Thursday, April 3, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

Some time ago, the minister at our church gave a sermon on the book Three Cups of Tea. Having just finished the book, I can see now why proselytizing is the byproduct of having read this text. It is like you want to stand on the rooftops and shout AMEN! but you are in such awe of this man's story that you almost shake your head at it all. It is funny that our minister chose to proclaim this book to the heavens though, because ours is not a proselytizing tradtion. Who are we in the West to say our way of praying is better than yours? In my mind, I can't draw the line between religious conversion and imperialism. Social action? Sure. Humanitarian aid work? Yes, but not in the name of trying to make you assimulate. And that is part of the lesson in this gem of a book. It defies labels and has had mass appeal among people of all religions, ethnicities, stances on war, politics, age, and gender. It demonstrates that one person can make a world of difference by fighting ignorance with education and tolerance. How often can one story do all that?

Here's the gist...

Mountain climber gets lost. In his weakened state he stumbles into a remote village of Pakistan. They welcome him in and give him sustanance. He, in return, promises to give them what they need most--a school. He comes back to America and tries to raise funds. Sleeps in his car to save money...

The story continues with an amazing account of Greg Mortenson's mission to promote peace by providing balanced, secular (and therefore non-extremeist) education, particularly for women, in poor communities in Pakistan and post-Taliban Afghanistan. (This man will win the Nobel Peace Prize someday.) I have recently finished reading A Thousand Splendid Suns and found this to be a wonderful companion piece. One is fiction and one is truth, but they both offer insight into the lives of people in the volitile regions of the world. The politics. The religion. The lives of women.

Anybody with an ounce of humanity should read this book. I do not know one person who would not be touched by this. My only question is To whom should I lend out my copy first?

About the book

About Greg's organization, CAI

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