Tag Archive: Palestine


i know what you’re thinking? What absolute clickbait, right? How could Brett “Fish” Anderson possibly have stumbled on to a real and practical way to achieve peace [of the worldly variety]? Well, what if i told you right off the bat that one of those ways involves flourless pancakes? Exactly. Your mocking is not needed here, chaps. [Nor yours, chapesses although i doubt you’d stoop to that level – you’re just naturally better at some things].

But back to the most serious matter at hand, which was, of course:

WORLD PEACE

Everyone wants it. Most of us fight daily to wrestle back the hopelessness that easily pervades and fills us with such underpowering phrases as “It is only going to get worse”, “There is no hope” or “I can’t believe Telkom still hasn’t sorted out our internet, maybe this week”.

But, as previously, clickbai..um mentioned, i have found two definitive ways of achieving said goal [i don’t want to come across as arrogant and pretend these are the only ways to achieve World Peace cos none of these contain any reference to melted Lindt balls, all night Settlers of Catan sessions or a movie starring Chris Pratt, Kristen Wiig, Paul Rudd AND Johnny Depp, so clearly there may be others…] and here they are:

FLOURLESS PANCAKES 

That is NOT a typo. Actual pancake type things with no flour in them. Not to be confused with the flourless brownies i made from Nicky Lloyd’s mouth-watering recipe that one time when i somehow accidentally managed to omit the entire bag of flour or whatever it was and somehow they still magically and mysteriously tasted flippin amazing [you can leave out the flour, Nicky!]. And what is more we are talking only two ingredients. Three if you count the second egg.

Two eggs and a banana

And look how happy it is…

So to test the power of the internet and whether everything on it can be believed or not, i ventured forth just half an hour ago to test run something i saw but could barely believe. Two eggs and a banana = pancakes. i couldn’t believe it a lot more once i’d chopped my banana into slices like in the picture and added the eggs and had it mixed into a chunky liquidy mess that looked nothing like their i’m-pretty-sure-they-substituted-a-picture-of-actual-flour-filled-pancake-batter pic. So i dived back onto the internet to read, “First mash up the banana completely and then add the eggs.” [They used a lying picture – thankx a lot flourless egg pancake consortium! You have betrayed my trust already, but fortunately i am too far in and so will have to continue].

Then i grabbed a hand whisk and tried my best to get it looking like the fake picture they had submitted which was suspiciously flour-coloured and didn’t look much like the bitty goop i was trying to tease into something more nourishing looking. When i stick my concoction in the frying pan it didn’t look much better and kinda resembled the mess that happens when you’ve finished making your french toast and throw the rest of the egg batter into the pan for a horrendous omelette type creation that NEVER tastes nice.

And then suddenly it happened…

A minute or so i looked back into the pan nervously and an amazing metamorphosis had taken place. Where my squiggly messy omelette flops had been floundering, were now some legitimate looking pancake types and i started to get really excited and hopeful. Like when there is news of a new Star Wars movie happening at the end of the year. But still quite nervousful. Like when there is news of a new Star Wars movie happening at the end of the year. Cos, you know, Jar Jar.

pancakes

But they worked and they were amazing and you should totally try them and if everyone in the world who was fighting or doing bad things to other people in the world just stopped for five minutes and made themselves a batch of two-eggs-and-a-banana flourless pancakes, then at least for those five minutes, the world would be a more peaceful place. Mission very much accomplished. [But seriously, try them and come back and report how amazing they taste!]

EXCHANGE BAGS OF MONEY

i see some of you are still a little skeptical about my Definitive and Practical Ways of achieving World Peace, and if that is you, then handing over bags of money is sure to win you over. Because money, right? Well, at the risk of losing the ‘But what about all the poor people with no bags of money?’ people, bear with me three more minutes [and by that i don’t mean have my children] and take a read of this.

I have been reading this book whose cover is below that i’m sure you can read the title of, and really finding it enlightening.

book

i am still very much quite new in the trying-to-understand-what-is-going-on-in-the-whole-Israel-vs-Palestine-conflict thing and have people [well, a person] telling me this book is more than likely evil [because the internet told him] but i have found it a really interesting read and have learnt a lot about life and nonviolence and perspective along the way. But this morning’s story felt like a must share and if we could harness the heart out of this one, then surely actual World Peace cannot be too much further away:

‘Four thousand years ago, two brothers lived near each other on a hill by Jerusalem. They each had their own farm, but they shared a threshing floor. Every year they would bring in the harvest and divide it equally between them. They they would take the grain to their farms and sell it in the market place.

One of the brothers was wealthy but had no family; the other had a family but was poor. One night after the harvest had been divided into equal measures and taken to each brother’s home, the wealthy brother lay awake in his bed, thinking, “I need just enough grain to pay for my food and servants. But my poor brother, he has so many mouths to feed. He needs the money more than I do.’ He rose up out of his bed and went down to his granary. He lifted up as many sacks as he could carry and started to walk toward his brother’s farm. Just around that time, the poor brother was lying in his bed, unable to sleep: “I have a wife and children who will take care of me and the farm if anything happens to me. But my poor brother – if something happens to him, he will have to pay to be cared for. He needs the money more than I do.” Quietly, so as not to disturb his wife and children, he rose up out of his bed and tiptoed down to his granary.

He lifted up as many sacks as he could carry and walked toward his brother’s farm. The two brothers met midway between their farms, their arms laden with the sacks of grain they were carrying to each other. The full moon shone down upon them as they dropped their bundles and ran to embrace each other. And God looked down and smiled.’

According to legend, on this site Jerusalem was built. With this kind of a spirit, Palestinians and Israelis can move together toward a just peace.

Yeah? World Peace anyone? Bags of grain, bags of money, a loaf of bread, an invitation to a meal round our table, learning the language of ‘the other’, hearing each others stories, giving to people rather than projects… so many streams leading downwards towards this river of World Peace.

Well, there you have it. i guess the irony of Flourless Pancakes followed by a story all about Grain which is used to make flour. i hear the strains of Bono in the distant background crooning out the words, “With or Without Flour…” and maybe something else about “And you give yourself away” or something…

[If you’re a parent, or know one, ‘How To Raise Your Children as World Changers’ might resonate]

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book

i am busy reading this book, that my friend Steve Graybill sent to me while we were in Americaland [after i asked for one of the books he had recently read that was worth reading] and it has been such an interesting read. Steve was the one who recommended ‘The Lemon Tree’ and ‘Blood Brothers’ which i gave a glimpse of over here, as i was trying to understand the Palestinian/Israeli crisis a little bit better. This is more of a theological/discussion book whereas the other two were stories and so a little easier to connect with in some ways. But there has been some very interesting thinking generated by this book – i’m not sure i agree with everything Naim Stifan Ateek says, but some very challenging ideas for sure [the proposal that Samson was the first ‘suicide bomber’ for example, really stopped me in my tracks, because…]

But without doubt the section of the book i really enjoyed and found interesting was this passage from a chapter entitled ‘Son of David or Suffering Servant’ which looks at four groups of people and how they responded to the Roman occupation at the time Jesus lived and how He chose a path different to all of them. It is a bit of a lengthy post but it is SO good, so make some time and dive in… The following section is from the book:

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“BIBLICAL CONTEXT

In the first century Jesus was born under the Roman occupation of His home country of Palestine. In fact, He lived all His life under the Empire and was killed in the end by the occupying forces. As a young man, Jesus, as well as many others in His generation, was attracted by different movements and groups within His society. Each had a basic philosophy about life and God, and each movement had its advocates and proponents as well as its adversaries and opponents.

For many centuries people in Palestine lived their entire lives under the Roman Empire. It was not a benevolent occupation. Any occupation is by nature oppressive because it refuses to grant people freedom and liberation. To a large extent, the options and choices that Jesus faced are still present in our different societies. While other comparisons are equally valid, our focus here compares the groups of Jesus’ time with their counterparts in Palestine today.

These groups arise from our basic nature as human beings and our propensity to relate to people of power, especially in situations where people live under foreign occupation. This was as true for the people of Jesus’ time who lived under Roman occupation as it is for Palestinians today who live under Israeli occupation.

The Zealots

Without doubt, the group most attractive to many young people in Jesus’ day was the Zealots. They were the revolutionaries who believed that the only way to relate to the occupation of their country by the Romans was through armed struggle. The model of violent struggle was not foreign to them; there was a strong tradition for such action. The most recent paradigm was that of the Maccabees who had risen up against the Greek occupation of their country and won their independence. In Jesus’ time, in their struggle against the Romans who had usurped control of their country, the Zealots used the tools of revolutionary violence, countering violence with violence. They believed that their god would fight for them in their righteous struggle.

There were some more extreme factions within the Zealot movement. The Sicarii not only killed their Roman enemies but were ready to assassinate any fellow Jews suspected of collaboration with the Romans. And all of this was done in the name of God.

Scholars tell us it is likely that a number of the disciples of Jesus were Zealot revolutionaries. They saw in Him a leader who could command a great following and contribute to the liberation of the country. There are references in the Gospels that indicate such a temptation. John 6.15 offers an example: “When Jesus realised that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He withdrew again to the mountain by Himself.” Yet Jesus constantly rejected such temptations throughout His ministry, from the temptations of the devil’s offer of the kingdoms of the world (Matt. 4:8-10; Luke 4.5-8) to the cries of the crowd to make Jesus king when He entered Jerusalem near the end of His life (John 12.12-19). The political language of these passages indicates that Jesus could have seized several opportunities to incite a mass insurrection against the Romans, which surely would have involved armed resistance.

The temptation to join the Zealots would have been very real because they shared many of the same goals as Jesus and His disciples. Jesus shared their concern for the poor, and their passion for justice. They were both very committed to the cause, even to the point of death. Roman suspicion that Jesus was a Zealot certainly played a major role in His death.

Today in Palestine the equivalent to the Zealots are groups like Hamas and Al-jihad Al-islami. They believe in revolutionary violence as the means to counteract Israeli state violence and force the Israeli army to end its occupation. They, too, are disciplined and committed to the cause of justice for their fellow Palestinians and have been very compassionate toward the poor and needy in their communities.

The Essenes

This group, disenchanted with the religious system of Jerusalem, left their towns and villages and withdrew into the desert. In the desert, they established communities, busied themselves in copying different texts of the Old Testament scriptures, and developed rules for the daily life of their communities. They avoided involvement with what went on outside.

The Essenes represented an escape from the reality of life, an escape that is still attractive to many people today. This option was open to Jesus: “He could have withdrawn from the tensions and conflicts of the urban center where government and commerce constantly polluted even the most well-intentioned sons and daughters of the law; He could  have sought out a place where He could be pure and perfectly faithful.” Such an approach of escape or isolation can take various forms. People do not have to be enclosed within a monastery to live this way, although some do. Some people emigrate from the area of conflict, leaving everything behind. Others escape by totally withdrawing even within their community, living in isolation from the daily affairs of life.

The Herodians and Sadducees

These were the pragmatists and realists. The Herodians supported King Herod, believing it better to give allegiance to the king who was closer to kin than the alien Romans. The wealthy and conservative Sadducees controlled the temple in Jerusalem and benefitted immensely from it.They stayed on good terms with the people of power to expedite and facilitate daily solutions to contentious problems. They accepted the political situation in Palestine and to a larger extent collaborated with it. They believed that since they could not change the occupation of their country, they might as well not only with it but make the best of it. They made sure that worship in the temple was conducted properly and that nothing should disturb it.

In the conflict over Palestine, many Palestinians have arrived at such realism, accepting the Israeli occupation of their country. In order to advance their business activities or for reasons of prestige, they have allowed themselves to get close to the power and cooperated with the occupation. In some cases their pragmatism has taken on a more sinister aspect, becoming blatant collaboration.

The Pharisees

These were religious fanatics who adhered to the letter of the law. Although the word “pharisee” means separatist, they lived among the people in the village and urban centers of the land, yet separated themselves from anything that in their opinion would defile them. They prided themselves in keeping the purity of the law in meticulous detail as regards eating and drinking, keeping the Sabbath, and many other aspects of daily life. Jesus criticised them for payiing attention to the minute details of the law yet forgetting the more important issues of life such as justice, faith, and mercy (see Matt.23).

The Pharisees comprise a sizable segment of our communities; regardless of the political environment, they continue to practice the rituals and ceremonies of their religion while ignoring the “weightier matters” of justice and love (Matt. 23.23; Luke 11.42). Many cling to the observance of the laws and regulations of religion because they have defined religion in terms of strict adherence to the teachings of the church, mosque, or synagogue regarding worship, fasting, feast days, and so on.

THE NEW WAY OF JESUS

These four options that confronted Jesus confront us today.People are attracted to one or another of them. Many societies offer similar options or philosophies of life that appeal to our human nature. We are always challenged by the “righteous” violence of revolutions, or by escapism and isolationism, or by pragmatism and realism, or by established and popular religion. Each has its attraction, and Jesus must have realised that.

But Jesus chose another way, a way that draws on the best that these paradigms can offer and yet takes religion and faith to a deeper dimension. This is the way of faithfulness to God. Jesus rejected the way of violent revolution and refused to walk the way of collaboration. He would not accept the option to escape life and be uninvolved, and He saw the pitfalls of superficial religiosity where observance and rituals replace morality and authentic relationship with God.

What is the way of Jesus? It is the way of allegiance to God’s kingdom. The way of Jesus is (1) to stand for justice and truth without picking up the sword – that is, to resist evil without using evil methods; (2) to rise above the ways of the world without abandoning involvement and commitment to the poor and oppressed; (3) to seek the humanity of the oppressor without losing integrity by appeasement or collaboration; and (4) to love and worship God without adhering to a strict and closed religion.

Jesus presented God as a loving father/mother who loves and cares for all people equally, a God who is just and merciful. He called into being a distinct community whose basic rule of life is love: the love of God, God’s unconditional love of humans, and the inclusive love of neighbour that denies boundaries. He inspired His disciples to walk a path of nonviolence and to accept God’s will and rule over their life. Jesus asked His community to be salt and light to all those around them. He modelled His understanding of nonviolence as a path that must be followed even if it leads to suffering and death. And Jesus showed that a person can, at one and the same time, live in the world, in the midst of community and serve it and heal it, without conforming to the ways of the world. This is the sabeel of Jesus.

Could Jesus have looked at the availability of these four ways of life and decided not to choose any of them? He must have seen that none of them agreed with the heart of the faith tradition.. He must have felt that while each contained some attractive features, on the whole they strayed from the essence of faith.

He did not choose the way of armed struggle, which later ended disastrously for the Jewish people with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE. He did not choose collaboration with the occupying forces, which was a life of deception and destructive to one’s soul. He did not choose escape into the desert, but sought involvement with the poor and wretched of His time. And while Jesus instructed His followers in prayer, He did not choose religiosity, often used to disguise a lack of faith. He chose a different way.

Perhaps Jesus looked back at His tradition of faith. The exile, several hundred years earlier, did not end the suffering and misery of His people. The strong empires of Assyria, Babylon, and Persia had been replaced by even greater Greek and Roman empires. The people still longed for liberation. Such a passion for freedom seems natural. People talked about their religious tradition that referred to the coming of a messiah who would provide redemption and liberation. The fervour for the coming of such a person must be understood against the conditions of their miserable existence. Jesus surely must have been aware of the many so-called messiahs who had come and gone and yet no liberation had been achieved.”

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

This is really just a taste, and if you are trying to get your head around the severely complicated context of everything happening in that area of the Middle East, this is a book worth checking out.

blood brothers

This is a much longer extract from the book ‘Blood Brothers’ by Elias Chacour, which i do encourage everyone to read. Both as a glimpse into the Israel/Palestine history and situation, but also as a much deeper journey of faith and wrestling with ideas of God and kingdom.

This passage it helps to have read the rest of the book to understand the full story of, but a brief background is that Abu Mouhib is the policeman in the town, that the author is the new church leader in, and has a completely messed up with his three brothers and has for years. He also is not a big fan of the author.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

When I finally reached the home of Abu Mouhib, where the woman had been residing, I was shaking visibly. He hesitated a moment before allowing me to enter. He disliked me, I knew, though he did come to church on rare occasions. This was not the time to express personal dislikes, however, and he showed me to his mother’s sickroom.

Far into the dark morning hours, I sat with the dying woman, whispering a few timid words of comfort. Those years in seminary had failed to prepare me for this. In my sweating palm lay her tremulous, blue-veined hand. It was cold and curled up like an alabaster leaf. Her breathing came in rasps for an hour or so—and then it ceased. With icy fingers, I closed her eyes.

My legs were rubber when I told Abu Mouhib that his mother was dead. Trying the best I could to comfort, I offered to go and tell his three brothers. “They would like to come and see her, I’m sure.”

Abu Mouhib’s grieving features stiffened into a scowl. “No!”he shouted. “My brothers do not set foot in my house. If they dare to come here, you will have five funerals on your hands, because we will kill each other.”

A chill shook me. Even the death of their mother would not draw these brothers together. As I helped wrap the woman’s frail body, I grieved for her—for her sons, and for the whole village.

A gray, faint light lit the streets as I made my way back home. A deadening exhaustion stooped my shoulders. I wanted only to crawl into my Volkswagen and sleep for hours and hours. As I squeezed myself into the backseat, however, I felt a real ache of grief in my chest—grief and anger. Sleep would not come.

I lay there wrestling against the whole world of conflict that sprawled around me. In my head, I lunged at the four brothers in an angry conversation, telling them how disgusted I was at their behavior. Couldn’t they forgive each other now when they needed to honor their own mother?

And they were not the only ones I attacked. The image of the Responsible smirked at me in the half-light, and I flung hard words in his face. I railed at the priest who had stolen from the church; at fellow seminarians who had slandered all Palestinians, calling us “terrorists”; at seminary professors; at the principal who had punished me at the school in Nazareth.

Another image appeared vividly . . . a military policeman towering over a small boy, whipping him with a stick . . . I heard cries . . . my own voice . . . I was picking up a stick, beating, smashing the man’s head until he fell unconscious . . . bleeding. . . . There were tanks on the hills of Biram . . . explosions . . . our homes stood fast while the tanks blew apart . . . and the agonized bodies of soldiers. . . .

Then I knew.

Silent, still, I lay there, aware for the first time that I was capable of vicious, killing hatred. Aware that all men everywhere—despite the thin, polite veneer of society—are capable of hideous violence against other men. Not just the Nazis or the Zionists or the Palestinian commandos—but me. I had covered my hurts with Christian responses, but inside the anger had gnawed. With this sudden, startling view of myself, a familiar inner voice spoke firmly, without compromise: If you hate your brother, you are guilty of murder. Now I understood.

I was aware of other words being spoken. A Man was dying a hideous death at the hands of His captors—a Man of Peace, who suffered unjustly—hung on a cross. Father, forgive them, I repeated. And forgive me, too.

In that moment, forgiveness closed the long-open gap of anger and bitterness inside me. From the time I had been beaten as a small boy, I had denied the violence inside me. Now . . . the taming hand that had taught me compassion on the border of West Germany had finally stilled me enough to see the deep hatred in my own soul.

Physically and emotionally spent, I fell asleep. Later that morning, I woke with a new, clean feeling of calmness. The change that had begun on my visit to the Mount of Beatitudes was complete.

I knew what I must do in Ibillin.

My year and a half of home visits and the sisters’months of ministrations had made a dent—a small dent—in reuniting the believers of Ibillin. Few attended the church regularly, and walls of hostile silence remained firm. However, most of them would not think of missing services during the Christmas and Easter seasons, coming to be comforted by familiar customs, not out of desire for true spiritual renewal. True to the pattern, attendance increased markedly on the first Sunday of Lent, growing each week as Easter approached.

On Palm Sunday, every bench was packed. Nearly the entire congregation had come, plus a few other villagers whom I had invited. The weather that morning was balmy, with a warm, light wind straying through the streets, so I left the doors wide open, hoping that passersby might be attracted by our singing. When I stood up, raising my hands to signal the start of the service, I was jolted by stark, staring faces.

Looks of open hostility greeted me. The Responsible’s faction was clustered on one side of the church, almost challenging me with their icy glares. Indifferently, those whom the Responsible had ostracized sat on the opposite side. I was amazed to see Abu Mouhib, the policeman, perched in the very front row with his wife and children. In each of the other three quadrants of the church, as distant from one another as possible, were his three brothers. The sisters, I could tell, felt the tension, too, for their faces were blanched. I rose and began the first hymn, certain that no one would be attracted by our pathetically dismal singing. I thought, with sadness, of the battle lines that were drawn across the aisles of that sanctuary. And nervously, I hoped that no one would notice the odd lump in the pocket beneath my vestment.

What followed was undoubtedly the stiffest service, the most unimpassioned sermon of my life. The congregation endured me indifferently, fulfilling their holiday obligation to warm the benches. But then, they did not suspect what was coming. At the close of the liturgy, everyone rose for the benediction. I lifted my hand, my stomach fluttering, and paused. It was now or never.

Swiftly, I dropped my hand and strode toward the open doors at the back of the church. Every eye followed me with curiosity. I drew shut the huge double doors, which workmen had rehung for me. From my pocket, I pulled a thick chain, laced it through the handles and fastened it firmly with a padlock.

Returning to the front, I could almost feel the temperature rising. Or was it just me? Turning to face the congregation, I took a deep breath.

“Sitting in this building does not make you a Christian,”I began awkwardly. My voice seemed to echo too loudly in the shocked silence. The sisters’eyes were shut, their lips moving furiously in prayer. “

You are a people divided. You argue and hate each other—gossip and spread malicious lies. What do the Moslems and the unbelievers think when they see you? Surely that your religion is false. If you can’t love your brother that you see, how can you say you love God who is invisible? You have allowed the body of Christ to be disgraced.”

Now the shock had turned to anger. The Responsible trembled and seemed as though he was about to choke. Abu Mouhib tapped his foot angrily and turned red around the collar. In his eyes, though, I thought I detected something besides anger.

Plunging ahead, my voice rose. “For many months, I’ve tried to unite you. I’ve failed, because I’m only a man. But there is someone else who can bring you together in true unity. His name is Jesus Christ. He is the one who gives you power to forgive. So now I will be quiet and allow Him to give you that power. If you will not forgive, we will stay locked in here. You can kill each other and I’ll provide your funerals gratis.”

Silence hung. Tight-lipped, fists clenched, everyone glared at me as if carved from stone. I waited. With agonizing slowness, the minutes passed. Three minutes . . . five . . . ten . . . I could hear, outside, a boy coaxing his donkey up the street and the slow clop-clop of its hooves. Still no one flinched. My breathing had become shallow, and I swallowed hard. Surely I’ve finished everything, I chastised myself, undone all these months of hard work with my – Then a sudden movement caught my eye.

Someone was standing. Abu Mouhib rose and faced the congregation, his head bowed, remorse shining in his eyes. With his first words, I could scarcely believe that this was the same hard-bitten policeman who had treated me so brusquely.

“I am sorry,” he faltered. All eyes were on him. “I am the worst one of all. I’ve hated my own brothers. Hated them so much I wanted to kill them. More than any of you, I need forgiveness.”

And then he turned to me. “Can you forgive me, too, Abuna?”

I was amazed! Abuna means “our father,” a term of affection and respect. I had been called other things since arriving in Ibillin, but nothing so warm.

“Come here,” I replied, motioning him to my side. He came, and we greeted each other with the kiss of peace. “Of course I forgive you,” I said. “Now go and greet your brothers.”

Before he was halfway down the aisle, his three brothers had rushed to him. They held each other in a long embrace, each one asking forgiveness of the others.

In an instant, the church was a chaos of embracing and repentance. Cousins who had not spoken to each other in years wept together openly. Women asked forgiveness for malicious gossip. Men confessed to passing damaging lies about each other. People who had ignored the sisters and me in the streets now begged us to come to their homes. Only the Responsible stood quietly apart, accepting only stiffly my embrace. This second church service— a liturgy of love and reconciliation—went on for nearly a full hour.

In the midst of these joyful reunions, I recalled Father’s words when he had told us why we must receive the Jews from Europe into our home. And loudly, I announced: “We’re not going to wait until next week to celebrate the Resurrection. Let’s celebrate it now. We were dead to each other. Now we are alive again.”

I began to sing. This time our voices joined as one, the words binding us together in a song of triumph: “Christ is risen from the dead. By His death He has trampled death and given life to those in the tomb.”

Even then it did not end. The momentum carried us out of the church and into the streets where true Christianity belongs. For the rest of the day and far into the evening, I joined groups of believers as they went from house to house throughout Ibillin. At every door, someone had to ask forgiveness for a certain wrong. Never was forgiveness withheld. Now I knew that inner peace could be passed from man to man and woman to woman.

As I watched, I recalled, too, an image that had come to me as a young boy in Haifa. Before my eyes, I was seeing a ruined church rebuilt at last— not with mortar and rock, but with living stones.

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[Chapter 10, Tough Miracles]

[For more from Blood Brothers, click here]

blood brothers

This short extract from ‘Blood Brothers: The Dramatic Story of a Palestinian Christian Working for Peace in Israel’ really jumped out at me and i think speaks for itself:

It was during our final spring days at Saint Sulpice that my kindly mentor, Father Longère, touched a deeply resonant note, like a voice out of eternity. I had come to value his wisdom, his remarkable way of challenging us, spurring us to deeper thought on any subject in which we were certain of our opinion. During one of his final lectures, I found myself riveted to his words. “If there is a problem somewhere,” he said with his dry chuckle, “this is what happens. Three people will try to do something concrete to settle the issue. Ten people will give a lecture analyzing what the three are doing. One hundred people will commend or condemn the ten for their lecture. One thousand people will argue about the problem. And one person—only one— will involve himself so deeply in the true solution that he is too busy to listen to any of it.”“Now,” he asked gently, his penetrating eyes meeting each of ours in turn, “which person are you?”

[Chapter 8, Seeds of Hope]

Race and reconciliation issues in South Africa. The Black Lives Matter movement in the United States. Education. Poverty. Treatment of Refugees. And so much more…

We can’t all possibly solve, or even make dents in, every one of those areas. But we can choose one. And be the one person.

For me at the moment, one of those issues that i feel strongly about and am trying to figure out how to be so deeply involved in the true solution that i am too busy to listen to any of it, is race and reconciliation in South Africa.

Which person are you? [i would honestly love to hear from you and hear you identify the issue you feel most strongest about and if you’re currently doing something about it or have a deep heart and desire to do so, please leave your mark in the comments section]

[For the Intro and links to other extracts from the book, click here]

blood brothers

i just finished reading this incredible book that was recommended to me by my good friend, Steve Graybill, who has travelled to Israel on multiple occasions and i feel has a fairly good idea of what goes on over there.

i was challenged on my blog a few months ago about not knowing what was going on with the whole Israeli/Palestinian conflict and it was totally true. It’s one of those things, as when i was growing up was the Irish Catholic vs Protestant conflict where you completely know it’s a thing and you feel like you know what’s going on but in reality actually don’t know much about it at all.

Realising that about Israel, i asked Steve for some help. Apart from sharing some thoughts on the conversation at hand, he recommended two books to me: The Lemon Tree, by Sandy Tolan and Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour and David Hazard.

lemon

i instantly bought both of them for my Kindle app on my tablet where they lived for a number of months as i was busy with a whole lot of other books.

i read ‘The Lemon Tree’ a while back and really enjoyed it and found it helpful and somewhat educational. The main focus of the book is the story of the relationship between a Palestinian young man and an Israeli woman who at different times, live in the same house which is categorised by the lemon tree which grows in the back garden:

In 1967, Bashir Al-Khayri, a Palestinian twenty-five-year-old, journeyed to Israel, with the goal of seeing the beloved old stone house, with the lemon tree behind it, that he and his family had fled nineteen years earlier. To his surprise, when he found the house he was greeted by Dalia Ashkenazi Landau, a nineteen-year-old Israeli college student, whose family fled Europe for Israel following the Holocaust. On the stoop of their shared home, Dalia and Bashir began a rare friendship, forged in the aftermath of war and tested over the next thirty-five years in ways that neither could imagine on that summer day in 1967. Based on extensive research, and springing from his enormously resonant documentary that aired on NPR’s Fresh Air in 1998, Sandy Tolan brings the Israeli-Palestinian conflict down to its most human level, suggesting that even amid the bleakest political realities there exist stories of hope and reconciliation.

Blood Brothers on the other hand is told through the eyes and experience of Elias Chacour, from when he was a young boy forced out of the village he grew up in, to his life as a priest working for peace and unity:

Elias Chacour grew up in a small Palestinian village in Galilee. When tens of thousands of Palestinians were killed and nearly one million forced into refugee camps in 1948, Chacour began a long struggle with how to live out his personal spirituality. In Blood Brothers, he blends his riveting life story with historical and biblical research to reveal a little-known side of the Arab-Israeli conflict, touching on questions such as:

•What touched off the turmoil in the Middle East?
•What does Bible prophecy really have to say?
•Can bitter enemies ever be reconciled?

They are both stories and so who knows the absolute extent of the Truth to be found in them. But i found them both to be helpful and enjoyable reads as they both explore the story and situation from both sides [as opposed to being a heavily biased one-sided affair] and for that reason alone it seems to give a decent amount of credibility and at least give you some understanding of the overall picture.

i enjoyed them both, but Blood Brothers, whose subtitle is, ‘The Dramatic Story of a Palestinian Christian working for peace in Israel’ i think i liked the most. It was a story of highs and lows, that demonstrated hope and moments of victory in the face of complete chaos and bewilderment and also showed glimpses of the possibility of peace between two nations in the midst of the most complicated of stories.

i would highly recommend both of them as a way of starting to educate yourself in what must be one of the most significant international conflicts of our time. i will be sharing a few brief passages from Blood Brothers, over the next few days, which i found extremely significant , so give yourself a taste.

Extract from Blood Brothers: Which Person are You?

What are YOU reading that you would highly recommend at the moment? My big unending pile of books is making its way towards completion… 

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