Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The suffering church of Syria


Stupid Statements and Dying Christians: which matters most?

antiochToday in Church we learned that the oldest Christian diocese in the world is in serious peril. A Christian leader got a message out to us saying that “almost all hope” is gone. ISIS confronts his community on three sides and his food kitchen, feeding people of every faith, faces extinction. This week, unless something is done, horror may fall on good people.
My newsfeed says a Republican candidate said something about Islam and the Presidency.
Since the GOP fellow is a decent man and what he said was clumsy and wrong, my guess is the media will hound him into an apology. He should apologize. We will feel better, because a hurt will have been healed and a harm averted to some future candidate for President. This is a problem created on American media with the help of American media by a media driven personality and so American media finds it infinitely more interesting than dead Middle Eastern Christians.
After all, one off the mark comment about a hypothetical Islamic candidate is much easier to deal with than the death of one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. Christians in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon face the worst situation since the Middle Ages. They are being displaced, robbed, raped, and murdered.
But a Republican candidate said a thing that nobody should defend about a candidate who does not exist.
The lives of the Christians in Syria, my community, are in the hands of God. The only government leader acting is Vladimir Putin. If some of the most ancient Christian churches, schools, monasteries, and orphanages survive, then it will be because a former KGB colonel is acting on his Machiavellian interests. Meanwhile, in the US, we shall make sure that a boy who made a clock some chuckle heads thought was a bomb is honored at the White House.
I am glad for the boy and sorry about the foolish thing the candidate said, but only in the spare moment when I can stop mourning for the murder of Christians in Syria. There is no easy American partisan villain (Bush! Obama! Both?) or “good guys” to support, so innocents must die, priceless art is destroyed, and history is lost. Dead Christians are less interesting than the foolish statements of American politicians.
We could stop the dying. Client states could intervene. The Turks do nothing. The House of Saud does evil. Jordan does nothing. Christians keep dying.
But at least teachers will think twice about ethnic stereotyping regarding school projects . . . and political candidates will remember there is no religious test for office under our Constitution. These are good things. We can feel good about those good things. Perhaps, we will feel less good about thousands butchered with weapons we provided to untrustworthy allies while we did nothing. Perhaps we will if we ever learn of the horrors in between our just criticism of the stupid things Americans do. We are victims of micro-aggressions and we are not going to sit idly by and let this happen.
And we should not. We can condemn the candidate and the school of the clock-making lad and do something in Syria, but the first two are easy and the third hard. So my news feed is flooded by attacks on the candidate and treats for the clock-maker and hardly a word about my dying church.
Meanwhile, American guns in the hands of men who often were “on our side” against the Syrian regime will keep killing Christians in Syria. This is an inconvenient fact, far away, where reporting would put news crews in danger. Better run another story on polls: media news created by media to be reported by media.
Dead Christians in Syria are much harder to film. Macro-aggression is hard. The macro-aggressors will not be threatened by media condemnation and have no interest in being interviewd in our studios, so why should our media care? A Church in peril this week requires no action because it is not in a major American media market. Maybe some candidate will not correct the lunatic ravings of a questioner at this rally? There is a story.
God help us. God save the Church of Syria, my brothers and sisters, and forgive our monstrous sensitivity to local slights and inhuman insensitivity to international genocide.

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