An Appeal to the Center

A Land Full of God: Christian Perspectives on the Holy Land, edited by Mae Elise Cannon. Wipf & Stock.

IMAGINE A gathering of thoughtful American Christians, of diverse backgrounds—from Greek Orthodox to Pentecostal—and each with some experience of the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. If you could record their conversations, it might be the beginning of the book that is here before us.

A Land Full of God is an essay collection compiled by Mae Elise Cannon, executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace, to show a range of opinions about the Israel-Palestine conflict in the American church. The writers share a general understanding that peacemaking is the only way forward. Some admit they are exhausted by this conflict. Many express despair over the extremist voices that seem to push the U.S. church around. And a few have suggestions for what might make a difference.

In one of the book’s liveliest essays, Paul Alexander sums up key points: 1) Israel must end its military occupation of the Palestinians and be less violent. 2) Palestinians need to recognize the state of Israel and stop vilifying Jews. 3) Christians need to give a rest to appeals to eschatology in this entire mess. Alexander sounds exasperated and pragmatic, feelings many of us share.

If you’ve had much contact with this topic, it is impossible to read such a book with any neutrality.

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