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Bruce Feiler: Where God Was Born


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This is the guy that wrote "Walking the Bible" and has the tv show on PBS which I show once.

This book is well worth reading. Feiler goes to what are now some of the most dangerous parts of the

world Iraq, Palestine, Iran (where he faced few dangers btw), etc. A typical line would be something like,

"It isn't recommended that we go there" to which he'll respond "When do we start?"


The idea is not that God was created somehow, but the idea of a monotheistic God started in these places.

Our God is a desert God, as he has said on some occasions. Living in the desert, I found this an interesting idea. I don't think it is in this book though.


He has a mission or compulsion to walk where the great histories of the Hebrew Bible were written (and also parts of the New Testament), and thru geography figure some of the stories out. He gives a very good feel

to some of the stories, some great background (I most particularly enjoyed reading about Babylon aka Iraq and also Zooastrianism). He also tells some good current stories (I think he is at heart a storyteller)-- about

current life in Iran or in a Christian church in Israel where you can hear artillery fire pretty much constantly.


The book has its weakness. Every few pages is, "We pulled out our Bibles". This gets pretty tiresome. Finally he tells why-- he wants to read the scriptures where the stories happened. I would have found the line less tiresome (it is a standard unvarying statement), if I had known this earlier perhaps. I also tired fo the wordy descriptions of people. I couldn't really picture them mostly anyway and don't know that I cared. I also thought a map (a map is included but not where they are when and so on) would have been great-- and made reading it much easier. I sometiems tired of his little sermons while other times I liked them.


His belief is that (moderate or progressive) religious people from all faiths can come together by finding their common roots. So basically only (more moderate) religion can save humanity. He makes a good argument for his case. He also is quite persuasive in finding these common roots. (BTW, he has no problem calling various people in the Bible scoundrels or worse. He has quite an argument about David.)




Edited by des
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I read Feiler's earlier book on Abraham and admired what he was trying to do, find common roots among the three major religions, as you pointed out. He gave some interesting cultural/ historic insights into that part of the old testament. However, when I saw he'd come out with yet another book that defines God in terms of a particular place, it seemed like the wrong direction.


Feiler did make a good point about Jerusalem -- "you can connect with God only if you understand what it means to connect with one another." In other words, the ability to get along together is what defined the place as holy or sacred in the first place. I found idea that refreshing.

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Interesting that you say that. In a sense, Feiler *does* end up saying the same thing. He ends

up saying that Judaism separated from the "land" is a more powerful and real faith than that which

is connected (or attempts to be connected) to the land. God might have *started* as a desert God, but

no way stayed one.


The book makes some historical connections, but doesn't really assume that God is really tied to these

places. I think maybe he goes in thinking God IS connected but goes out "transformed". It is as

much a journey of the mind and heart as it is for transversing dangerous places (though that aspect

is interesting).



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