The Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA’s) 2008 Melcher Book Award will be given to Gustav Niebuhr for his book Beyond Tolerance: Searching for Interfaith Understanding in America. This work explores how Americans of different faiths are finding common ground.
Niebuhr will be presented with the award on Saturday, June 27, 3:30 p.m. - 4:45 p.m., at the UUA General Assembly 2009, in Salt Lake City, UT. The award ceremony will be followed by a book signing by the author. Additional details will be released in advance of the event.
“This book is important,” said Phyllis O'Connell, chair of the Melcher Book Award Committee, “because it tells a post-9/11 story that has been ignored by the media, a story about the profound interfaith work happening in neighborhoods throughout America. This spiritual work is going on all around us, as Niebuhr says, ‘beneath the public radar’.”
Niebuhr spent four years researching the book. Beyond Tolerance explores communities where interreligious cooperation exceeds mere tolerance. He describes Hindus and Quakers in Queens, NY; Catholics and Jews in Baltimore, MD; Baptists and Catholics in Louisville, KY; and Catholics and Buddhists in Los Angeles, CA.
Gustav Niebuhr is associate professor of religion and the media at Syracuse University (SU) and a former New York Times religion reporter. His great-uncle was renowned religious thinker Reinhold Niebuhr and his grandfather was leading theologian H. Richard Niebuhr.
"I am thrilled to be the recipient of the Melcher Award,” Niebuhr remarked. “It holds a special meaning for me for two reasons. First, the award honors the vital tradition of liberal religion, a profoundly formative current in American thought and culture. Second, it comes from the Unitarian Universalist Association, with which I feel an enduring family connection through my father, Richard R. Niebuhr, who taught many future UUA ministers while a professor of theology at Harvard Divinity School between 1956 and 1999."
Established in 1964, the Frederic G. Melcher Book Award is given annually by the UUA to a work published in the United States during the past calendar year judged to be the most significant contribution to religious liberalism. Previous recipients include James Carroll, Richard Rodriguez, Toni Morrison, Dorothy Day, and Joseph Campbell. To learn more, visit the Frederic G. Melcher Book Award information page.
Shelby Meyerhoff, Public Witness Specialist
pw_specialist @ uua.org
Janet Hayes, Public Relations Director
pr @ uua.org
The Unitarian Universalist Association is a faith community of more than 1,000 self-governing congregations that bring to the world a vision of religious freedom, tolerance and social justice. For more information about the UUA, please visit our online media kit.