Reader's Corner Idaho Statesman Column
10:34 am
Sun September 2, 2012

"The Tenth Parallel" By Eliza Griswold

A daily battle is raging along the 10th Parallel – the line of latitude 700 miles north of the equator in Africa and Southeast Asia where Islam and Christianity intersect.

In this critical geographical band, religious ideologies clash, often erupting into deadly violence as more than half the world’s Muslims and 60 percent of the world’s Christians compete for the souls of the region’s burgeoning population.

Award-winning journalist Eliza Griswold spent seven years traveling throughout the region researching six countries at the heart of this contest — Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. The result is the book “The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam.”

Griswold began her journey with a simple question: Does fundamentalism lead to violence? To find an answer, she visited with people from all walks of life who deal daily with questions of faith.

Her stories come from the experiences of Christians and Muslims she met in unlikely places — the wedding of a tribal woman to a Muslim man in the jungles of Malaysia, the home of the Emir of Wase in Nigeria, the offices of Horn Afrik FM radio in Somalia and at a gravesite on an isolated island in the Philippines.

Along the way, Griswold discovered that what often seems to be a purely religious conflict is rooted as much in material concerns such as oil, minerals and other natural resources as it is in faith. And perhaps even more importantly, she illustrates how the conflicts that arise from within religions can be much more worrisome than those between conflicting faiths.

The daughter of the former presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and an award-winning poet as well as a journalist, Griswold has an unusual background that she puts to excellent use in her book. “The Tenth Parallel” offers a nuanced perspective on a complex topic, one that will leave readers with new insights about the issues behind conflicts in some of the most volatile regions of the world.

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