Becoming an Extremist for Love: A Review of "Making Friends among the Taliban"

What he was doing, of course, was living out his Christian faith in the way we are always told we ought to, loving strangers and even our so-called enemies with all the fierce compassion of Christ himself. (And anyway, who can we call strangers and enemies? Ultimately, no one. Augustine wrote in his Letter 130, that we are all related, that we are called to offer friendship to every human child of God, including our enemies, for whom we are bidden to pray.)

Surely we can learn a lesson from Dan Terry and the Taliban. Let's call it The Parable of the Enemies. If Dan Terry could devote his life to serving, loving, and communing with our so-called enemies, Muslims who are diametrically opposed to us in almost every measure, then what is the excuse we make for not serving, loving, and communing with those Christians we consider diametrically opposed to us?

Making Friends among the Taliban should shame us in the same way Dan shamed the locals, for it reveals that at times our Taliban foes can be more Christian than we Christians in connecting to others. But a catalyst for that transformation was certainly the powerful life and message of Dan Terry, who sought relationship and friendship, who recognized that even in their differences, he and his Muslim friends had much in common, and whose humility and humor allowed him to make connections in a land more dangerous and divided than ours will ever be.

I still have much to learn from the Parable of the Enemies, but Dan's story reminds me of the most important part:

Above all, clothe yourself in love.

Visit the Patheos Book Club for more conversation on, and to read an excerpt from the new memoir, Making Friends among the Taliban: A Peacemaker's Journey in Afghanistan.

11/1/2012 4:00:00 AM
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  • Greg Garrett
    About Alonzo L. Gaskill
    Alonzo L. Gaskill is an author, editor, theologian, lecturer, and professor of World Religions. He holds degrees in philosophy, theology, and biblical studies. He has authored more than two-dozen books and numerous articles on various aspects of religion; with topics ranging from world religions and interfaith dialogue, to scriptural commentaries, texts on symbolism, sacred space, and ritual, and even devotional literature.