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Practical Peace
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by Andrew White
The Vicar of Baghdad:  Fighting for Peace in the Middle East (Oxford/Grand Rapids:  Monarch Books, 2009.  191p.)

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An Anglican pastor tells the story of his call into a ministry of Peace and Reconciliation in the Middle East.  This fascinating story tells of the development of multi-religious, or interfaith, coalitions that Andrew White has developed in Israel and Iraq to foster the elimination of violence and the cooperation.

He early felt a strong concern that became a call to address the torn Palestinian situation.  He gained the personal trust of Israeli government leaders and Palestinian Authority leaders, able even to work with Hamas and have some moderating influence.  You will feel his frustration and his elation at precious points as he relates this tedious story and describes the sad situation and some of the behind-the-scenes dynamics you will not have heard in any news story.

He later finds himself as a pastor of a neglected church in Baghdad, in a dangerous situation before the invasion of the coalition, then tells all the harrowing and contrasting experiences through the invasion and occupation period, as he tries to work with the local leaders of the antagonistic religious parties.  An amazing accomplishment in the Iraqi situation is the first-ever fatwa from a Shia leader against violence.

White has successfully gained the trust and cooperation of disparate and untrusting groups due to his personal commitment to the Peace of Christ and his transparent integrity and agonizing persistence through days weeks and months of working with some of the world's most difficult people.  White tells how he got various governments and international agencies involved to provide assistance, funding  and endorsement for his peace-making efforts and community bridge building.

You will enjoy this story and admire this man, whether you share White's specific faith or commitment.  This is more than a story.  It is a challenge to those who claim to follow Christ, to be consistent in their followship of Christ in the reconciliation Christianity claims, so often only in theory.

White is not interested in theory.  Nor is he sympathetic with boiled-down religion that tries to take a homogenous approach to interfaith "dialogue."   He takes his own faith seriously, in its details and foundations.  He likewise respects and honors the faith and commitments of leaders of other religious groups, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and others, so there can be transparent and honest exchange and an honest approach to the real and deep feelings underlying conflicts.

See related reviews and articles on this site:
[review] Complex and Diverse Muslim Realities
[review] Islam, A Realistic and Sympathetic Portrait
[resource] Islam:  Its Life and Values
[review] Muslim and Christian:  Comparing the Paths
[Review] The Real Causes of "Islamic" Religious Violence
[reviews] Reclaiming Islam from the Hijackers: The Real Islam Stands Up
[review] Saddam's Secrets
[review] The Real Causes of "Islamic "Religious Violence"
[reviews] A Sufi Muslim Musician Suffers for His Faith

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Reading Notes written 19 June 2012
Reviewed on Amazon and Thoughts and Resources 30 November 2010
Last edited 7 January 2013

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD
Copyright © 2010 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Please give credit and link back.  Other rights reserved.

Email:  orville@jenkins.nu
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