of a mosque located twelve blocks from the site of the former World Trade Center in New York.  We speaks of  the extent to which Muslim Values and American values agree, and the ways in which American Muslims may influence the rest of the Muslim world, among other issues.  Introduction by Karen Armstrong.

Sermon examples:

People sometimes wonder what the sermons are about, or what they sound like, in another religion.  Nice examples of Memphis sermons can be found on line, among other places, at
Temple Israel:       
Balmoral Presbyterian:  
Masjid As-Salam:     and
Many of Yasir Qadhi's talks at the Memphis Islamic Center are now on-line at

     (Don't be put off that the Muslim ones start with a quotation in Arabic - they switch to English after a few minutes. Many of the talks here are longer lectures or what others might call "Sunday school lessons." Actual sermons are called "Khutabs".)

At our March 2010 meeting, some of us got into a discussion of the different images of Satan (Shaitan) in the different religions.  Tanvir Kazmi has provided a rather large collection of Quran quotations on the subject.  I've put them in the "discussion" section of the page for the group MemphisIRG.  Is that a good place for them?  Would people like to start other discussions there?

Some Books of interest -

This is an initial list, incomplete, and with no idea yet how it should be organized. Suggestions are very welcome.   January 30, 2010.

 Rebecca Peters and Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty, To Do Justice: A Guide for Progressive Christians.
Balmoral Presbyterian has a lot of Sunday School classes; one in Spring semester 2010 is using this one which may be of general interest.  A survey of areas in which a religious person might be concerned about modern American society: family, education, the economy, war, and others.

J. Clinton McCann, Jr.   Great Psalms of the Bible.
Another Balmoral Sunday School book. It takes twelve psalms and goes through them carefully, line by line, to get the context and meaning, then discusses implications for today.

Ibn Kathir, Stories of the Prophets
A Muslim book  that serves as an adult "Sunday School Book", this retells the stories of the major Biblical figures from a Muslim viewpoint. Adam, Enoch(Idris), Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Job, Jonah, and many others up to John the Baptist and Jesus.   Wonderful reading for Jews and Christians who are frustrated by the fact that the Koran isn't chronological.

Milton Steinberg, As a Driven Leaf
A fictionalized life of an important first-century Rabbi, the only Rabbi ever expelled from the Sanhedrin (for attending Church too often, among other reasons.)    An excellent exposition of life in Palestine in the first century C.E.,  used as a study text at Temple Israel.

Bruce Chilton, Rabbi Jesus
An Episcopal priest but rather nonconforming, Chilton tries to portray Jesus in the light of what we know of Jewish society at the time. This is interesting to compare with the Milton Steinberg book set just a few decades later. 

Elias Chacour, Blood Brothers
      Elias Chacour is a Christian Priest (now an Archbishop) born in Galilee before 1948, who remained  there as an Israeli citizen.  He has devoted himself to building schools that teach tolerance and respect. These schools have a very large Muslim enrollment and are so very well regarded by the Israeli Education Ministry that they receive high subsidies from the Israeli government.  He recounts the close relationship and active cooperation between the Muslim and Christian communities in the village of Ibilin, and his difficulties with the Israeli goverment. Chacour has lectured at Montreat, a Presbyterian camp many members at Balmoral are acquainted with (We can lend a DVD of that lecture, which tells many of the stories in the book.)

Eboo Patel, Acts of Faith
Patel is an American Muslim of Indian heritage, who has become a major leader in interfaith youth work.

Howard R. Greenstein, K.G. Hotz. J. Kaltner, What do our neighbors believe? 
An introduction to multiple faiths, organized by topic (Sacred Texts, Beliefs, Practices, Social Issues, ...) rather than by faith.  Our local Rabbi Greenstein's father was one of the authors.

Jeffrey K. Salkin, Righteous Gentiles in the Hebrew Bible
A book on non-Jewish characters in the Hebrew Bible, by Rabbi Salkin who is a very popular occasional guest lecturer at Temple Israel.

Bruce Feiler, Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths.
A life of Abraham with references to his role in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Richard Rubenstein, When Jesus Became God.  A history of the time around the Council of Nicea, about 325 C.E., when the doctrine of the Trinity was being formed.

Sari Nusseibeh, Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life
The autobiography of the president of Al-Quds University, the Palestinian university in East Jerusalem.  A vivid picture of the career of an intellectual caught up in the Israeli-Palestinian tragedy.

Tariq Ramadan, In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad. 
A modern life of Muhammad by a Fellow at Oxford who has been called "Europe's leading Muslim Intellectual."

Rashi, a Light after the Dark Ages. DVD
Educational DVD, 1 hour, of an important Jewish scholar working in the time of Charlemagne.

Rambam, the Story of Maimonides. DVD
Educational DVD, 1 hour, of one of the most important Jewish scholars, working primarily in Muslim Spain and Egypt.

Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People.  DVD
Documentary, under 1 hour. excerpts from famous films showing the use of Arabs as villains.

Muhammad, Legacy of a Prophet.  DVD
Life of Muhammad. Full length movie.

Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain. DVD.
Usually in the US we learn of the "Christian reconquest of Spain" from a north-European viewpoint. This is a far more Muslim viewpoint, but with a very interesting treatment of the Christians and Jews of the Iberian penensula. Full length movie.

Encounter Point.   DVD.
The story of the Breaved Fanilies Association: An Israeli whose daughter was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber, and a Palestinian whose son was killed by an Israeli soldier, come together in sympathy and speak to Israeli and Palestinian audiences about the need to end the fighting. Full length movie.

The Childrens March on Birmingham. DVD.
Documentary, about 40 minutes. At a critical point in the Civil Rights movement, when the Black adults in Birmingham Alabama were afraid to act for fear of retaliation, the childen gathered at a church and went out to successfully face down the loal police and firemen.

New Muslim Cool. DVD
Movie for the general market, aimed at youth / young adults. The story of a young Puerto Rican convert to Islam who moves to Pittsburgh, trying to make a living as a rap performer and  a hospital chaplain. There are problems with security clearance at the prison and an FBI raid on the mosque. Productive interaction with Jews. The problems of a young married couple.

Children of Abraham. DVD.
Short DVD to encourage interfaith discussion, produced jointly by the Union for Reform Judaism and the Islamic Society of North America.
Somewhat scholarly.

Sayyed Hossain Nasr: God, The Reality to Serve, Love, and Know. DVD
Lecture at Trinity Church Conference, New York, 2000.

Sunshine. DVD.
The  life of a Hungarian Jewish family from before World War One to after the fall of communism. An outstanding commercial movie, unfortunately with much too much sex.

Azadeh Moaveni
, Honeymoon in Tehran . In the early 2000's, an Iranian-American reporter for Time goes to Tehran to be a journalist, falls in love, marries, and stays for two years. very good not only on Iranian politics, but on the relations between religious and secular Iranians and day-to-day life in the Islamic Republic.

Avraham Burg, The Holocaust is Over, We Must Rise From its Ashes.  Burg is the Israeli-born son of Holocaust survivors, and a former speaker of the Israeli Knesset. He feels that by identifying itself too stongly as victim, Israel is losng sight of the Jewish prophetic message.

Samuel G. Freedman, Upon this Rock.  The story of a Black Baptist church in a poor neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. Used in a Univrsity of Memphis course about community organizing and inner-city anthropology.

Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin, Three Cups of Tea. Lost in a mountain-climbing accident in the Himalayas, Mortenson was rescued by Pakistani villagers. Learning of their needs, he has devoted his life to building schools - espacially for girls - in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  A major best-seller and thrilling to read. 

Madeleine L'Engle. The Rock that is Higher: Story as Truth. Another Balmoral Presbyterian Church Sunday School book, a good book for group discussions. How we tell stories, read stories, listen to stories, and how we use stories to build community. Many examples from the Gospel parables, as well as other stories.

Hanan Ashrawi, This side of Peace. Ashrawi is a professor at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank, a Christian Palestinain woman who was long a spokesperson and negotiator for Fatah and a member of the Palestinian parliament.  1995, so dated, but wonerful for its image of Palestine and Palestinian politics of the time.

Arthur Waskow, Godwrestling.  Long out of print, but used copies are readily available. A rabbi who suggests ways that people can meet and talk informally about God, taking God's message seriously but without the need for heavy  scholarship or professional leadership.  Look at a passge in the Bible or Koran: what does it mean to us today?

W. Guther Plaut, Torah: a Modern Commentary,   a typical modern commentary on the first five books of the  Hebrew Bible, the Torah, often used for discussion in the Saturday morning discussion group at Temple Israel. Compare Ali's Koran commentary.

Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Koran.  A widely used Koran commentary, almost identical in layout and spirit to the Plaut  Torah commentary. This one is frequently used for the Sunday afternoon Koran classes at Masjid As-Salam.

Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri (ed. and abridged by).   Tafsir Ibn Kathir, (Vol. 1)  For Jews who wonder what the Muslims have instead of the Talmud, it is the Hadith; the recollections of the companions of the prophet as to what Mohammed said and did. There are also very elaborate commentaries on the Koran, almost as elaborate as the Talmud.  This is one of the best presentations of some of this material in English that I've found for sale locally.

(more coming shortly)