Many encounters between people of different religions are marked by an initial sense of incompetence, ignorance and fear-- of getting it wrong, of causing offence, of ulterior motives.
Such fears are here explored honestly, in stories of actual situations and relationships - often unexpected, sometimes funny, invariably profound.Friendship is presented as a public rather than merely a private phenomenon, enabling relations of trust and depth to develop and leading to the possibility of authentic talk and reciprocity of respect and courtesy.
It emerges as a risky venture in learning how to be human, involving honest negotiation, self-sacrifice and a seeking after the truth.
It can enable people to address the fears that so often prohibit inter-religious encounters from deepening beyond the superficial.
A strong underlying theme is how the Church of England can contribute to social cohesion in a religiously pluralistic society, even if local clergy and congregations at first feel untrained or wary.