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fraternity, according to todays world, are an obstacle for progress,” he wrote. “We must agree with those who rightly state this. yes, with our blindness and insolence we merit such libels.”1

Where would the american impact lead? Ottoman muslims experienced it first of all as a thorough challenge of their cultural self-confidence, both confusing and dangerous. Where it would lead, they did not know. ameri- cans, ultimately, did not know either. in the early nineteenth century, the most committed of them just wanted to give the best they believed they had to the most promising region they knew, the Bible lands, hoping to build up there “Zionand hasten Jesus’ coming or omnipresence and, with this, the near and happy end time of the churches whose role was accomplished once the millennium” began. For the missionary community, “Zionmeant Jesus made visible: the shining truth of the Gospel together with a restored, reempowered Jerusalem and israel of which he was the soul and the king, according to promises to be read in the Bible. From Zion in the near east, the Kingdom of God, the millennium, would spread over the earth. This millennialismexisted long before oil interests shaped american interaction with the region. The commitment to a Kingdom of God on earth was the most distinctive note of american Christians, american theologian helmut richard niebuhr has stated. The earthly Kingdom of God was part of the american dream, of the deeper idea of manifest destiny, but also of a rhe- torically pervasive political catechismin U.s. political culture. in contrast to isolationism in diplomacy, mission had a global orientation from the be- ginning. it set its globalist goals beyond patriotism, continental expansion, or the pilgrim fathersidentification of america as a new Canaan. it believed in its vocation to global evangelization and the preparation of the Kingdom to come.2

american protestant overseas missions began in 1810, when the ameri- can Board of Commissioners for Foreign missions (aBCFm) was founded in Boston and the United states was thirty-four years old. The aBCFm started with india and Ceylon but soon centered its efforts on the “nearer east,” the Bible lands.3 Unlike most books on U.s. relations with the middle east, this book deals with faith, vision, and identity building as these re- late to the intimate american–near eastern encounter. it studies american identity building through the interactions with a world that was both pre- carious and promising in american eyes. it addresses worlds of faith and imagination (in French: imaginaire) as made visible in projects, encounters, and (self-)representations. it pays attention to conflicting apocalypticisms, or representations of both past and future based on sacred scriptures. it draws attention to the elements of a symbolic economy,” to symbols, assumptions,

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