What is so captivating about this book? Is it its picturesque language or its well organized content? Is it the fame of Father Elias Chacour or the interesting details of his biography? It seems to me that the book could have straight A?s for its linguistic and literary strengths. Further, no doubt, its author has won many prizes and has been honored by many societies. However, the book?s true power lies somewhere else. It simply lies in truly believing the teachings of Christ and choosing to trust his wisdom. The most fascinating point in the book is this: Chacour follows Jesus and truly believes his teachings.
In his book, Chacour, a Melkite priest, narrates his life story revealing the struggles of a Christian family in a world dominated by selfishness, oppression, and injustice. Surprisingly, his oppressors are those who were themselves oppressed in the Holocaust. They have forcefully stolen his land and inflicted his life with many oppressive painful moments and midday nightmares. However, they have never succeeded in depriving him from the sweet divine fellowship and the God-given peace and vision.
Through out the book, we see several turning points in Chacour?s life. All of them are marked by revealing prayers, divine providence, and grace. First, we hear Chacour?s father responding to the dangers of the attacking Zionist soldiers by saying to God: ?help us to show love to our Jewish brothers. Help us to show them peace to quiet their troubled heart,? (29) and by saying to his children ?Jews and Palestinians are brothers?blood brothers. We share the same father, Abraham, and the same God.? (42). Second, we see his mother choosing to face her nightmare of loosing her husband and sons by serving God. She prays, ?[a]llow us to be Your servants . . . Let our hands be Your hands to comfort the suffering. Let our lips bring the peace of Your spirit? (64). The prayers of his parents defined his vision and shaped his beliefs. Like his mother, he chose not to surrender to abuse and like his father he decided not to turn to violence (79). God has a better plan for Chacour and the uprooted Palestinian people. He has a message of heavenly peace to people living in daily war (107). This message has God, not humanity, at its center (117). But God needed a faithful messenger, one who has gone through the purging trials of the prince of peace.
Several chapters within the book reflect God?s providence in preparing a messenger who does not only proclaim a message but also embodies it with all his mind and heart. Consequently, Chacour had to confront many vexing intellectual questions raised by the Bible and its interpreters. Through the maze of these questions God defined his vision of reconciliation using Chacour?s most cherished holy texts i.e. the beatitudes. The insight was simple yet profound. Chacour says,
Suddenly, I knew that the first step toward reconciling Jew and Palestinian was the restoration of human dignity. Justice and righteousness were what I had been hungering and thirsting for: This was the third choice that ran like a straight path between violent opposition and calcified, passive non-resistance? (153-154).
Chacour is called to be a peacemaker. Thus he has to learn how to deal with furious people, hurting families, denominational disputes, hate crimes, religious arguments, and racial discrimination; yet at the same time protect his soul from these contagious vices. Put differently, he learns how to build bridges where others have constructed thick cement walls. He learns how to face past fears with the hope that ?Jews and Palestinians can get along when they begin to treat each other with dignity,? (188) and that Moslems, Druze, and disputing Christian denominations can together construct a better future.
Last, Chacour in the book?s epilogue, addresses Jews saying: ?the world knows?and you must know?it was a belief that God Himself had created ?a single pure race? that blinded Hitler with power and fueled his hatred, arrogance, and sense of ?divine right.?? He addresses Palestinians saying: ?Do we need to produce more victims, more martyrs and more humiliation in order for the world to wake up and see the truth?? Last, he addresses the whole world saying that ?Blood Brother? is not only a story but is also an invitation to pursue God?s perilous path of peacemaking. (230-231).
In conclusion, although I might differ with Chacour on few theological details or assumptions, I am compelled to highly recommend this book. I am further compelled to accept Chacour?s prophetic words and invitation to build bridges of peace. May the prince of peace continue to raise peacemakers who can follow Jesus as Chacour followed Him!
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