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Dr. David Carlson
PROFESSOR, PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION DEPARTMENT - FRANKLIN COLLEGE.


A native of Springfield, Illinois and son of a Baptist minister, Dr. David Carlson has long been drawn to the topics of interfaith dialogue, Catholic-Orthodox relations, and Muslim-Christian discourse. With the advent of the tragedy of 9/11 and the religious extremism that would soon follow and evolved into the infamous terrorist organizations of today, most notably ISIS/ISIL, Dr. Carlson has become a leading proponent for advocating for peace through interfaith dialogue.

Working from the organizing principle that the neighbor has sacred value, David Carlson has forged relationships with key stakeholders among adherents in multiple faiths - especially Christianity and Islam - to create alliances for peace and understanding. Carlson has formed spiritual friendship movements that have been incubators for thoughtful discussions and unity initiatives to counter base instincts of Islamophobia and religious intolerance.

"I have realized that forming spiritual friendships comprised of lay people of diverse faiths offers the best hope for defeating religious hatred, suspicion, and violence."
~~ David Carlson

Through his prolific writings - books and articles, and frequent speaking engagements - sponsored by national and international groups and organizations, Carlson encourages people in their faiths and guides them in responding with forgiveness, understanding and compassion to acts of religious hatred and bigotry. Imbued with the Christian precepts of love, peace, gentleness, and kindness, Carlson espouses religious and interfaith exploration that leads to temperance rather than extremism.

In his 2011 book, Peace Be with You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World, Carlson writes, "It is time for Christians to use their power to change the conversation and to ponder Jesus' command to treat the stranger as our neighbor and to treat our neighbor not only as ourselves, but as God in our midst." Through extensive interviews with monks and nuns and posing theological questions while offering trenchant insights, Carlson sought to present a more contemplative stance for the post-9/11 national debate.

"I want to help people face and understand complex situations and avoid simplistic responses."
~~ David Carlson


Carlson continues his commitment to religious reconciliation and spiritual accord in his new book, Countering Religious Extremism: The Healing Power of Spiritual Friendships, which was published in April 2017. In this latest book, Carlson calls on people of various faiths - including Christians and Muslims, to not proselytize at each other, but instead to respect and encourage each other in their faiths.

In spiritual friendships, "grenades" of scriptural texts are not lobbed into each other's camp. In spiritual friendships, the partners do not seek God's peace through theological debate or theoretical speculation. Instead, each partner in a spiritual friendship prays for and assists in deepening the other partner's faith, Carlson writes in his critically acclaimed book.

A distinguished religious studies professor at Franklin College - an Indiana liberal arts college, Carlson's involvement and leadership roles in Shoulder to Shoulder in Interfaith Witness and the Shapiro Group are primary examples of his quest to create an environment of mutual respect and understanding among religions. Shoulder to Shoulder in Interfaith Witness is made up of a group of interfaith activists in south-central Indiana --launched in 2012, that is committed to grieving and witnessing publicly whenever religion is abused for violent purposes. The Shapiro Group is comprised of a gathering of Christians and Muslims who meet weekly to "do the will of God on a daily basis."

"We gather to grieve the misuse of religion and to bear public witness to the true future of religions - standing together shoulder to shoulder and embracing our diversity. We have found being together in the wake of religious violence to be a healing experience."
~~ David Carlson has said of Shoulder to Shoulder in Interfaith Witness


The future of religion in the world will be either to build walls of separation and suspicion or to build bridges of understanding and encouragement. And, as Carlson fervently believes, there is an insatiable hunger on the part of other peoples of faith to come to know one another and to support one another. All of this suggests that there are scores of people throughout the world who want to build bridges of understanding that will lead to enduring peace!

We invite you to join us!

Author Inspiration For the Book "Countering Religious Extremism: The Healing Power of Spiritual Friendships"

David Carlson has just released his newest non-fiction book, Countering Religious Extremism: The Healing Power of Spiritual Friendships, a book that recounts David Carlson's journey into friendship with people of other faith traditions. His book profiles Christians, Muslims, and Jews who come to acknowledge one another's gifts and so come to value their own.

In Dr. David Carlson's Own Words -
As I was finishing my first interview-based book (Peace Be with You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World, Thomas Nelson, 2011), a Muslim friend asked to read portions of the book. I was not sure this book about our nation's responses to 9/11 would make much sense to a Muslim. But to my surprise, my Muslim friend said that the book offers great comfort to American Muslims. One comment of hers that I will never forget is, 'This is the book my father wanted to read before he died.' Other Muslims who read the book have echoed her sentiments.

Those unexpected responses led me to wonder: Could strong spiritual connections exist between persons of different faiths? Benign tolerance will never promote such relationships. Sporadic interfaith gatherings, when clergy or academics gather to meet one another, also fall short of creating and sustaining these connections. Countering Religious Extremism: The Healing Power of Spiritual Friendships (New City Press, 2017) studies and proposes a more heightened interfaith opportunity, one where ongoing spiritual friendships between persons of diverse faiths lead to encouragement of one another.


Copyright © 2016. David C. Carlson. All rights reserved.



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