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Happy Birthday to Pillars
and happy birthday to me!
Today is the one-year anniversary of Pillars being out in the world!
It is also my birthday and the best best best birthday present would be if you went out and got your own copy of Pillars!
A year ago Barbara Brown Taylor and Abdi Nor Iftin and I were having a live conversation on YouTube. I had to wake up at 3:00 a.m. to get the time right. Did I tell you that I slept at our school instead of at home? The school has a generator and our house doesn’t and I was terrified the power would cut out. I laid out a foam mat on the floor and set about six alarms and then barely slept, I was too excited.
Barbara and Abdi both had actual copies of the book but I didn’t have one yet. It took about another month to get here and I kept hearing from readers that it was a lovely cover. It is, my publisher, Plough, does a wonderful job with the physical product.
And then, it was off to the races, or more accurately, to the podcasts and zoom events and Instagram Lives and email correspondence, all of it online because of Covid. You can find the links to these here, in case you missed them.
Thank you to everyone who has read and engaged with the story in Pillars. Thank you for sharing your responses to the book, for asking great questions, for launching from my story into your own story through forging new friendships across religious boundaries, less afraid and less divided.
I’ve seen it on shelves and in hands around the world, from the bookshelf of the local leading Imam here to tucked into a beach basket in Minnesota. I was honored to give a copy to the Palestinian Ambassador to Djibouti and to the UN religion representative and to James Wuye, and to several of the people who appear in the pages of Pillars, among others.
Pillars is an award-winning book that spent time in the #1 spot on Amazon in several categories. It has received excellent reviews, here are some:
“In this charming memoir, Rachel Pieh Jones (Stronger than Death), an expat American writer living in Djibouti, recounts her experiences moving from Minnesota to the horn of Africa when her husband took a professorship there, showing readers how her time in Muslim regions freed her from Islamophobic prejudice and deepened her own Christian faith.…The author’s considered, evocative prose and friendly persona make this a pleasure to read. Pieh Jones’s courage to embrace her adventures, rethink shallow faith, and find genuine friendships will inspire readers looking to expand their own horizons.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review
“This is a beautiful story, beautifully told. It’s much more than the memoirs of a Christian American living in Africa and exploring Islam with devoted Muslims; it’s about learning how to be a good neighbor to the people around you, wherever you might be in the world. This is the kind of book we need right now.” --Eboo Patel, author of Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation
In four decades of covering religion in America, I cannot recall a book by a Christian author that so eloquently explains the close parallels between the Muslim faith and Christianity. —ReadTheSpirit magazine
An inherently fascinating, informative and inspiring read from cover to cover, Pillars is an extraordinary life story, unreservedly recommended for all members of the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliations. —Midwest Book Review
Besides being an enjoyable read, it is a timely reminder for all of us to do all we can to remove prejudicial barriers and build bridges between different faiths. — Dr. Simon Ross Valentine, Church Times, UK
As committed Christians and American expatriates living in East Africa, Jones and her family have built a life on the borders of one of the most fractious relationships in human history: Islam and Christianity. . . She relates her story without universalizing her experience, but we can learn much from her example. — Christianity Today
As an American raised in a Muslim country, I have waited for a book like Pillars all my adult life, a personal book that discovers similarities and honors differences between Christianity and Islam, a book that, pillar by pillar, builds bridges of greater understanding across what are often chasms of disconnect. Read and savor this book, which shows what can happen when we connect rather than collide. --Marilyn R. Gardner, author of Between Worlds: Essays on Culture & Belonging
This is a book Christians and non-Christians alike can relate to: its core message is one of knowing how to admit you are wrong and learn from your mistakes, while strengthening friendships. —Booklist
This is not a book for those interested in polemics against Islam. Jones takes us into the lived experience of Muslims in the Horn of Africa and what a real engagement with them can be like with risk, affection, difference, and real learning. We also should remember her learning journey began with the Somali refugees in Minnesota. Many of us have Muslim neighbors or work colleagues or health care providers. This is a valuable book both for its exploration of Islam, but also for its model of humble, open dialogue, willing to make mistakes and take risks, to welcome and be welcomed. And it points to what can happen as we engage those of another faith. We not only learn about their faith; we rediscover our own. —Bob Trube
If you’ve read it, what did you think?
Have you left a review on Goodreads or Amazon?
Requested it from your library?
I’d love to hear from you!