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Book Review: We Need to Build - Field Notes for Diverse Democracy

Book Review by Jay Moore

We Need to Build: Field Notes for Diverse Democracy. By Eboo Patel


This book, written in 2022, measures up to its billing and to the promotional snippets on the cover meant to sell this volume. I’m sold. 


When I came across it, I had recently taken on a leadership role in my own, local interfaith organization. Our group, Interfaith Grand River, in the Waterloo Region of Ontario, Canada, was now more prominent in my thinking and my eyes and ears were detecting more information around me about “interfaith.” How do we do this? How can people of differing religions and faiths and languages and cultures come together in peace and make a community that results in the flourishing of all of us? Patel has been down that road, the road of not just socio-political diversity and secular inclusion but also the rocky and steep road of religious pluralism. For more than a couple of decades, he has been in the forefront of creating a vision of how to achieve this. His experience is entirely American but most of his principles apply to the Canadian environment, as well.


 On the front cover there is a quote from another author: “A key handbook for navigating the transformative healing - the building - that our world of fracture and disarray so urgently demands.” I agree. It is definitely a handbook, set up with instructions, with do’s and don’ts and with confirming stories of successes and failures.


On the back cover, there are other statements worth repeating here: “The essential handbook for every activist ready to move from resisting injustice to rebuilding a world of justice”; “Patel challenges us to defeat the things we don’t like by building the things we do”; “...inspire and train new leaders who nurture pluralism and communities that are welcoming.”


And finally, the description of the author: “Eboo Patel is founder and president of Interfaith America, the largest organization engaging religious diversity in the United States. He served on President Obama’s inaugural Faith Council, is author of five books on diversity and democracy and writes and speaks frequently on the role of religion in public life.”


I was looking for inspiration and guidance and I certainly found what I was looking for.


Jay Moore

February 2024



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