A Review of
Christian de Chergé: A Theology of Hope.
Paperback: Cistercian Publications, 2012.
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Reviewed by Richard Goode.
Interfaith dialogue can occasionally feel like a chess match. Participants may be civil enough toward one another, yet an underlying quest is to work rivals into such untenable positions that the adversary must capitulate and concede the contest. For one side to win, the other must lose. In this volume Christian Salenson delineates Fr. Christian de Chergé’s far more robust model for interfaith dialogue.
The 2010 award-winning film, “Of God’s and Men,” popularized the plight of de Chergé, prior of Our Lady of Atlas, shepherding his small Cistercian band as they wrestled with their vow of stability. Should they pray and work in Algeria, long wracked by civil war and sectarian violence? Would they remain in Tibhirine, serve their Muslim neighbors and tempt martyrdom, or was God calling them—via the Algerian government and the Armed Islamic Group (GIA)—to relocate to a more secure environment? For all the film’s strengths, it is Salenson’s book that reveals de Chergé’s creative, promising theology for interfaith dialogue.