Fortress Press

Everyday Wisdom: Interreligious Studies in a Pluralistic World

Everyday Wisdom

Interreligious Studies in a Pluralistic World

Hans Gustafson (Author)


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Over the last decade, interreligious and interfaith studies have flourished in religion and theology departments, emphasizing the value of religious literacy for professional, vocational, and civic leadership. Everyday Wisdom offers an accessible introduction with an emphasis on lived religion, interreligious studies, and interfaith engagement and leadership.

Hans Gustafson first explores the study of religion and interreligious studies, including the complexity and dynamism of religious identity, the global religious landscape, lived-religion approaches to the study of religion, and (inter)religious literacy. He then examines the relationship between the academic field of interreligious studies and the civic project of interfaith engagement. Focusing on interreligious studies, he explores various responses to religious diversity, while welcoming the role of secular and pluralist forces in religiously diverse societies. Gustafson introduces the dominant theological modes of approach to other religious traditions and to interreligious theological encounter, and examines the vital experience of human relationship across religious difference for inter- and intra-personal and purpose development, changemaking, and leadership.

By holistically tying together several of the ultimate aims and common learning objectives of interreligious-studies courses, Gustafson proposes a framework, based on practical wisdom, for interreligious studies and interfaith leadership. Everyday Wisdom aims to be a core text in undergraduate and graduate courses in the fast-emerging field of interreligious and interfaith studies, as well as for the wider context of the study of religion and leadership.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506486949
  • eBook ISBN 9781506486956
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 393
  • Publication Date October 17, 2023


"Everyday Wisdom is a unique and creative scholarly addition introducing the recent academic field of interreligious studies in a careful balance with civic interfaith engagement. As a seasoned researcher-practitioner, Hans Gustafson demonstrates a mature understanding of how these two overlapping fields can best reinforce each other 'to advance peaceful relations across diverse religious identities and societies.' Based primarily on a lived-religion experience in the USA, this book is certainly useful for all pluralistic societies worldwide. Diverse audiences of scholars and students in the humanities and social sciences will greatly benefit from its everyday wisdom, whatever their institutional context--secular or religious, private or public. Everyday Wisdom is extremely useful to anyone teaching any kind of courses related to contemporary religions, whether rooted in theology or the critical study of religion. The book also provides practical knowledge for the leadership of religiously diverse professional and civic spaces."

Patrice Brodeur, PhD, professor of religious studies, Université de Montréal

"In the growing and complex field of interreligious studies, Everyday Wisdom offers a much-needed clarification of terms and orientations. But beyond that, the book also provides a set of principles or virtues for a holistic engagement with religious diversity. Everyday Wisdom is a great guide for anyone entering the field."

Catherine Cornille, professor of comparative theology, Boston College

"Synthesizing a field of expanding scholarship, packed with data on religious diversity, and charting strategies for engagement, Hans Gustafson's book provides a detailed road map for navigating interreligious studies. An excellent text to sharpen the scholar's understanding, shape the instructor's teaching, and introduce students to the multifarious reality of religious identities, belonging, and encounter. If there's one text you read for orientation to the field and its future, it should be Everyday Wisdom."

Jeannine Hill Fletcher, author of The Sin of White Supremacy: Christianity, Racism, and Religious Diversity in America

"Timely, smart, and expertly researched and written, Everyday Wisdom is the book for anyone (whether scholar, teacher, practitioner, or the generally curious) looking for a comprehensive analysis of the interreligious studies and interfaith engagement fields. But this work does not stop there. Culminating in Hans Gustafson's four dimensions of 'Interreligious Phronesis' (practical wisdom), it also shows a way forward."

Barbara A. McGraw, JD, PhD, author of Rediscovering America's Sacred Ground: Public Religion and Pursuit of the Good in a Pluralistic America; founding director of the Center for Engaged Religious Pluralism and professor of social ethics, law, and public life at Saint Mary's College of California

"Religion is so messy! Hans Gustafson's book expertly guides the reader through the complexities of religious/interreligious studies and encounter to discover practical wisdom for our collective journey on the earth."

Rachel S. Mikva, author of Interreligious Studies: An Introduction and Dangerous Religious Ideas: The Deep Roots of Self-Critical Faith in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

"Scholars and students in the field of religion will find this a particularly helpful book as they navigate the complex field of interreligious relations. Hans Gustafson does an excellent job in mapping the different scholarly debates and introducing a wide variety of topics related to religion, religious identity, and interfaith dynamics. His lived-religion approach is unique and succeeds in avoiding the problems of essentialization and reification of religious differences. Readers will also appreciate the way he complements the scholarly reflections in part 1 with an introduction to interfaith engagement in part 2. Like no other, Gustafson weaves theory and practice together and thus exemplifies what this book seeks to argue for: a wise and practically informed approach to the study of religion and interfaith relations. Speaking as an interreligious scholar and educator, I cannot wait to use this book in my classroom."

Marianne Moyaert, professor of comparative theology and interreligious dialogue, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven

"Everyday Wisdom is an excellent introductory text to the nexus between religious studies and interfaith engagement, a volume that takes on some of the more challenging intellectual problems in these fields, and a book that introduces compelling new concepts. People at all levels--from students to faculty, new practitioners to seasoned professionals--will find this a fruitful read."

Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith America, and author of We Need to Build: Field Notes for Diverse Democracy

"Everyday Wisdom represents an important leap forward for the fledgling field of interreligious studies. With great clarity and balance, Hans Gustafson explains and addresses the central defining issues the field faces. Gustafson's proposals for how interreligious studies can inform and engage a world of diverse groups with competing commitments reflect the very wisdom the title promises."

Brian K. Pennington, director of the Elon Center for the Study of Religion, Culture, and Society