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Book Reviews

Françoise Pichon, Viaggio fra i Cristiani d’Oriente [Journey among Eastern Christians]

Françoise Pichon, Viaggio fra i Cristiani d’Oriente [Journey among Eastern Christians], Lindau, Torino 2008

A trip by car from the Middle East to Europe, setting off from Beirut through Syria, Turkey and Greece, with wife and two young children, is all the author needed in order to turn a travel diary into a tale about the daily life of the fragmented Christian communities who inhabit these Eastern Mediterranean countries. But there was nothing fortuitous about; the young researcher in Religious Studies set out intentionally to discover them.

 

 

In a series of unique encounters with priests, monks, lay people and nuns the author takes a number of snapshots that describe page after page the largely unknown existence of the tiny Christian communities of the East.

 

 

The overall picture that emerges is one in which Christians, always cognizant of their important role in the region, are also clearly confronted by struggles every day even in the most ordinary of situations or in the most different of contexts, whether in unstable but pluralistic Lebanon; in Syria, a country respectful of its Christians but largely indifferent to their continuous exodus to the West; or Turkey, secular but often hostile to the heirs of Saint Paul . . . .

 

 

Although some passages appear somewhat naïve, in the end the book is a useful tool for anyone who wants to learn about the realities of the Middle East and see inside the network of relationships that link its various communities, usually far from the media spotlight.

 

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