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The Vicar of Bagdad, Fighting for Peace in the Middle East

Reviewed by Rev Dr Marian Zaunbrecher, Associate General Secretary of the Queensland Synod


Never judge a book by its cover.

Expecting a tale of a chaplain attached to an armed forces regiment I presumed The Vicar of Bagdad would be easy night-time reading.

Instead I discovered a challenging and inspiring diary of peace seeking efforts.

Author Andrew White first trained as a surgeon and then became a vicar.

In 1998 he was appointed Director of International Ministry at Coventry Cathedral. During this time he initiated and facilitated much of the work leading to the signing of the First Alexandra Declaration of the Religious Leaders of the Holy Land .

Mr White’s work then led him to negotiations for the release of the more than 200 Palestinians held hostage by the Israeli army in Bethlehem at the Church of the Nativity in 2002.

He then charters his involvement with ‘s political and religious leaders and his involvement with peace movements in during a time of war and invasion by the American and the “Coalition of the Willing”.

Recognising that there can be no peace in without bringing the religious factions together he worked tirelessly for peace.

The US Army detailed its military chaplains to work with him.

In 2007 his work resulted in the first ever fatwa against violence issued jointly by Sunna and Shia.

Believing that godliness matters more than doctrinal correctness, Mr White brings to life the difficulties of peacemaking in our war torn world today.

My main criticism of this book is that Mr White names many different people with whom he has worked. This become very confusing.

The Vicar of Bagdad is an inspiring book for anyone concerned about peace in our time.

It is all the more inspiring when one realises that Andrew White suffers from MS and has often had to flee because of death threats – and not from Al-Qa’ida.

For anyone interested in an informed Christian perspective on the situation in this is compulsory reading.