BLOG 242 March 2, 2015
Americans continue to be obsessed with the things that really count –athletic events, the Oscars, and what dresses the women wore. The country worries when professional basketball players get hurt, but can’t remember who assassinated President John Kennedy. A soldier stationed in Afghanistan said, “While I am fighting in the field, Americans are at the mall. These misplaced values are serious –because there is smoke on the horizon and the public needs to pay attention to the source of the fire.
We did pause when Kayla Mueller was killed by Islamic extremists in the Syrian-ISIS led war. Coming to the war torn world as an aid worker to alleviate suffering, Kayla took on suffering, writing home “I find God in human suffering.” What an extraordinary statement – and person! Now ISIS has gotten serious about killing Christians. Killing journalist reporting on the war wasn’t enough. After beheading 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, they marched on in their attempts to create a self-styled caliphate. The Britain based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 90 Christians were currently being held by ISIS.
In three more days, ISIS attacked Christians in northeastern Syria pushing the number abducted the extremists to more than 220. Not only are the terrorist killing Christians, they are attempting to destroy the Assyrian heritage that extends back through the centuries even to the Akkadian civilization that is one of the cradles of all Western civilization. In Iraqi, ISIS now controls 1,800 of the countries major archaeological sites. The extremists appear to be on a rampage to destroy everything from statues to books to whatever they consider to be non-Islamic. They even attack Islamic sites that they consider to be apostate.
As I blogged earlier, American policy-makers appear reluctant to admit the Middle East is in a religious war. How any diplomat can look at pictures of priceless, ancient remainders of the beginning of history being destroyed and not get the picture is almost beyond comprehension. Westerners had best pay attention as such extremist will not stop at the Mediterranean Sea should they succeed in the Middle East.
Let’s remember how Islam spread, beginning in 620 BCE during the period of Imperial expansion. Conversion was by the sword. Accept their version of Allah or lose your head! Those days appear to have returned where even a leading Moslem cleric in England refused to condemn the beheadings by Jihadi John. And if a soldier for Islam should get killed? An instant free ticket to heaven!
The Crusaders were no better. Swords and spear killed Moslems up to the gates of Jerusalem. Eternal reward awaited those who fell in battle. Did both sides think would get to continue the war in heaven? Who knows, but such bizarre ideas rumbled along in those years.
Now they have returned.
The bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East has been run out of Syria. Possibly the oldest Christian Church in existence, they still speak Aramaic as Jesus did. With his congregation of displaced persons, he decried the destruction of the remnants of their civilization extending back well beyond 20 centuries. Perhaps, Kayla Mueller was right. Surely God is in the suffering of these Assyrian Christians running for their lives.
The smoke is on the horizon.