Eliza Griswold Discusses The Tenth Parallel


At our November 30th BookTalkUNA event, Eliza Griswold spoke to UNA-NY members about her recently published book, The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam. For several years, Ms. Griswold travelled through countries including Nigeria, Somalia, Indonesia, and Malaysia that are in between the equator and the tenth parallel, "the horizontal band that rings the earth several hundred miles north of the equator."

She read from the prologue of her book, highlighting that nearly a quarter of the world's 493 million Christians live south of the tenth parallel, while to the north live nearly a quarter of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims. She also emphasized that about 80% of the world's Muslims live outside of the Middle East.

Her research began in 2003 when she travelled with Franklin Graham, evangelical preacher and son of Billy Graham, to meet with Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. In this experience, she saw the inextricable link between faith and foreign policy.

"I was in no position to assess anyone's relationship to his or her God. The best I could do is bring back their stories, their subjectivities," Ms. Griswold said.

Among some of the stories she shared was one which involved the highly contested Sudanese oil town of Abyei. Here the struggles, over resources including oil and land, became linked to religion, as the north is predominantly Muslim and the south consists mostly of Christians and others who practice indigenous religions.

While there is much focus today on clashes between different religions, Ms. Griswold argued that the more substantial struggles occur within both Christianity and Islam, as both religions are in decades-long, conservative-leaning revivals.

Visit the website of Eliza Griswold


reportage: Thomael M. Joannidis