The Working Group on the Middle East is encouraging Metropolitan Chicago Synod congregations as they do their education and faith formation planning for 2014-15 to include at least one book study about the Middle East.
There is a tremendous array of materials to choose from. Below are four representative possibilities.
We will be gathering information about what various congregations are planning, and sharing that information via this website, to encourage resource-sharing and networking.
If you have information about your plans, or would like assistance, please email Joe Scarry - jtscarry [at] yahoo.com
Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible Through Palestinian Eyes - "In this concise work that blends both academic and pastoral understandings, Raheb shows how the history of Palestine, ancient and modern, is one of diverse and unique contexts and yet recurring patterns. Raheb spells out Jesus' gospel in relation to the Roman empire of his time, and the biblical values relevant for the Middle East—then and now. This approach sheds a new light on the biblical texts within the context of imperial domination, and it introduces a new perspective and culture for a 'New Middle East.' . . . Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb is the President of Bright Stars of Bethlehem, President of Dar al-Kalima University College in Bethlehem, and President of the Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. He is also the Senior Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, Palestine. He is the author of several books including I Am a Palestinian Christian and Bethlehem Besieged."
This book was the subject by a book group sponsored by several Evanston and Wilmette congregations in the past few months. One of our WGME members was a part of the book group and recommends the book highly.
Watch Mitri Raheb discuss Faith in the Face of Empire on Youtube.
Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide - "What role have Zionism and Christian Zionism played in shaping attitudes and driving historical developments in the Middle East and around the world? How do Christians, Jews, and Muslims understand the competing claims to the land of Palestine and Israel? What steps can be taken to bring peace, reconciliation, and justice to the homeland that Palestinians and Israelis share? . . . Zionism Unsettled embraces these critical issues fearlessly and with inspiring scope. The booklet and companion DVD draw together compelling and diverse viewpoints from Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Israel, Palestine, the US, and around the globe. By contrasting mainstream perceptions with important alternative perspectives frequently ignored in the media, Zionism Unsettled is an invaluable guide to deeper understanding."
Zionism Unsettled raises difficult issues and has resulted in controversy. See, for instance, "Presbyterians remove controversial ‘Zionism Unsettled’ from denomination’s website".
Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi's Path to Palestinian Solidarity - "In 2006 Rabbi Brant Rosen, who serves a Jewish Reconstructionist congregation in Evanston, Illinois, launched a blog called Shalom Rav, in which he explored a broad range of social-justice issues. The focus of his writing-and his activism-changed dramatically in December 2008, when Israel launched a wide, 23-day military attack against Gaza, causing him to deeply question his lifelong liberal Zionism. Unlike the biblical Jacob, who wrestled in the dark of night at a crucial turning point in his life, Rabbi Rosen chose to make his struggle public: to wrestle in the daylight. Over the two years that followed, Shalom Rav became a public and always highly readable record of his journey from liberal Zionist to active and visionary Palestinian solidarity activist. Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi's Path to Palestinian Solidarity is Rosen's self-curated compilation of these blog posts. . . . In his Preface, Rabbi Rosen writes, 'I've come to believe that too many of us have been wrestling in the dark on this issue for far too long. I believe we simply must find a way to widen the limits of public discourse on Israel/Palestine, no matter how painful the prospect. It is my fervent hope that the conversations presented here might represent, in their small way, a step toward the light of day.'"
Read about the book event with Rabbi Rosen sponsored by WGME in February, 2014. (Great video!)
The Girl Who Stole My Holocaust - a "deeply moving memoir of Chayut’s journey from eager Zionist conscript on the front line of Operation Defensive Shield to leading campaigner against the Israeli occupation. As he attempts to make sense of his own life as well as his place within the wider conflict around him, he slowly starts to question his soldier’s calling, Israel’s justifications for invasion, and the ever-present problem of historical victimhood."
Read the review by Jimmy Johnson on Mondoweiss.