OGDEN -- Area residents are invited to start preparing now for an Interfaith Week celebration of free events planned for Weber County in early February.
"Interfaith Week is an opportunity for people in the Ogden area of all different traditions to come together and worship, enjoy thoughtful films that have an Interfaith theme and to discuss issues which, instead of dividing us, can bring us together," said the Rev. Nancy Groshart, a deacon at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Ogden.
At the heart of the early publicity for the week's events is an Interfaith book discussion.
The book, to be discussed at 7 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Main Weber County Library, is "Religion Gone Astray: What We Found at the Heart of Interfaith" (SkyLight Paths Publishing, $16.99), by Pastor Don Mackenzie, Rabbi Ted Falcon and Imam Jamal Rahman.
"This book expands on the conversation begun last year with a rabbi, a pastor and an imam," Groshart said, noting that this year's selection is a follow-up book by the same authors who wrote last year's text.
"Getting to the Heart of Interfaith" (SkyLight Paths Publishing, $16.99) was the book discussed at last year's event.
Groshart said this year's book probes more deeply into the problem aspects of religious institutions to provide a profound understanding of the nature of what divides the religious sects.
"They identify four common problem areas in the Abrahamic faiths:
* Exclusivity: Staking claim to a one-and-only truth;
* Violence: Justifying brutality in the name of faith;
* Inequality of men and women: The patriarchal stranglehold on power; and
* Homophobia: A denial of legitimacy."
Twenty copies now are available to take on the honor system at the adult services desk on the first floor at the Main Library, 2464 Jefferson Ave., in Ogden.
Five copies also are available for checkout. One is available at each of the other branches of the Weber County Library.
"When we have a book discussion, regardless of what it's for, we expect to have cheaper editions at the library, and we go on an honor system," said Ann Booth, who is the adult services/customer services manager at the main branch. "That's what we generally do."
Booth said the discussion will be an important one for those who seek an understanding of others.
"I think it's a good opportunity for people to come together and discuss religious similarities -- find the commonalities they have in regard to their faith and their spirituality," she said. "That's the point, I believe, of Interfaith, for people to share things together and find things so they can get along well."
Booth said she believes the book and the discussion will help those who participate to see similarities in others and talk with each other rather than to find differences and arguments as they celebrate those commonalities.
Interfaith Week will begin at 5 p.m. Feb. 2, a Saturday, with a musical tribute in the ballroom of the Shepherd Union Building at Weber State University.
Events will continue through the week.
The libraries soon will have fliers with event times and locations listed.
"The Musical Tribute is a wonderful celebration of some of the diverse talent in our community from many different groups and individuals," Groshart said.
Following those first two events, the week will continue with activities at the Pleasant Valley Branch of the Weber County Library, 5568 S. Adams Ave., Washington Terrace.
Interfaith Week's Tuesday activity will be a Taize service at 7 p.m. in the activity center at the Pleasant Valley Branch.
"It's a service designed to achieve a contemplative state, using music, meditation, silence, reading and prayer," said Kathy Pudlock, manager at the Pleasant Valley Branch.
She said the activity center will provide for an intimate Interfaith worship opportunity.
"We usually kind of lower the lights a little," Pudlock said. "It's kind of nice."
At 7 p.m. Feb. 6, participants will be able to view "Co-Exist," an unrated film about real-life stories of Rwandans who questioned their own reaction to violence and forgiveness.
"This will give people a chance for crucial conversations in our own communities about how we see differences in others and how we treat others as a result of those differences," Pudlock said.
At 7 p.m. Feb. 7, those who attend will be able to view "Mr. and Mrs. Iyer," another unrated film.
"It's about a woman, a conservative Hindu. She is traveling on a bus, and accompanying her is a wildlife photographer, a Muslim. They travel through an area fraught with Hindu and Muslim rioting."
Pudlock said men who are Hindu board the bus.
"In order to protect the photographer, she introduces the photographer as her husband. She feels like it's her only option to protect him."
The final event for the week, at 1 p.m. Feb. 9, in the activity center will be an Interfaith story circle.
"This is an activity for families to kind of participate in a fun-filled activity," Pudlock said. "There will be stories, music and crafts to experience different faiths."
Pudlock said she believes the activities will be important events for those who seek religious acceptance.
"I think anytime you can present different points of view, it brings understanding," she said. "A lot of the time, when people have prejudice and discrimination, it's (because of) lack of knowledge about that culture or religion. (Interfaith Week) is a chance to bring an awareness of other cultures and faiths."