Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Interview with Paula Fouce, author of 'Not in God's Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict'

Paula Fouce is a critically acclaimed filmmaker and author. Her film credits include Not in God’s Name: In Search of Tolerance with the Dalai Lama, Song of the Dunes: Search for the Original Gypsies (PBS stations), Naked in Ashes, Origins of Yoga, and No Asylum. Her new book, NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT, delves deeper into the subject of religious intolerance and offers solutions that are aimed at uniting all faiths. She was partner and director of KRCA TV Channel 62 in Los Angeles and served as co-chair of the Southern Asian Art Council at Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Fouce is the owner and president of Paradise Filmworks International, a production company based in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. She is currently working on a book that chronicles her experiences living and traveling with the yogis in the Himalayas.
For More Information
About the Book:

Title: Not in God’s Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict
Author: Paula Fouce
Publisher: Paradise Filmworks International
Pages: 254
Genre: Nonfiction/Religion
Format: Paperback/Kindle/Nook/iTunes

“We're all praying to the same Divine, which is called by many names or no name at all.” In her new book, NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT (based on award winning film that aired on PBS "Not in God's Name: In Search of Tolerance with the Dalai Lama"), Paula Fouce searches for solutions to end the escalating violence between religious groups. She has lived and worked in many South Asian countries including India, Tibet, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Kashmir, where she experienced a variety of vast cultural and religious diversity.  But Fouce came face-to-face with the destructiveness of religious-based conflict while in India when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.

As a result of Gandhi’s murder, thousands of Sikhs were massacred. Fouce escaped unharmed, but she was shaken by the explosion of violence from a people who had treated her with care and compassion before the death of their leader. The experience prompted Fouce to undergo a personal quest to understand the reasons behind the intolerance. What was the genesis of violent religion-inspired conflicts – the underlying chaos that has led to major violent conflicts such as the Crusades (1095–1291), the Partition of India in 1947, the 2009 Mumbai attacks, the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, the 2015 Paris attacks, and other religion-inspired conflicts?

In NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT, Fouce shares her journey for spiritual enlightenment that began after she survived a car crash in which she was thrown from the vehicle. After her recovery, Fouce traveled to India in 1974 for a semester of study focused on Hindu and Buddhist art. During an early trip, Fouce met Mother Teresa. She returned to India after graduating from college to continue her spiritual exploration, export art, and guide luxury tours.

NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT discusses the histories of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity, as well as Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, and other religions. Fouce spoke with several leaders in the religious tolerance movement, including the Dalai Lama; Mark Juergensmeyer, professor of Religion at the University of California, Santa Barbara; Dr. Karan Singh, a member of India’s Upper House of Parliament; and Dr. Joseph Prabhu, a trustee of the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions. In the book, the author asks probing questions of faith leaders and scholars in order to devise solutions for ending the violence among religious groups.

“Although there are differences, we can develop a deep respect for all faith traditions that contribute untold richness to our civilization. Religious tolerance is our greatest tool for promoting world peace,” Fouce says. She identifies specific causes of religious intolerance and offers solutions for bringing the world’s faiths together.

After escaping the Indian religious riots in 1984, Fouce was “was struck with how religion had been twisted and used to create dissention and violence, the antithesis of its intention. My point of view is focused on how to bridge our differences; and my book goes into detail, even describing the compassion training that is now taught in many top universities.” Over the three-year period that Fouce worked on NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT, she used the transcripts from interviews for the film documentary of the same title (which was aired on PBS stations nationwide) and researched news stories of current religious conflicts. “Education is sorely needed to ensure a peaceful world where it is understood that diversity is not a threat or a detriment to one’s own good. Diversity is to be celebrated,” Fouce says. “Our unquestionable right as human beings is to freely worship the God of our understanding and to follow that spiritual path whose practices support our doing so.”

Fouce’s purpose for writing NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT is to help the reader to understand that there are solutions to religious intolerance. “How do we change the minds of violent fundamentalists? This is the real task ahead, together with preventing people from being attracted to such ideology in the first place. Can we find a middle ground, a live-and-let live coexistence? Herein lies the only answer to the challenge of creating a peaceful future with acceptance. The continued existence of the human race depends on it.”

For More Information

  • Not in God’s Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Download your copy at iTunes.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first. When did you start writing?
About 35 years ago.
As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?
Getting really inspired by topics that fascinated me, and feeling connected to interviewers on radio shows who really understood the sad dichotomy of religion, which is so personal and beautiful, being used to foster hatred.
If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?
To the pilgrimage spots of India, high in the Himalayas.
If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?
Catch up on my work to promote my new film, No Asylum: The Untold Chapter of Anne Frank’s Story.
Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?
The route that the original Gypsies took across Asia to Europe on the Old Silk Road.
In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?
Yes, to meet and interview many religious figures, such as Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama. I went into madrassas and was in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Tibet, China and many other countries. I went on pilgrimages with Yogis throughout the Himalayas and stayed in ashrams and temples.
Why was writing your book so important to you?
Because I feel personally affected by the beauty of the great faiths, and deeply saddened when they are misused to create terrible bloodshed.
Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?
Sometimes after viewing art, films, reading magazine articles, or listening to the radio. Because whatever I’m taking in makes me recall other things that have interested me greatly and add to the reservoir of information on the subject – that later turns into a book.
Any final words?
Thank you so much for your interest in Not in God’s Name: making Sense of Religious Conflict.

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