Community Magazine

Reflection: A Decade of Being Both

By Susan Katz Miller @beingboth

Reflection: A Decade of Being Both

Ten years ago today, Beacon Press published Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family. I have devoted the past decade to helping families to bridge religious boundaries, promote interfaith education for all, and advocate for social justice. My work has been lifting up the voices of those in interfaith families, in order to help the world to understand that we are, by our presence, reducing religious intolerance and creating a more peaceful world.

To celebrate this 10th anniversary, I had long planned a trip to New York City to finally narrate an audiobook edition of the book. Of course, I had no idea when I planned this trip that I would be heading to New York just as a war was breaking out.

Reflection: A Decade of Being Both

Reflection: A Decade of Being Both

I think I was in shock, as many people were, but I had a director and engineer and studio booked, thanks to all of you who donated to the Kickstarter campaign to make this happen. So I got on a train from DC to New York, and then made my way to the studios at John Marshall Media, in the striking art deco Film Center in Hell's Kitchen, to begin recording. There, my director May Wuthrich and my engineer guided me in the surprisingly complex art of narration: breathing in the right places, speaking with the right expression, scanning ahead for the sense of each sentence, nailing every pronunciation, and making inevitable edits as you go along.

For three days, I sat in a soundproof booth, reading the 237 pages of the original book. In a new Author's Note for this 10th anniversary edition, I reflected on what has changed, and what has not, in the past decade. And I recorded a thank you for top audiobook supporters, including Paul Miller, Kathy Hill-Miller and Fred Miller, Margaret and Rich Kelley, Larry Ravitz and Marika Partridge, and Wid Chapman and Shachi Shah. Each day, utterly exhausted after hours of performance on this tiny stage, I commuted "home" on the subway to the lovely oasis provided by Wid and Shachi.

Reflection: A Decade of Being Both

Despite spending my days shut into a glass booth with no cell phone or internet, of course I was thinking about Israel and Palestine the entire time. I was worried about friends and family, about missing the news, about what I should or could be doing in response, and, honestly, about whether the stress would affect my voice. And I was worried that my book, especially ten years on, would seem irrelevant, or naive, under these harrowing circumstances.

But no. This book, these families, and this movement, continue to give me hope at a time when we all need it so much. I felt this with my whole being while reading these words from the final chapter of Being Both:

As I write this conclusion, religious hatred continues to instill fear, incite violence, and prevent peace in the world. Christian supremacists open fire on Sikhs and burn American mosques to the ground. Muslim extremists drive moderate Sufi Muslims out of northern Mali. Jews, Muslims, and Christians still cannot seem to find a way to coexist peacefully in the Middle East. None of this violence has purely religious roots: the causes include ethnic and socioeconomic differences, political manipulation, territorial disputes. Yet demonizing other humans as religious "others" makes such violence psychologically possible.

Reading those words into the microphone, words first drafted more than a decade ago, they could not have seemed more relevant. And so, I made a resolution. I will continue this work of fostering peace across boundaries-and love across boundaries-until the day I am unable to work at all.

Journalist Susan Katz Miller is an interfaith families speaker, educator, and activist. She is the author of Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family (2015), and The Interfaith Family Journal (2019).

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