*The Tenth Parallel*

The author is Eliza Griswold and the subtitle is Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam.  Excerpt:

Church is no staid ritual in Nigeria; it is a carnival.  One Friday night, I went to the Redeemed Christian Church of Christ at an all-night church ground with three hundred thousand other people.  The figure is larger than the number of Quakers in America — the equivalent of an entire American denomination worshipping at the edge of Lagos.  With no traffic, the church ground is an hour's drive from Lagos.  The choir was a phalanx of thousands of young people sitting under a tent, and I wandered among them, swallowed by the rush of their voices.  Most attendees would spend the night dozing in their chairs of buying peanuts and soda and tapes and T-shirts and a host of other amusements.  The service started at eight.  Around midnight, I left to face hours of traffic and the sizable risk of a carjacking by the bandits who freely roamed the highways, picking off tired churchgoers.

This is the book which everyone is reading, and reviewing, right now.  It has good coverage of Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, and the clash between religions in those areas.  I can definitely recommend it.  My major complaint has to do with framing.  The author reminds us that "the main fault lines are within Islam," or something like that, etc., yet if you read only this book, or for that matter its subtitle, you would come away with a different impression altogether.  The very premise of the book selects for clash among the two major religions surveyed and I don't think the author quite comes to terms with this fact.  She is torn by conflicting impulses to pursue her initial premise to its logical conclusion, and yet also to provide a more politically correct account than what she sees in front of her eyes.


Comments for this post are closed