Monday, August 6, 2012

The places we used to know

In October 2010, I accompanied the priest in charge of the Damascus youth seminary where I worked on a trip to Homs, Syria, to attend the wedding of his friend.  The wedding was held in a new, very nice church building full of huge murals depicting scenes from the Bible:

This mural, representing the resurrection of Christ, is one of the coolest things I've ever seen:

This mural, showing the baptism of Christ, hung above the alcove where the baptismal font was kept:

Today, BBC News carries a great story about Syrian Christians who have been forced to flee their homes by Islamist rebels aligned against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.  The story carried this picture from Reuters of a church in Homs that was savaged in fighting between rebels and the regime:

Definitely the same place.

90% of Homs' Christians, including the family of my friend Samer, have fled their homes.  In the nearby city of Qusayr, mosques that normally broadcast the call to prayer broadcast warnings to local Christians to either join the revolution, or leave.  One man who left Qusayr with his family was pulled over by rebels when he tried to return to his supermarket to get some food.  When they learned that he was a Christian, they shot him dead.

For generations, Syria has been a place of refuge for Christians and others fleeing ethnic and religious violence, whether Armenians fleeing Turkey's anti-Christian genocide in 1915, Palestinians forced out of their homes in the first Arab-Israeli war, Iraqi Christians fleeing attacks after the fall of Saddam Hussein, or South Sudanese trying to escape North Sudan's genocide from 1983-2005.

I don't know if it's possible to stop the whirlwind of violence that appears to be destroying that old Syria.  But we should bear witness.  And as long as our leaders claim to be spreading democracy in the Middle East, we should ask them: what about the Christians (or the Alawites, the Yezidis and the Mandeans?)

1 comment:

  1. right on.

    I was thinking about a theology class the other day... We talked about the different views in Christianity - those who think the world is getting progressively worse, those thinking it's getting progressively better, and those thinking it hasn't changed a bit - just changed forms. I think the last.