Yesterday I read a short article in a British paper: The Telegraph. The article was a report on a study conducted on the life, and the prospects for life, of Christianity in the Middle East. Those few of you still familiar with the word, Christianity, comfortable in its presence, inclined to use it favorably and with some affection and loving attachment will know what I have reference to. For the growing majority of people whose understanding of and connection with the word and its meaning is arguably much less than their knowledge of the leading actors in The Walking Dead or the line on next week’s NFL games let me try to place it for you; to contextualize it.
Tomorrow is Christmas Day. You will immediately see there is a similarity between the words Christianity and Christmas. I will not belabor the thing, but simply point out that the first syllable is, itself, a word: Christ. And the word signifies a man. Tomorrow is, despite the amazing amount of evidence to the contrary, the celebration of the birthday of that man, the annual observance of that event by the dwindling few who happen to believe in the man and the stories told about him; what he said and did. Simply put that is the astounding fact that Christ is at one and the same time God incarnate and the savior of the World and a man “born in time, born of a virgin.” No, I mean it, really. (Actually His name is Jesus, and Christ is, more or less, a title.) I happily count myself among the remnant who think this way about Jesus Christ; that He is truly God and truly Man. And, that is just the beginning of the amazing facts about Him. But, let us not get ourselves involved in that.
For those who know it is not necessary to do so; for the rest, they will be made aware sooner of later, here or there.
The prognosis is not good. That is, the prognosis for Christianity, that system of beliefs and practice, that way of living that grew from the testimony of some few people who knew and lived with this man Jesus about what he did and said so many years ago in Palestine, in the Middle East. It is dying, they say in The Telegraph; dying in the place where it was born and where it has lived longest. The prognosis for the “rest” I have reference to above; that they will be made aware of certain “amazing facts” at some time is certain: they will.
The study reported on in The Telegraph did provide a cause for the imminent demise of Christianity in its homeland, may it rest in peace. Militant Islam (MI) is infecting Christianity in the Middle East, and the disease, so says the article, is likely to cause its quick death. “Sic transit gloria coeli et terra” to corrupt a phrase.
How is this being accomplished, and how, better yet, is it so being done right under the eagle eyes of our many media snoops? Does no one have any idea except some old rag in Blighty? And, finally, why have not those in powerful places and positions, guardians of freedoms, protectors of widows and orphans, weak and underprivileged the world over raised even an eyebrow at this rather depressing (to say the least) bit of news? Well, I have my ideas about who might have gathered a rumor here and there, and why they haven’t whispered a word, but then, I am a suspicious type. I’ll leave it to more rational folks to explain why the imminent death of Christianity in the land of its birth means simply nothing here in the West which owes simply everything to it.
What interests me, just as much, is this little fact; call it a sidebar. It, too, will never appear anywhere soon. Maybe it is simply too boring? That fact is this: 150,000 Christians a year are killed for being Christians. What, some editor might reasonably ponder is newsworthy about that, or a burnt village in Africa when compared to Our Dear Leader bodysurfing in Hawaii? Many, many more are imprisoned without trial, little girls raped, women raped, churches blown up or burned to the ground, homes burned, villages burned, neighborhoods attacked by armed fanatics and , well, sad to say, more schoolchildren, murdered in Muslim countries simply because they are Christian than are murdered by our own madmen. Again, one wonders about the silence, the the lack of interest.
Tertullian was an early Christian Father, a theologian whose work helped form what was becoming Christianity. He was from Carthage, part of the Middle Eastern world where Christianity is now dying of that disease called MI, also known to be fatal to Ambassadors and people in tall buildings in places like New York City. Among other things he is famous for having said is this, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.” Now that might scare a good atheist or modern day secularist in a corner office somewhere.
And now, before I leave you to turn on your Santa Claus lights, your reindeer with their red noses, your Frosty the Snowmen in their hats, to fill your living rooms with wrapping paper and your bellies with rich foods and rare vintages, and to taste deeply all of the other signs of our winter holiday, may I ask you to wonder this. Will there be more to mourn over the death of the last winged cardinal at your feeder or the death of the last Christian once from some place west of the Indus and east of Eden? I do not think so, because you will not know. Few are those in any position to let you know who hazard saying a word about it. Fewer still are those who think anything should be done. Many, I suspect rather hope that nothing will be done. Ever.
We are being flooded with the blood and the bodies of the dying victims of militant Islam as the story in The Telegraph has it. The dead are the seed. The raped and beaten and dispossessed are the soil, the field and the planting where will grow anew the the fruit of their sacrifice. It has suddenly occurred to me that “they” are afraid of what this way comes when , some day, the once and future Christianity appears. I can think of no other reason for such a black curtain over this news, a holocaust across a third of the world. As Special Agent Gibbs often says, “Do ya think?”