Hearing the Call Across Traditions

Edited by Adam Davis. Skylight Paths Publishing, 2009.

Hearing the Call Across Traditions is a collection of readings that raise deep questions about service and its roots in faith. The readings explore the connections between faith, service, and social justice through prose, verse, and sacred texts of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and more. The collection is a resource for faith and interfaith groups, service and volunteer programs, and other civic groups, and includes discussion questions for each selection.

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Table of Contents

Why do I serve?


  • The Drum Major Instinct, Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Why the Buddha Had Good Digestion, from Avadānaśataka
  • In Praise of Generosity, from the Rig Veda
  • Solidarity, Reciprocity, and Sanctity,  Abraham Joshua Heschel
  • A Handful of Dates, Tayeb Salih
  • The Subjective Necessity of Social Settlements, Jane Addams
  • Action and Non-Action, Chuang-Tzu
  • Isaiah 58:2-12
  • Three Poems, Shih Te
  • Luke 10:25-37
  • Miserliness, Hamza Yusuf
  • The River, Flannery O’Connor
  • Compassion, The Dalai Lama
  • The Joy of Giving Joy, Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Selfless Service, from the Bhagavad Gita
  • Surahs 93 and 107, from the Qur’an
  • Church, Tim O’Brien
  • Section 50 from Gitanjali: Song Offerings, Rabindranath Tagore
  • Between, Harold M. Schulweis
  • The Base of All Metaphysics, Walt Whitman

Whom do I serve?


  • A Good Traveler Has No Fixed Plans, Lao-Tzu
  • The Faces of Poverty, Dorothy Day
  • The Difference Between, Hafiz
  • The Man to Send Rain Clouds, Leslie Marmon Silko
  • If Not Higher, I.L. Peretz
  • The Same Inside, Anna Swir
  • The Problem of Old Harjo, John Oskison
  • Meditation on Compassion and Not Two, Thich Nhat Hanh
  • The Legend of the Lowly Devotee, in The Tiruvacagan
  • Ruth 1-4:22
  • The Mexican-American and the Church, Cesar Chavez
  • The Walk, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  • The Shopping-Bag Lady, Linda Gregg
  • The Camel Driver and the Adder, Bidpai
  • A Rich Young Man on the Road, Valerie Martin
  • Say Yes Quickly, Rumi
  • His Grace, Mikhail Naimy

How do I serve?


  • God’s Grandeur,  Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • The Secret of Work, Swami Vivekananda
  • Reb Yozifl and the Contractor, Sholom Aleichem
  • First Days of Spring, Ryokan
  • Sitting with the Dead, William Trevor
  • Mercy: The Stamp of Creation, Umar Faruq Abd-Allah
  • Yajna, Welfare, and Service, Mahatma Gandhi
  • Reflections on Gandhi, George Orwell
  • Levels of Giving, Maimonides
  • The Buddha’s Last Instruction, Mary Oliver
  • North Light -- A Recollection in the Present Tense, Mark Helprin
  • Come Out and Give Something, Rumi
  • The Pure in Heart, Peggy Payne
  • The House, Gabriela Mistral
  • Proclamation of a National Fast-Day, Abraham Lincoln
  • The Yogi Dyes His Garments, Kabir
  • Why I Make Sam Go to Church, Anne Lamott