A Bookish Conversation 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.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I was trapped in a religious riot in 1984 in India, and nearly lost my life. Previously living in the Himalayan region had been idyllic and peaceful. This terrifying experience caused me to go on a quest to understand religious intolerance. I used to work in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kashmir, at a time when they were very peaceful and have witnessed the transformation brought about by terrorism.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

The difficult part of writing this book was to decide what to leave out, because there are so many historical and current clashes in the name of religion. The best tip I can provide writers is to research via the internet. It is so much faster and easier then going to libraries, as we had to do in the old days.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I self –published.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

This is my second book, but what surprised me is how much interest people have in finding common ground between their faiths, and how they are enthusiastic about finding solutions.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I am working on a book about living with the Yogis in the Himalayas. It will be published in about a year and a half.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

I like to read news sites and keep up with what is happening internationally, especially in the countries of South Asia where I lived and worked..

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

That there are solutions to hatred and prejudice in the name of religion, that we can all learn.
  
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thank you for your kind interest in the book, Not in God’s Name: Making Sense of Religious Coflict.
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