Welcome to SOULJOURN – the novel and the journey! This site is devoted to exploring the religions of the world and to advance interfaith understanding and cooperation. I’m Jim Burklo, Associate Dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California. I’ll be your host for this adventure – and I hope you’ll contribute your experiences and observations and questions here. How can we learn more about our own faith traditions by being exposed personally to others? How can we grow spiritually through these encounters? How can religions and spiritual traditions get along with each other and work together to make a kinder and more sustainable world? These are just some of the questions we’ll explore here.
SOULJOURN is a novel with a mission: to inspire readers to explore the world’s religions, in their own “back yards”! SOULJOURN moves people to learn more about their own faiths by engaging personally with religious communities other than their own. It also inspires people to put their faith to work for the common good. The book is a conversation-starter – here at this Patheos blog, but also in living rooms, coffee shops, and faith communities everywhere.
Become a SOULJOURNER – do what Joshua T. Stoneburner did, and explore the religious diversity of America! Reporting on five visits to religious communities of traditions other than your own, and answering 5 questions in the book’s Study Guide, makes you a SOULJOURNER. Sign up to become an official certified SOULJOURNER here. Report on your experiences of religious exploration – whether or not you want to be certified – here at the COMMENTS section of this blog.
About the book: A thirst for God leads Joshua T. Stoneburner on a quest through the spiritual landscape of America. In his pickup truck, Joshua T. Stoneburner bounces down the back roads of America’s vast and irregular religious landscape, his tires kicking up dusty rooster-tails of questions about the nature of God and the purpose of life. Was it God he saw in the cactus? Josh isn’t giving up till he finds out, even if it turns his teenage years upside-down. His search for clues leads him into every form of spirituality he can find — enlightening, exasperating, and entertaining the people along his path. Each faith exposes more of the pattern in his vision, tantalizing the reader with religious revelations. Along his way, Josh is drawn toward stranded immigrants, a tormented church janitor, a café waitress and her young fraternal twins, a Native American scout for drug smugglers, and his own fumbling father’s love. Josh Stoneburner is the “coyote” spiriting the reader back and forth over the border of laughter and tears. By the end of the book, Josh has questioned his way into faithful compassion, rather than affiliating with any particular faith. SOULJOURN taps the aquifer of humor that exists under every religion, while it explores the ways that American culture, and every faith that crosses the US border, infect each other. SOULJOURN is an entertaining way to learn about the religions of the world, and to get inspired to learn a lot more.
To become a “certified SOULJOURNER”, create yourself an account at credly.com. Visit 5 houses of worship/prayer of religious or spiritual traditions other than your own. Report on the places and dates of your visits, and your experiences at these religious communities, in at least a paragraph per site. Also, in at least two paragraphs per question, respond to any 5 of the SOULJOURN “Study Guide” questions. Post all these reports and responses as one “comment” on the COMMENTS section of this blog, and you will receive an electronic “badge” from the SOULJOURNERS Credly site certifying your status as a SOULJOURNER. Anyone can become a SOULJOURNER! It’s also useful as a curricular supplement in courses that study world religions. (This “badge” can also be issued directly by teachers or other professionals in schools, colleges, universities, and other institutions via credly.com.)