Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Down by the rivers of Babylon.
A bleak story in the New York Times this morning reports that Iraqi Christians are in desperate straits. Nothing unites like hatred, and the sectarian Muslim violence in Iraq has found at least one common homegrown enemy: the Christian churches, no matter how ancient, which are being linked to "the crusaders" and to the newly unpopular Benedict XVI. (The article points a finger at Benedict, but the U.S., which has devastated an appalling number of Iraqi lives in our Rumsfeldian folly, is more directly to blame for making Christians vulnerable.)
In the midst of a lot of depressing examples is this bit of long-historical context:
Christianity took root here near the dawn of the faith 2,000 years ago, making Iraq home to one of the world's oldest Christian communities. The country is rich in biblical significance: scholars believe the Garden of Eden described in Genesis was in Iraq; Abraham came from Ur of the Chaldees, a city in Iraq; the city of Nineveh that the prophet Jonah visited after being spit out by a giant fish was in Iraq.
Both Chaldean Catholics and Assyrian Christians, the country's largest Christian sects, still pray in Aramaic, the language of Jesus.
Curiously missing, however, is the most famous biblical place in Iraq: Babylon.
("Iraq's Christians flee as extremist threat worsens," Michael Luo, New York Times 10.17.06, reg req'd)
Copyright © 2006 by Philocrites | Posted 17 October 2006 at 7:39 AM