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Summoned from the Margin: Homecoming of an African

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  47 ratings  ·  14 reviews
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 boardin ...more
Paperback, 299 pages
Published September 24th 2012 by Eerdmans (first published September 1st 2012)
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May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lamin Sanneh died in January this year (2019) have an extraordinarily rich life, culturally and intellectually. His two children had been urging him to write an account of his journey from rural Gambian poverty in a polygamous Muslim home (albeit one that could trace its roots to Mandinka royalty) to culminating as Professor of World Christianity at Yale University. It is quite the transition. Academically, he set out to study Islamics, which he did to post-doctoral research, but he found himsel ...more
Anthony Rodriguez
Jan 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Lamin Sanneh was an incredibly important historian/theologian. I really love the work of his that I’ve read and think it should be read widely. I was so sad when he recently died. I’m glad I read his autobiography. I have to say, it’s not great reading as far as autobiographies go. He’s clearly an academic who is better at and more interested in describing his research than telling really enthralling stories. Still, his story was good to read. So so interesting. Wildly different perspective on s ...more
Robert D. Cornwall
The story of one man's journey from his roots in Islam into Christianity, finally resting in Roman Catholicism. As an African convert, the road was a long and winding one. This isn't a breezy memoir, but it is a fitting read. For those who are engaged in interfaith conversations and wonder about the whole issue of conversion, this is a compelling story that might run counter to expectations. Sanneh's story includes his move to America for college, and experiencing the early stages of the Civil R ...more
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a densely woven account of Sanneh's life journey: how his experience and scholarly pursuits , driven by his obsession with religious seeking, brought him from childhood on an island in Africa to Europe and to the U.S., finally finding a home in New Haven.
Straddling three cultural streams--the traditional African cyclical worldview of his mother's tribe, the Islamic school attended from age five, and simultaneous English school where he learned that movement forward (change) is constant.
Barbara Hampton
Dec 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Because Lamin Sanneh was my one formal teacher in my quest to learn about Islam and Muslims, I read his narrative eagerly (long before Christmas--it was to have been my present!). It is not your typical autobiography, but then Sanneh is not your typical person, especially not your typical academic. He uses the experiences of his life as springboards to the ideas that captured him and propelled him to an academic and inter-faith career. It is only a miracle of God that he persisted in his desire ...more
Dennis Henn
Jul 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Sanneh acknowledges that he wrote this book reluctantly, mostly at the urging of his son who did not want to lose his father's memories of growing up in the Gambia. I expected, then, a memoir. I expected to understand how a person raised in a remote, tiny West African village could emerge from his Muslim schooling to find faith as a Christian. He had almost nothing positive to say about the role of Christian missions. Methodists, Catholics and Lutherans all failed him, scared to participate in a ...more
Greg Taylor
Dec 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Makes a funny and interesting comparison of university departments with polygamous families: “Departments are like co-wives in the university’s paternal embrace, with members of the faculty their consummated offspring, complete with sibling jealousy.” [224] Sanneh begins this multi-religious and multi-cultural memoir with stories of his childhood in Gambia in a Muslim polygamous home and returns to this play on the academy. A deeply thoughtful lightness in a “Coming to America” and de Tocquevill ...more
A while back I got into reading a bunch of books about world Christianity and global missions. One of the best authors in this regard is Lamin Sanneh. For those who like biographies, Sanneh has published his memoir: Summoned from the Margins: Homecoming of an African. In it we hear the story of Sanneh’s early life in Gambia and his eventual move from Islam to Christianity despite reluctance to accept him from all the churches he met. As he documents his later times in the academy, gaining degree ...more
Fascinating account of a Muslim boy from rural Gambia who became a Christian and a leading scholar of Christian/Muslim studies despite the churchs reluctance to antagonize Muslims by baptizing him. This articulate memoir is full of insights into inter-religious dialogue, significance of the vernacular, World Christianity (as opposed to Global Christianity), race in America, and the various national, academic and religious communities this incredible scholar has called home. Far more than I could ...more
Jan 08, 2013 rated it liked it
This one was a stretch for me! His cultural background (non-Western) made both his writing style and his framework for posing and evaluating questions difficult for me to follow at times. However, I feel like I gained some insight into the worldview of an intellectually and spiritually inquisitive person coming from a Muslim background. He offers quite a few challenges to the Westernized church while, at the same time, validating the unique power of the gospel worldwide.
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was an extremely interesting book, although I have to admit it was difficult to understand in places, owing to my ignorance about some of the more complex intellectual issues involved in understanding Islam and Christianity's respective world views.
Jul 28, 2015 rated it liked it
I read this book for a reading group discussion. I found it hard going. It was just difficult for me to read. I think the subject matter has merit but the way the book was written left me uninterested. I felt it was too academic for the common reader.
Thomas Dimattia
Oct 15, 2012 marked it as to-read
I read where he is a Professor of history at Yale University. Historians almost always have a balanced outlook on the past, so I am looking forward to this book.
Chris Schutte
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Beautifully narrated story of a profound and unusual spiritual journey. Inviting and thought provoking.
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Nov 15, 2018
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