Not only am I an author, I am also an avid reader. It is my hope to offer periodic book reviews to give you a glimpse at my bookshelf, and hopefully encourage you to pick up a good book. Most of what I read is from a Christian worldview, although I do read some secular books from time to time.
In the Land of Blue Burqas
Author – Kate McCord
Published 2012 by Moody Publishers
I read this book in paperback format. This was a selection for the Ladies Book Club at my church (for which I am a discussion moderator).
In the Land of Blue Burqas is a fascinating look into the lives of the people of rural Afghanistan. Kate McCord is a protective pseudonym for the author. During her five years in Afghanistan she lived in nearly constant fear of kidnapping. Although a Christian, she did not go to Afghanistan to win converts to Christianity, she went to work for the people of the country and to be the arms and feet of Jesus in a deeply hurting country.
Kate worked hard to learn the language and earn the trust of the women in her community. In return she was given a rare glimpse into the lives of Afghan women which she shares with her readers in a gentle and compassionate way. As a westerner I can tell you that I came away with a new appreciation for my freedoms as a woman, and for all the amenities we enjoy!
I was very taken with a view of a culture I know very little about. On the very first page she says, “The rules in Afghanistan are clear, and all must follow them.” To break a rule is to put oneself in danger. Kate explains in a very understandable way how culture and religion are one in Afghanistan and how the Holy Quran and Hadith govern every aspect of Afghan life. In Afghanistan, the community has the right to judge you and inflict punishment for any perceived wrongdoing.
Oftentimes when she was sharing meals with women or their families, questions would arise about her life in America. I was so impressed with how she handled the differences between American and Afghan culture, never putting one above the other, never comparing their lives with how things are done in the west and making one seem better than the other. She shows the reader how our culture, religion and worldview frame our thinking and the way we view and process events, both personally and globally.
She describes several different incidents where she had the chance to compare and contrast her beliefs with those of her hosts, such as in Chapter 4 – Facing Hatred – where she ended up in a very tense discussion with a student of Sharia law about Israel and the Jews. Also in Chapter 11 – Understanding the Journey – she gives a fascinating look into the difference between converting to Christianity versus converting to Islam.
The book was a bit slow in places, and some of it was a tad repetitive, but overall her care and compassion for the Afghan people shine through. After five years, Kate’s ministry in Afghanistan would end abruptly when security in her area disintegrated. Thankfully she was able to return safely to America and share her experiences with us.
There are many reasons for reading; enjoyment, escape, information, education. In the Land of Blue Burqas was definitely informative and educational, and I enjoyed my glimpse into a culture I knew very little about. If you have read In the Land of Blue Burqas, please share your opinion and insight with me. I would love to hear your thoughts!