Writer to speak on Islam, Christianity Nov. 4

For the past seven years, Eliza Griswold has been reporting from the 10th parallel – the geographical line 700 miles north of the equator – interviewing Christians and Muslims, political leaders and ordinary people in Sudan, Nigeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and other countries where Christianity and Islam collide.

Out of her experiences there, Griswold, an award-winning writer who focuses on conflict, human rights and religion, wrote a book titled “The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches From t1he Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam.” She will discuss her book and sign copies at 1:30 p.m., Nov. 4, in the Memorial Union Alumni Lounge at ASU’s Tempe campus.

The free lecture is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict as part of the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Series on Religion and Conflict.

According to a review of “The Tenth Parallel” by journalist Maggie Fick, Griswold “delves into the gray areas of both faiths and explores not only the conflicts between Islam and Christianity but the ways and places in which they coexist.”

Fick said “The Tenth Parallel” follows several themes, such as religion as a substitute for law in such places as Somalia and Sudan, and the difference between early forms of Islam and Christianity and the modern, or “ecstatic” forms of the faiths that exist today.

The “ecstatic’ forms of the faiths: in the case of Islam, are fundamentalism and martyrdom through a global and technologically savvy jihadist network, and in the case of Christianity, evangelicalism and Pentecostalism, Griswold writes in “The Tenth Parallel.”

Fick writes in her review that “Griswold hops between the megachurches on the outskirts of teeming Lagos, to the underground headquarters of Jemaah Islamiyah in a wealthy Jakarta suburb. Here, there, and in between, Griswold finds support for an argument that she makes at the outset: Christianity and Islam are both ‘in the midst of decades-long revolutions – reawakenings – based on effervescent forms of worship.’”

Griswold said during an interview on NPR’s "Fresh Air" that when religious leaders such as Franklin Graham go to Muslim-dominated countries such as Sudan to meet with leaders, they are “seen as representative of what all Americans believe.

"This is especially sensitive in the Muslim world. ... [We see] this kind of defensive posturing of Islam — that Islam is under threat by the West. Unfortunately, a handful of evangelicals can misrepresent what the West is about and make Muslims feel very much under threat."

But Griswold also is hopeful. Fick wrote, “In other words, there is hope that extremism will be contested by the moderates of both faiths. Griswold quotes a Malaysian activist who works for a local NGO protecting women’s legal rights who told her: ‘Moderates can no longer afford to be silent.’”

Griswold’s stories and opinion pieces have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s Magazine, and the New Republic, among other publications.

She graduated from Princeton University in 1995 and studied creative writing at Johns Hopkins University. She won the first Robert I. Friedman Prize in Investigative Journalism in 2004 for "In the Hiding Zone," about Pakistan's Waziristan Agency.

Griswold is a fellow at the New America Foundation and won a 2010 Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

To R.S.V.P. for the lecture, send an e-mail to csrc@asu.edu or call (480) 727-6736.

Visitor parking is available in the Fulton Center or Apache Boulevard parking structures.