Islam, Christianity and the Ties That Bind Us
Smith, Andreas Whittam, The Independent (London, England)
Three books I took with me on holiday during the summer each left me thinking, gosh, I'm glad I read that. One of them, relatively unknown, is I think, very important. I will come to it last.
A big pleasure was Indecision, a first novel by a young American, Benjamin Kunkel, which I expect will get the same rapturous reception in Britain that it has received in the United States. Jay McInerney described it in The New York Times, after reading it twice, as the funniest and smartest coming-of-age novel in years. In its atmosphere and in its delights, Indecision is a direct descendant of J D Salinger's Catcher in the Rye published more than 50 years ago. You can read Kunkel's first chapter on The New York Times website.
The second book I want to mention has been on the American bestseller lists for 16 weeks and currently lies in second position in the non-fiction category: 1776 by David McCullough. Published by Allen Lane in this country, it describes the opening of the American wars of independence when Britain lost Boston, then in splendid style chased the rebels out of New York but ended the year with a silly defeat at Trenton, New Jersey. I was reading it in Sag Harbor at the eastern end of Long Island, where many combatants in the independence wars lie buried in village cemeteries, each with a special marker and a flag. Almost all the names on the memorial stones are as English as the game of cricket. With Mr McCullough's book in my hand I began to feel as if I was visiting second cousins with whom I had once had a falling out.
The third item on my list is a very different case. It has received little attention. I doubt if it can reach the bestseller lists seeing how difficult it was to find it in good American bookshops. Nor does its title help " The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilisation. I had seen a reference to it just before going away. It is written by Richard W Bulliet, professor of history at Columbia University and published by Columbia University Press.
Professor Bulliet starts by noting that nowadays we easily accept the idea of a 'Judeo-Christian civilisation'. Even though the two faiths were bitter enemies for most of the past 2,000 years, the notion of shared values is no longer questioned. Why have we come to this benign conclusion? Because we have the same bible roots, because we have some similar theological concerns, because we have lived together for a long time and because we value the contribution each has made to our common civilisation.
But consider. The scriptural and doctrinal linkages …
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Publication information: Article title: Islam, Christianity and the Ties That Bind Us. Contributors: Smith, Andreas Whittam - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: September 19, 2005. Page number: 33. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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