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The Body and the Blood: The Middle East's Vanishing Christians and the Possibility for Peace [Paperback]

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Pages   512
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   1.3 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Publisher   PublicAffairs
ISBN  1586481657  
EAN  9781586481650  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
A Boston Globe bestseller: As the Jews and Muslims fight a war in the Middle East, the missing piece of the puzzle is the region's embattled Christian community.

As the Middle East has gone up in flames, no image so captured the clash of cultures as did the siege at the Church of the Nativity, where Christian monks were trapped inside the fortress-like church, as Palestinian gunmen faced off against the Israeli military for five weeks. As Muslim and Jew battled for control, the Christians were caught in the crossfire: endangered and largely forgotten, victims of somebody else's war.

In The Body and the Blood, Charles M. Sennott examines the dwindling Christian communities of the modern Middle East in search of answers to the following questions: Why is Christianity dying out in the land where it began? And what are the consequences, not only for the future of Christianity but for the Middle East itself? From Israel to Lebanon to Egypt to Jordan to the ancient cities of the West Bank, Sennott finds that the themes resonating today are the same as those that convulsed the region at the time of Christ. His frontline reporting is powerful and provocative, as he shines a new light on the Middle East.

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More About Charles M. Sennott

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Charles M. Sennott is the European Bureau Chief of the "Boston Globe," Through sixteen years as a journalist he has covered the Persian Gulf War, the civil conflict in Northern Ireland, wars in Latin America and Afghanistan, the World Trade Center bombing, and the standoff at Waco. In 1998 George Magazine named Sennott one of the top ten journalists in America; "Boston Magazine" has named him the best reporter in Boston. A Massachusetts native, Sennott and his family live in London.

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1Books > Subjects > History > Middle East > General   [1334  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
The Body and the Blood  Jun 9, 2008
This is a fascinating first-hand account of the Holy Land as seen by the author-journalist. While much of the writing deals with the disappearance of Christians in the Holy Land and the causes of their emigration,the author presents a balanced view of the three Abrahamic faiths and the difficulties encountered in their living together in this country. Although written in 2000, the information presented is still current as the struggles continue. If anything, the situation is even worse now that when the book was written. The suthor interviewed many individuals as he traveled throughout the Holy Land, and I found their stories very interesting.
A Great Perspective  Nov 25, 2006
This is one of the best books I have read about the Middle East. The set up of the book that follows Jesus' path 2000 years later and the fact that the author looks at the Christian life in these places makes the book so interesting. The writer defenitly has a great perspective because he is right in the middle of the events and talks to real people. He wasn't an outsider.
At the end I want to say that it was heratbreaking to read about the vanishing Christian population. I dont see a way to change the tide which makes it even more sad.
The book also gives good examples of the daily Paletinian life and how Israel make is impossible.
Great book if you are interested in the region.
Very interesting and enlightening book  Jun 20, 2005
I picked up this book because of my interest in the subject. I am not so much interested in the religious aspects (although Jerusalem and it's basis in three faiths is always fascinating), as I was in how the conflict between the Arabs and Israelis has poisoned an entire region. After all Christianity was born in this area. As the author points out, many people don't understand how Christians can be challenged by the ongoing situation in the Middle East. The dwindling Christian population of Jerusalem is just one example. I had not really thought of this tertiary effect of the Arab-Israeli conflict because US news tends to be "very "go-go" with the hurly-burly of idiots parading around, making explosives of the real or imaginary, detonating them with the passion of their idiocy, and yet, ignoring the gentle, thoughtful people who are the true makers of society"
As the author points out, Christians and Jews alike lived in the region for a millenia without (largely) rancor. Today, with radical Muslim cleric and their talk of the Crusaders and Jews in the mosques, young radicalized and sometine hopeless Arabs believe the mind poison and feel rage even against their Arab neighbors who have a different religious background. The author also points out the growing radicalization of Orthodox Israelis combining nationalism and religion in a mirror of the Muslims around them. It is an explosive mix (pun intended). The fate of Lebanon with the Maronite Christian population dwindling is telling in of itself. Prior to 1975, many thought Lebanon to be the model of a cosmopolitan Arab state. It was once thought Lebanon would become the pathfinder for the recognition of Israel. This book makes clear just how much Lebanese society has changed.

The author discusses the takeover of the Bethelehem Church of the Manger (where Jesus was believed to have been born). This event was shocking because it seemed to indicate that the Arab-Israeli conflict had spilled over into Christianity's most revered spots.

The book is well-written. Like a book of another generation still worth reading (Thomas Friedman's From Beirut to Jerusalem) this book will give the reader a spot on report from the region regarding not just Christians in peril, but in the larger sense the current situation of the Middle East. To me the Christians in the book are the prism of innocence, if you will, who have no stake in the political battle and yet are overwhelemed by the entire scene of madness. From this prism, you are allowed to glimpse the Arab-Israeli conflict in all its madness.

It is too bad the author could not go to Iraq and visit with the Chaldean Christians who are being terroized by the unstable situation in Iraq. Generations ago, the Iraqi Jews were sacked, and now the Chaldeans are being run out as well.

If you have any interest in the Middle East, whether from the purely political perspective, or you have an interest in Christianity in a time of conflict, or you wish an interesting perspective of what is going on in the Middle East from a different and unique perspective, this is a good book to read. I won't say it is 'fair and balanced,' but in my book your job as reader is to decipher for yourself where you stand on issues as part of good critical reading.

All in all, worth reading.

Excellent and important book on the modern Middle East   Mar 1, 2005
_The Body and the Blood_ by Charles M. Sennott is an excellent, important, and timely book, one of the best I have ever read on the modern Middle East. In this work he sought to do three things; one, tour the lands that Jesus visited as chronicled in the New Testament, describing what these locales are like today, two, report the problems of the indigenous Christians of the Middle East, and three, to discuss their role in the region.

The Christian presence in the lands Jesus lived in is unfortunately a diminishing one and Sennott was keen to document the historical, economic, political, and religious reasons for this ongoing exodus. In some ways the history of Christians in the Holy Land has always been one of emigration; nearly all of the apostles emigrated, fearing reprisals not only from Rome but also from such Jewish groups as the Sadducees. In the intervening centuries Christians have generally been a minority in the region, except perhaps during a brief period under the Byzantine Empire (in the fifth and sixth centuries).

While small, the Christian presence has endured until the 20th century, where particularly in the latter part of the century (and the early years so far of this century) it has been running the real risk of dying out completely in many areas. According to the census data kept by the Ottoman Empire, the Christian population in 1914 was 24% of what we could call today Israel/Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Turkey; today it is no more than 5%. In British ruled Palestine it was as much as 20% of the population (though some put the figure at 13%), while today in Israel/Palestine it is less than 2%. About 35% of the total Christian population of Israel/Palestine (about 60,000 out of 700,000 total) were among those refugees who fled the fighting in 1948 and were not permitted by Israel to return. The Coptic Church in Egypt - one of the oldest in Christendom, tracing its roots back to Saint Mark the Evangelist, said to have arrived in Egypt in A.D. 60 - is steadily declining as well. The Copts number in 2000 about 5 million, or 6% of Egypt's population of 70 million; in the early 1970s there were 4 million but a bigger percentage of the population at around 12%. In early 20th century Jordanian Christians were 13% of the population; in 2000 they are only 2%. Lebanon has gone from in 1932 a 51.2% Christian population to a 25% one today.

Why have Christians emigrated in such large numbers or otherwise declined as a percentage of the overall population? There are many factors and the author was quick to point out that the reasons for leaving were not always religious in nature. Generally Christian communities have a lower birthrate, while in many areas Muslims have soaring birthrates. In some areas there has been a steady rate of conversion to Islam, generally among young women and as a result of marriage to Muslims.

War has played a big factor in emigration, with in particular Palestinian Christians leaving in waves with each major Arab-Israeli conflict and many thousands of Maronite Christians leaving Lebanon in the fifteen years of civil war (from 1975 to 1990 850,000 Christians fled the country).

The Christians, whether Copts in Egypt, Palestinian Christians, or Maronite Christians in Lebanon, generally had higher levels of education and were wealthier and were therefore better able to move, had more to lose in regional conflicts (such as the many Israeli crackdowns on Palestinian travel and trade with Israel, economically crippling to many Christian-owned businesses), and had to face resentment and jealousy from less well-off Muslim neighbors. Further, they generally had much stronger ties to the West, with Western churches in Europe, North America, and Australia (along with already resident immigrant communities in those nations) often times actively encouraging their emigration. In addition, as more and more of a particularly Christian family immigrated to a particular locale, the pressure mounted on those that remained to join their relations overseas.

However, religion can and does play a role in Christian emigration, and the very fact that Christians are leaving only serves to exacerbate the situation in the Middle East. Christians in Palestine, Egypt, and Lebanon were an important secular and moderating influence in those areas. A minority, the Christians as leaders and as individuals did not emphasis religious differences or indeed religion at all, but instead often promoted unifying traits, whether bloodline among individual families or simply by being Arab. Their very existence and role in the economic and in particular the political life of the nations they inhabited served to promote a sense of pluralism and secular government, a factor working against (particularly in recent years) an increasing "climate of intolerance," whether radical Islamic (particularly in Lebanon with Hezbollah, Egypt, and among the Palestinians) or religiously Zionist. With Christian emigration pluralism and secular governments face an uncertain future.

The increasing role of radical, highly religious Islam has sundered many once mixed Christian-Muslim communities everywhere from Upper Egypt to the West Bank, with Christians futilely pointing out common ties and interests, pleas unheard by angry youths stirred up by radical Muslim clerics, their hatred whipped up against "infidels" and "Crusaders" despite the fact that the indigenous Christians had in general been in the region for millennia and that often tribes and families had both Christian and Muslim branches; suddenly a neighbor your knew all your life was "the enemy." Sometimes this growing divide was encouraged by Israel, whether accidentally by giving preferential treatment to the often better educated, wealthier, and less combative Christians or deliberately by seeking to fracture Palestinians in a divide and rule strategy among Christians and Muslims. Other times the Christians did this to themselves, as the Maronite Christians of Lebanon, eager and greedy to stay in power, would ally with one outside group after another (such as France or Israel) against Muslim factions in their own country.
Christians living within......  Jan 25, 2005
An excellent book detailing the lives of Chrisitians within the Israeli/Arab world and how they are confront predjudice from both sides. Very well wriiten account of a very complex subject matter.

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