Friday, January 22, 2010

Book Review: Tea with Hezbollah

Tea With Hezbollah - Sitting At the Enemies Table - Our Journey Through the Middle East by Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis

When I agreed to review this book, I must have been in a hurry that day, because I truly thought I read that this was fiction. I imagined it being similar to The Kite Runner or something like that. When I received the book and thumbed through the pages I quickly realized how mistaken I was. This is a non-fiction book, a travel journal of sorts. It is the story of a 2 week trip through the Middle East involving meetings with high-level leaders of groups and militia that we would consider enemies of our country in every way. Mr. Dekker and Mr. Medearis desired to interview these men and ask them questions that would help their readers "get to know" them on a more personal level. The premise was that if we could see each other as just "people" and not "enemies" perhaps we would find it easier to practice Jesus' greatest command - Love your neighbor as yourself. So he asked questions such as "What makes you laugh?", "What movies to you like?" "What kind of a car do you drive?", "What misconceptions does the Arab world have about America?" and "What misconceptions do Arabs have of Americans?".

Fascinating idea. Fascinating book. Is it possible to obey Jesus' command when it comes to people in the Arab world, people we are told would love to kill us? Is it possible for them to love us in America?

What I thought .....

Mr. Dekker repeatedly states in the book that he was not interested in debating politics or religion. Personally, I don't think he batted 100% on that statement. I felt that he ventured into a bit of unnecessary criticism of America. Some of his statements should have at least been labeled as his own opinion instead of stating them as though they were facts of truth. However, I do believe overall he tried to be honest and I do believe that his quest was a genuine endeavor.

The book contains the actual transcripts of questions and answers with the people he interviewed. People such as Osama Bin Laden's brothers. Mufti's. Arab leaders in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Beruit, Damascus and Jerusalem. Some of these people have been targeted by our government as well as others to kill. How they were able to gain access is incredible and I wondered if the questions had been previewed or not. I suspect they may have been - but that's just my opinion.

The book was an easy read and hard to put down. It made me think about things that made me uncomfortable. It stretched my thinking. One thing in particular I learned was that the term "Christian" doesn't mean the same thing to all people as it does to me. In fact, all people in the eastern world view everyone in the west as Christians. The name of Christ has been distorted and stretched into something very unrecognizable to the people I know who bear His name.

Mr. Dekker never pointed out that although the religion of Islam accepts and reveres Jesus as a great prophet - they don't accept Him as the Son of God. In fact, the biggest problem the religion of Islam has with Christianity is that we believe that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are three in one. They are very offended by this and believe that we are polytheistic - the biggest offense there could be in their opinion. This matters a great deal in their conception of us and while they are okay with us promoting Jesus, they cannot accept that we worship Him - because they see Him as a totally separate "God". Perhaps making more of an effort to help them understand the Trinity could help in them understanding we do not worship more than one God.

I have always believed that the century's old struggle over a piece of land no bigger than the state of Rhode Island has much more to do with spiritual warfare than it has to do with the never ending fight between the people who inhabit the earth. This is bigger than anything humanity is capable of solving. This is more than we can comprehend. The spiritual battle is not going to be resolved until the day the trumpet sounds. I don't think we can really expect the physical battle to stop before then either.

Did Jesus give the world an impossible teaching? I don't think so. We are human, so we will never do it perfectly. But I believe this command was given to individuals, not governments. The parable of the Good Samaritan was shared to help us as individuals - to teach us how to behave, how to live. By following Jesus' teaching we will become more Christlike and through that our governments will improve - but governments will never be completely made up of followers of Christ. I don't believe governments will ever be able to live in perfect peace - Jesus said the same thing. I was thankful that Mr. Dekker declared he was not a pacifist and he was not promoting pacifism. I believe in "Peace through strength" and I appreciate our country's strong military. It is necessary to keep us safe.

In conclusion, I started reading this book certain I would not like it. I am proud of my country and proud to be an American and I felt this book was going to bash America - which is so popular these days. I ended up feeling glad that I read it. As I said earlier, it stretched my thinking and gave me new ideas to consider. I am begging my husband to read it so we can discuss it. This is the kind of book that needs to be discussed.

Would you like to read this book? Waterbrook Multnomah sent me an extra copy to give away on my blog. Leave a comment telling me what middle eastern country, if any, you would like to visit. I will leave this contest open until this Friday the 29th at noon. And then I will draw a name to find a winner.

If you would like to purchase a copy you may go here, here or here.

This book was provided for review by the Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group.


Willow said...

Hi Robin, I can't limit my desire to visit ONE Middle Eastern country! Turkey! Iraq (to see Babylon and the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers)! Israel! Lebanon!

If I win this book, I'll read it and pass it on to my youngest daughter who shared Kite Runner, Three Cups of Tea and Beer in the Snooker Club with me.


Bev said...

It'd be Turkey - we have a family at our church from there - sounds fascinating. Iran, Iraq - a little scary for me!

Dawn said...

Sounds like a fascinating book. You hit the nail on the head when you said it is a spiritual warfare and has very little to do with human politics!

Anonymous said...

I suppose the United Arab Emirates would be pretty cool to go would Turkey. I guess Turkey....I hear you can get a really good cup of coffee.

Lisa Bakke

Karen said...

If I had the courage, Iraq or Afghanistan. Because members of my family have served there and I would like to be able to see those countries as they have seen them, not just on the news.

I wouldn't mind being entered in the drawing for this book. It sounds like it would make for a good discussion for my book club.

BTW, I have a book drawing going on at my place, too:)