Holy Lands: One Place Three Faiths, by the editors of LIFE

My Copy: 092567100750 (image from goodreads.com)

I would consider this a useful basic guide, full of the good photos that LIFE magazine’s been known for. Anybody who wants the very-condensed “for dummies” version of how the three major religions got their start and how they’re all mixed together in the holy lands should at least take a look at this 128 page work.

I do also appreciate how the authors give a brief overview of the complexity of the situation for those living in the traditional holy lands of the Middle East, and the diminishing influence of Christianity (painfully highlighted–for some–when Pope John Paul II went there in 2000).

I had to keep in mind that this special publication was made shortly after 9/11, and wonder if it was meant as a crash course for those who probably hadn’t heard of Islam until that tragic event happened. I remember being largely ignorant about Islam other than what came up in geography class in high school on “world religions” week, or whatever it was.

Well, this publication was a good starting place on my education. I think today’s world proves we can’t stay ignorant, even if we wanted to–which I didn’t.

Some of the stories outside the history and theology are quite sad, and others a bittersweet mix as faiths mingle thanks to events. Strange and uplifting in turns.

I recommend this short text for teachers or anyone who wants to approach the subject with younger people or more sensitive people. There are some photos of violence and others of daily life that would look startling to American eyes.

This was a “special” publication, however, so the odds of you getting it anywhere but e-bay or another swap site are probably nil. Still, if it’s in your local library or used bookstore, thumb through it and see what you think. Won’t take long and is a good resource for our quick-read times.

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