Top positive review
53 people found this helpful
on March 15, 2002
The story of Kiser's book is deceptively simple: in 1996 a small group of Christians from a Trappist monastery in Algeria was kidnapped, then murdered by Islamic extremists. The book explains how the Trappists came to Algeria, why they remained there under conditions of great personal danger, how they earned the admiration of hundreds of Muslims from all over Algeria, and why they became in 1996 a convenient target of Islamists. These elements of the story are reported by Kiser in clear, sensitive, sometimes moving prose.
The deeper theme of the book is the prospect of a modus vivendi between Christians and Muslims. Kiser makes the case that living together in community may be possible for those religious peoples with an expansive, inclusive understanding of their faiths. He thinks that the Trappists had such a large, attractive vision of Christianity, and he points out that certain large-hearted Muslims met them half-way. At the end of the book, Kiser speaks of the nineteenth-century Muslim leader Abdel Kader as the heroic model for Muslims who want simultaneously to adhere to their own traditions of worship and to reach out to righteous Christians.
Kiser's book is thought-provoking, right-minded, even lofty in its hopes for the future. I must say, however, that the evidence discussed by Kiser can be read in another way -- namely, as an indication that the differences between Christianity and Islam are so vast that even saintliness cannot bridge them.
For those interested in Algeria, in Islamism and disciplined spiritual life this book is a must.