Summoned from the Margin: Homecoming of an African

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Summoned from the Margin tells the story of Lamin Sanneh's fascinating journey from his upbringing in an impoverished village in West Africa to education in the United States and Europe to a distinguished career teaching at the Universities of Yale, Harvard, Aberdeen, and Ghana.

He grew up in a polygamous household in The Gambia and attended a government-run Muslim boarding school. A chance encounter with Helen Keller's autobiography taught him that education and faith are the key to overcoming physical and personal hardship and inspired his journey. Burning theological questions about God's nature and human suffering eventually led Sanneh to convert from Islam to Christianity and to pursue a career in academia. Here he recounts the unusually varied life experiences that have made him who he is today.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When an author compares academia with a polygamous household and has extensive experience in both worlds, the reader raises a brow. “Departments are like co-wives in the university’s paternal embrace, with members of the faculty their consummated offspring, complete with sibling jealousy.” That religion scholar Sanneh, who teaches at Yale, begins this multireligious and multicultural memoir with stories of his childhood in Gambia in a Muslim polygamous home and returns to this in playfully describing life in the academy makes for thoughtful lightness that mashes up Coming to America and de Tocqueville. Through his eyes we see the American Christian caste system he experiences in the 1960s, when he attempts to enter Christian churches and university circles. However, his story is not about race but about interfaith dialogue, appreciation, and faith. Sanneh’s inner journey reverses Anselm’s “faith seeking understanding” to become “understanding seeking faith.” His twist is that the homecoming is not a return to Africa but a fresh way of following Christ through a radical Catholicism that honors his own roots in Islam and other religions not with “airy politeness” but with respectful debate about truth claims. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
Dana L. Robert-- Boston University"At once brave, lyrical, and profoundly moving, this book traces the life of one of the world's great scholars. Lamin Sanneh illuminates the contours of an African childhood, the relationship between Islam and Christianity, and the ongoing challenges of bridging racial and cultural differences. This powerful memoir is both a timely commentary on issues in world Christianity and a timeless masterpiece of the human spirit."Jonathan J. Bonk-- Overseas Ministries Study Center"A riveting modern-day Pilgrim's Progress by a leading world Christian intellectual -- eloquent but not verbose, profound but not obscure, lucid but not clich�d. Rare is the memoir that engages its reader from beginning to end. Lamin Sanneh's is one of those."John Sentamu-- Archbishop of York"Sanneh's personal journey from childhood roots in the Gambia is told with refreshing delight in a wonderfully kaleidoscopic account of people and places along the way. . . . As a multilayered personal testimony from the place where civilizations meet, this is truly a captivating read."Philip Jenkins-- Baylor University"I've always found Lamin Sanneh one of the very best analysts of contemporary Christianity worldwide, but my admiration for him grows still more when I read this disarmingly honest and instructive autobiography. Read it if you want to learn not just about Lamin Sanneh himself, or world Christianity, but about West Africa, Islamic-Christian relations, the process of religious conversion, and a host of other matters. Or just enjoy a really well-written autobiography!"Patrick J. Ryan-- Fordham University"For most of the four decades I have known Lamin Sanneh, I have urged him to write a memoir of his personal pilgrimage. At last my prayer has been answered! I treasure this marvelous addition to the history of Christian and African autobiography that reaches back to Saint Augustine."Gavin D'Costa-- University of Bristol"Lamin Sanneh's autobiography is moving, humble, and very thought-provoking. A convert to Christianity from Islam and now a leading missiologist at Yale, Sanneh speaks simply from a rich and sensitive Christian faith. . . . He has the rare quality of a top academic as well as a humane and spiritually discerning communicator."John B. Carman-- Harvard Divinity School"This moving narrative vividly portrays the many stages of Lamin Sanneh's religious journey, connecting his personal experiences on four continents with major cultural shifts in the last fifty years. . . . Sanneh offers a sobering critique of Western Protestantism and explains his confidence in the progress of African Christianity, expressed in the mother tongue. His painful memories of multiple rejections should sharpen our reflection on our Christian past and present."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802867421
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 9/24/2012
  • Pages: 299
  • Sales rank: 824,103
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Lamin Sanneh is D. Willis James Professor of World Christianity at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. His previous books include Disciples of All Nations: Pillars of World Christianity and Whose Religion Is Christianity?
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Table of Contents

Foreword Kelefa Sanneh xi

Acknowledgments xiv

Part I

1 What God Wills 3

2 Negotiating Childhood 23

3 Second Wind 36

4 Exile at Home 64

5 Knocking on the Door 82

6 Challenged 103

Part II

7 New World 125

8 Intercontinental Vistas 146

9 Boomerang 158

10 Clipped Cedars 172

11 Beyond Jihad 191

Part III

12 Native Tongue 209

13 Turning Point 221

14 Homecoming 239

15 Rock of Ages 256

Index and Glossary 277

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