The tenth parallel - the line of latitude seven hundred miles north of the equator - is a geographical and ideological front line where Christianity and Islam collide. More than half of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims live along the tenth parallel; so do sixty percent of the world’s 2 billion Christians. Here, in the buzzing megacities and swarming jungles of Africa and Asia, is where the two religions meet; their encounter is shaping the future of each faith, and of whole societies as well.
An award-winning investigative journalist and poet, Eliza Griswold has spent the past seven years traveling between the equator and the tenth parallel: in Nigeria, the Sudan, and Somalia, and in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The stories she tells in The Tenth Parallel show us that religious conflicts are also conflicts about land, water, oil, and other natural resources, and that local and tribal issues are often shaped by religious ideas. Above all, she makes clear that, for the people she writes about, one’s sense of God is shaped by one’s place on earth; along the tenth parallel, faith is geographic and demographic.
An urgent examination of the relationship between faith and worldly power, The Tenth Parallel is an essential work about the conflicts over religion, nationhood and natural resources that will remake the world in the years to come.
If you are interested in the background of the conflicts between Islam and other religions, particularly between Christians and Muslims, this is a great primer. While I preferred the book Tea With Hezbollah for readability/listenability, The Tenth Parallel covered more history and geography and was a much more comprehensive treatment. Tea With Hezbollah was more personal and gave one more incite into the personalities and nature of many of the major characters in today’s Middle East.
It is astonishing that in both books, the authors had access into some of the most dangerous places on the planet and lived to write about it. Though many begin with religious proselytizing, like so many other conflicts around the world, these conflicts are not solely about religion. One has to wonder though if the majority of these conflicts are not rooted in, inspired and perpetuated by religion. Listening to the historical context and appreciating the consistency of our own human nature throughout the ages, one also has to wonder if there is any hope for our species in ever resolving anything and living together peacefully.
While I give the book high marks, technically, I thought the book seemed a bit disjointed and lacked cohesion. It seemed to be hastily crafted as though the author was in a hurry to get it to press. I was also not thrilled with the reader. Her delivery, particularly in the beginning, was so rapid fire, it was like she too could not wait to finish the book. The high marks represent my regard for what I feel is the scholarliness, comprehensiveness and amount of work that went into gathering and relating the basic content. Unless one is very well-grounded in world history along the tenth parallel, it would seem difficult to digest the majority of what is contained in this book upon only one reading.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Eliza Griswold is the daughter of a Bishop and has come away from that childhood with a rather agnostic approach to faith. An interesting journalist and observer of the human condition, she deals with what she calls “the fault line” between Christianity and Islam using a geographic framework. In her “The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line between Christianity and Islam,” she sends anecdotal insights into what is going on where the two faiths intersect at the tenth parallel. I found the book intensely interesting, human, witty, detailed, informative, disturbing, insightful, and informative. Before you choose to read this book, let me tell you what it is. First, it is a series of “dispatches” or transmissions from the “front” and, therefore, does not contain a lot of analysis or solutions. It is simply very informative and places the issues in context geographically and theologically. Second, readers may believe that she comes with a particularly, Christian or Islamic point of view. That did not seem to be the case for me. Indeed, she seems to be somewhat sceptical of faith as exhibited by the players in her stories. The reader will, of course, make a personal judgment. The book is worth your time.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I don't have much to add to the excellent reviews already provided. I recommend the book because it will provide information not readily available elsewhere. The author reveals her biases early in the book. However she seems to provide both sides in a dispassionate manner. The book is more concerned with presenting the opinions of individuals than in presenting a "definitive" account of the conflicts it describes. I did not think the book dwelled on global warming in particular except to emphasize that the conflicts, which are more about the competition for resources than religion, are exacerbated by the climate changes that affect this area just north of the equator more than any other area. If you are interested in third world countries and Africa in particular, this is a stimulating and valuable book.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
There's LOT'S of information and facts. She quotes from both the Koran and the Holy Bible. I believe she handles both sacred texts correctly. My only dislike was her constant attempts to provide information to promote the global warming agenda. I was CONSTANTLY polled about this subject in 2007 & 2008 to the point where I became very annoyed. With all the billion dollar bailouts and trillion dollar deficits it isn't one of my major concerns. She should leave global warming to experts, like Al Gore.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Eliza Griswold writes about Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines as battleground nations; i.e. battlegrounds for organized relgion.
Two religions are battling along “The Tenth Parallel”, ten degrees above the equatorial latitude of the world. Griswold is the daughter of a Bishop of the Episcopal Church. She graduated from Princeton and has built a reputation as an investigative journalist with her 2004 investigation of the Waziristan region of Pakistan.
Franklin Graham is saved by his religious belief but he lives in luxury while most of tenth parallel’ citizens live in squalor and degradation. It is not that Franklin Graham is not trying to do good in his intervention in Darfur and other “tenth parallel” countries but his goal of religious conversion diminishes the living reality of those who die of starvation, disease, rape, and murder.
People like Al-Bashir are not using rationalization; they are simply using whatever means are necessary (religion, terror, genocide) to make leader's lives more luxuriant.
The self-delusion of people like Franklin Graham may be as harmful as the bestiality of Al-Bashir. Griswold reveals only an aspect of leadership’s perfidy in religious conflict in “The Tenth Parallel”; i.e. human nature is the source of evil in the world. Organized religion and God are two different things; i.e. organized religion is a human creation; God is …
If you could sum up The Tenth Parallel in three words, what would they be?
Timely, thought provoking, scary
What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?
How different but equally determined cultures co-exist
If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
A massive confligration of life and religion
A very good work of investigative journalism. Griswold writes of her experiences traveling to Africa and southeast Asia to explore the roots of conflict between Muslims and Christians in places where members of the two faiths live alongside each other and compete for converts. Not surprisingly, much of the friction she finds isn't simply about religion, but is fueled by politics, economics, and historic legacy (colonial rulers would often deputize one group of natives, but not another). As her many interviews reveal, in regions where religion is a primary source of identity and social empowerment, people on both sides fear that their faith and culture is under siege, a perception that political leaders are only too happy to exploit. The book also explores the way global revivalist movements in both religions (including American evangelism) do their own part to inflame passions in local struggles, treating them as fronts in a larger war to unite true believers behind all-or-nothing interpretations of sacred scripture.
It's a troubling book for anyone who believes in religious pluralism, but it does much to illuminate what religion really means in other parts of the world. Unlike in the US, where participation in society is not hugely determined by a person's faith, religion in the developing world can be central to one's political, social, and economic ties. Still, Griswold finds hope in the fact that there are people on both sides who recognize the damage that political inflexibility over religion does, and in the tremendous diversity of opinion that exists *within* both Christianity and Islam.
All in all, an informative read, though it would have been interesting had she broken the strict geographical focus and looked at places like the Middle East, the Balkans, or even the US, for a little more big picture discussion. Still, this book will give interested readers an appreciation for the complexity with which religion is entwined with much else in societies along the 10th parallel.
What a fabulous book, the narrative of her trek across the 10th parallel is
fascinating, and illuminates much of the distress in that part of the world