The history of the American heartland sometimes appears as little more than a bloody farrago of killing which, in the God-soaked vocabulary of the perpetrators, must be understood not as murder, but as something inevitable and even holy. This tradition persists long after the Native American resistance to European settlers was put down by settlers and soldiers certain of providential favor.
In an interview with Oxford professor Michael Willis
about Tunisia, Radio Free Europe correspondent Hossein Aryan noted that "there
has not been a religious dimension to the unrest" in the Middle East. This is
quickly becoming the conventional wisdom.
I'd like to see this award-winning journalist's book read by
all Christians--from evangelicals who believe that their life's calling is to save
souls to those Christians who, while denouncing proselytizing, feel called to offer
compassionate, practical aid to those who need help. For either of the above
missionary types, Griswold dispels illusions. She is fearless in following a story
into the most remote village, and wise in her understanding of how religions
collide and inflame and exacerbate volatile situations.
I travel to the Middle East at least once each year, often visiting
multiple countries. I belong to an evangelical-Muslim discussion group
which meets annually, and the participants include pious, brilliant,
generous Muslim scholars whom I count as my friends. When a topic like
"Islamophobic America" comes up, I share intense personal e-mails with
them. But I came away from my trip to the Middle East this past summer with some new concerns.
It was not what was predicted by mainstream sociologists who followed in the footsteps of Karl Marx, Max Weber and Émile Durkheim, but it has happened. Instead of slowly withering away or lodging itself quietly into the privacy of worshipers’ hearts, religion has emerged as an important player on the national and international scenes.