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A Communication Perspective on Interfaith Dialogue: Living Within the Abrahamic Traditions


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Communication theory provides a compelling way to understand how people of faith can and should work together in today’s tumultuous world. In A Communication Perspective on Interfaith Dialogue, fifteen authors present their experiences and analyses of interfaith dialogue, and contextualize interfaith work within the frame of rhetorical and communication studies. While the focus is on the Abrahamic faiths, these essays also include discussion of Hinduism and interracial faith efforts. Each chapter incorporates communication theories that bring clarity to the practices and problems of interfaith communication. Where other interfaith books provide theological, political, or sociological insights, this volume is committed to the perspectives contained in communication scholarship. Interfaith dialogue is best imagined as an organic process, and it does not require theological heavyweights gathered for academic banter. As such, this volume focuses on the processes and means by which interfaith meaning is produced.

Part 1: Fundamentals
Chapter 1: Communication Theory Meets Interfaith Dialogue
Daniel S. Brown, Jr.
Chapter 2: Managing the Anxiety and Uncertainty of Religious Otherness: Interfaith Dialogue as a Problem of Intercultural Communication
Mark Ward, Sr.
Chapter 3: Humanizing and Dehumanizing Responses Across Four Orientations to Religious Otherness
Charles Soukup and James Keaten
Chapter 4: Rhetorology and Interfaith Dialogue
Adrienne E. Hacker Daniels
Part 2: Applications
Chapter 5: A Narrative Approach to Interfaith Dialogue: Explanations & Recommendations
Kenneth Danielson
Chapter 6: St. Francis and the Sultan: Adaptive Structuration Theory
Barbara S. Spies, OFS
Chapter 7: Hope Analysis: Pathways, Agency, and Interfaith Dialogue
Daniel S. Brown, Jr.
Chapter 8: The Power of Living Parables for Transformative Interfaith Encounters
Elizabeth W. McLaughlin
Chapter 9: Memory and Interfaith Dialogue in the Context of Globalization
Diana I. Bowen and Paul Fortunato
Chapter 10: Speech and Silence as Rhetorical Space: Lessons from an Inter-Racial Church
Rose M. Metts
Part 3: Challenges
Chapter 11: Not in my Sandbox: Organizational Culture, Identity, and Interfaith Collaboration
Maria Dixon and Greg G. Armfield
Chapter 12: Hindu Interfaith Discourse: Spiral of Silence as a Theological Inevitability
Ramesh N. Rao and Padma Kuppa
Chapter 13: The “God Problem” In Interfaith Dialogue: Situating Divine Speech in the Seven Traditions of Communication Theory
Mark Ward, Sr.

In our culture of ideological division where voices compete for attention as they propagandize and polarize political and religious establishments, this engaging collection calls for authentic dialogue and civility. It also seeks to build-bridges among faith traditions in thoughtful ways that effectively transcend the divide and speak to the wider society.

This collection moves from the fundamentals of communication theory and interfaith dialogue to the application and challenges of those principles. Clearly it is not enough to know the doctrinal and cultural differences found in our pluralistic religious environments, one must also understand the obstacles that separate us from the other. A Communication Perspective on Interfaith Dialogue is an important contribution to breaking down the walls that hinder our progress toward peace and understanding.

Product Details

  • Title : A Communication Perspective on Interfaith Dialogue: Living Within the Abrahamic Traditions
  • Authors:
    • Brown, Daniel S., Jr.
    • Armfield, Greg G.
    • Bowen , Diana I.
    • Hacker Daniels, Adrienne E.
    • Danielson, Kenneth
    • Dixon, Maria
    • Fortunato, Paul
    • Keaten , James
    • Kuppa, Padma
    • McLaughlin, Elizabeth
    • Metts , Rose M.
    • Rao , Ramesh
    • Soukup , Charles
    • Spies, Barbara S.
    • Ward, Mark
  • Publisher: Lexington Books
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • ISBN: 9780739178713

Daniel S. Brown, Jr. is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Pennsylvania’s Grove City College. His book, Interfaith Dialogue in Practice: Christian, Muslim, Jew, set the stage for the release of Interfaith Dialogue: Listening to Communication Theory which is the first book about communication theory that is focused on interfaith dialogue. A former Fellow at Northwestern University’s Summer Institute on the Holocaust and Jewish Civilization, Brown specializes in communication theory and rhetorical criticism, especially as they intersect with organizational communication. He serves on the Executive Council of the Religious Communication Association. Brown’s essays have appeared in the Journal of Communication and Religion, Review of Communication, Communication Teacher, Communication Education and Christian Library Journal.

Greg G. Armfield is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at New Mexico State University. He specializes in the study of organizational culture and the intersection of sports fan identity on mass media use. His research has appeared in the Journal of Communication, the Journal of Media and Religion, and the Journal of Communication and Religion. Armfield has also edited two volumes of Human Communication in Action (Kendall Hunt, 2011).

Diana I. Bowen is an assistant professor of communication studies in the Department of Arts and Humanities at the University of Houston-Downtown in Houston, Texas. Her research interests include archival research, rhetorical theory and criticism, social movements, visual and popular culture, and Latina/o studies. She examined the Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa Papers located at the Benson Latin American Collection at UT Austin and the role of the archive and repertoire in the creation of theories of social change “from below.” She teaches rhetoric and public address, communication law and ethics, argumentation and debate, visual rhetoric, and public memory and rhetorical criticism courses. Bowen is currently involved with the Center for Public Deliberation and teaches a course with a summer study abroad program in Paris and Venice.

Adrienne E. Hacker Daniels is a professor in the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois. She teaches courses in Public Speaking, Freedom of Expression, Mass Communication, Communication Ethics, Rhetorical Theory, and electives including The Rhetoric of Comedy. Her research includes the study of the relationship between rhetorical and poetic theory, studying the rhetorical dimensions of more aesthetically grounded artifacts. Hacker Daniels has published essays on Thornton Wilder, Gertrude Stein, W.H. Auden and Hallie Flanagan. She has also presented convocations for Yom Hashoah, and has lectured widely about interfaith dialogue.

Kenneth Danielson is an assistant professor of communication studies at Kutztown University, a state university in Pennsylvania. In addition to a PhD from Kent State University, he holds an MA in Pastoral Counseling and Psychology and MDiv in Christian Thought and Theology from Ashland Theological Seminary. His prior pastoral experience and psychology interests influence his teaching in interpersonal communication and rhetorical studies. Danielson has authored and presented papers on rhetorical studies, religious communication, and popular culture. His long involvement in the Religious Communication Association was recently recognized with a special award honoring his many years of service to the organization including five years as Executive Secretary.

Maria Dixon is currently an associate professor of organizational communication at Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, Texas. Her articles appear in top journals including Management Communication Quarterly, Southern Journal of Communication, Liturgy, and the Journal of Communication and Religion. Dixon focuses her research and professional consulting on donor and fundraising communication, strategic communication for non-profit and religious organizations, and strategic communication management.

Paul Fortunato has published Modernist Aesthetics and Consumer Culture in the Writings of Oscar Wilde (Routledge 2007), a book about Oscar Wilde’s aesthetics. He continues to work on Wilde’s aesthetics, using phenomenology as a way of articulating Wilde’s conception of how art functions in society. He also works on post-secular theory, including the writing of Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor and Tariq Ramadan. Since 2005 Fortunato has taught English at the University of Houston-Downtown in Houston, Texas. He is co-director of UHD’s Center for Public Deliberation, where he promotes discussions on current issues, particularly on interfaith dialogue.

James Keaten is a professor of communication and acting associate dean at the University of Northern Colorado. Professor Keaten maintains three research tracks in the area of communication studies: Reticence, Interfaith Dialogue, and Mediated Communication. His research has been published in a variety of journals, such as Journal of Communication, Communication Education, and Communication Quarterly. He serves or served on the editorial boards of Communication Education, Communication Quarterly, Communication Reports, and Journal of Intercultural Communication Research. Keaten has received the Distinguished Scholar and College Scholar recognitions from the University of Northern Colorado. Keaten also serves as an international consultant for the customer support industry.

Padma Kuppa is an IT professional in the United States automotive industry who holds a B.E. from the Regional Engineering College, in Warangal, India. An activist involved in community service locally and nationally, Kuppa is a co-founder of the Troy-area Interfaith Group, an Advisory Board member of the women’s interfaith organization WISDOM, and a columnist for Patheos.com. Padma focuses on inter-religious cooperation as an Executive Council member of the Hindu American Foundation.

Elizabeth W. McLaughlin is an associate professor of communication and chair of the Department of Communication at Bethel College in Indiana. She holds a doctor of philosophy in communication studies from Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA, and a master’s degree in ministry from Bethel College. Prior to teaching, McLaughlin was a partner of an advertising and public relations firm, served several agencies in copy and account work, as well as four non-profits in public relations management. McLaughlin teaches rhetoric, theory and research, public relations, interpersonal and intercultural, and writing and public speaking courses. Her essays and articles have appeared in the Journal of Communication and Religion, Priscilla Papers, and the Africanus Journal. McLaughlin has worked with local women’s organizations, a maternity home, and serves on several boards.

Rose M. Metts is associate professor of English composition and rhetoric at Savannah State University in Georgia. While active in her community with several service-learning projects involving her students, she also focuses on faith communities and the need for cross-cultural outreach. Her research interest led her to a qualitative case study of a Southern inter-racial church, ending in a dissertation that identified strategies which maintained its culturally diverse quality.

Ramesh Rao is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies, Longwood University, in Farmville, VA. He teaches courses ranging from Intercultural Communication to Conflict Resolution. Rao is the author of two books on Indian politics and society, and is currently working on a book on intercultural communication. He has written for Indian and American newspapers and magazines on politics, society, and religion. As the Human Rights Coordinator for the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), he wrote seven of the eight annual human rights reports (2004-2011), and is now an Executive Council member of HAF.

Charles Soukup is an associate professor of communication at the University of Northern Colorado. His research and teaching emphasize the role of technology and media in the formation of culture and community. His research has examined dialogue in interfaith communities, virtual communities on the World Wide Web, mobile technologies in the individual’s everyday life, and digital popular culture texts. Soukup’s work has appeared in a wide range of academic journals such as Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, The Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, New Media & Society, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Western Journal of Communication, and Southern Communication Journal.

Barbara S. Spies, OFS, is an associate professor of communication arts at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is a Secular Franciscan and has research interests in Franciscan Peacemaking, mediation, religious communication, First Year Experience, and communication education. Spies is a past director of the First Year Experience program at Cardinal Stritch University.

Mark Ward, Sr., is an assistant professor of communication at the University of Houston-Victoria, where he directs the basic course and teaches organizational communication and leadership. Author of two books on the history of religious broadcasting, his studies of religious radio have appeared in Evangelicals and Popular Culture and the Journal of Media and Religion, while his ethnographic research on fundamentalist Christians has been reported in the Journal of Communication and Religion and Intercultural Communication Studies. In addition to studying communication and culture in religious groups, he has researched settings as diverse as bureaucrats, video game players, and college classrooms. His book Deadly Documents explores the organizational discourse of Nazi administrators during the Holocaust, and related articles have appeared in the Journal of Holocaust Studies, Journal of Business and Technical Communication, and other venues.


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