An American Feminist in the Arab World
On a fateful evening in 1978, Chivvis Moore, living as a carpenter in California, stops by the house of an architect friend. “What if I wrote to Hassan Fathy?” Chivvis suggests, eager to meet the Egyptian author of the influential Architecture for the Poor. Less than three months later, Chivvis arrives in Cairo knowing virtually nothing about the culture and religion of the predominantly Muslim Middle East.
What begins as a trip to meet Hassan Fathy becomes a 16-year odyssey that stretches from a year working in the shop of a master carpenter in Egypt to fraught years teaching English in Palestine.
Offering a portrait of a land and a people not found in newspaper headlines or on television screens, First Tie Your Camel, Then Trust in God humanizes the misunderstandings, misconceptions, and tragedies that arise when we fail to appreciate the humanity at the core of us all.
First, Tie Your Camel, Then Trust in God is the story of an American feminist’s remarkable adventure in a part of the world that these days is uppermost in Western minds. Having earned her living as a carpenter in the United States, Chivvis Moore traveled to Egypt in 1978, knowing almost nothing about the culture and religion of the Middle East. The book describes her encounters in mostly Muslim societies, beginning with the year she worked in the shop of a master carpenter in Cairo. We move with her through both her attraction and the resistance she felt to a culture so different from her own and come to understand the result – a life turned from then on toward “the middle” of the world. We leave her as she returns to the US, after living and teaching for eleven years in the West Bank. This is a detailed and intimate journey, both spiritual and geographical, and it humanizes in depth and detail a part of the world at once embattled and unknown.