As I read about the horrors unfolding this week–capping weeks of inconceivable violence aimed at Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities–I found myself utterly unable to express anything about it in words. I’ve held off several posts on topics that seemed trite in the midst of such events, finally just Going For Cute as a respite from the unbroken gloom.
I wish I had something profound to add to the commentary my colleagues and others have been offering about the terrible events of the week, but all that comes to mind when I try to write is, “There are enough words out there already. Just shut up and pray.”As the world continues to mint new horrors that cry out to God, all we can do is cling to our faith in God and love for Him and our fellow man.
The danger we face in the west–from the comfort of our homes safely outside of zones of war and disease–is the tendency to let the Self intrude on these events: how we feel, how we react, what it means to us.
That’s natural. We only have our subjective reality and the horror experienced by another can only be understood in relation to our own understanding of horror.
However, I know that I will live and die without ever fearing that I might see my child decapitated before my eyes. This is the very stuff of the Book of Maccabees. They are things we hear about in history but never think we’ll live to witness. And then we do: in Serbia, Rwanda, Mosul. We have no real reference point, and so our attempts to understand it will always fall short.
Christians have one reference point that has to remain at the center of all our understanding: the cross. There’s a reason one hangs over every altar. It is the pivot point on which the world turns. Nothing, utterly nothing, makes sense without.
I finally watched Noah last night, and while it certainly has problematic elements, one thing it does exceptionally well is depict the world very close to the moment at which sin entered in. As Noah says to Ham in the move, “We broke the world. We did this.” What we’re witnessing now is the fruit of that first sin.
The wood on which Christ hung was felled in Eden, by our hands. And after all this time, mankind still holds the ax at the root.
We are doing what we can–albeit too little and too late–as civilized people to try to help those on the brink of annihilation, and this is as it should be. We cannot solve all the world’s problems, but we damn well better solve the problems we created, even if it means a 4 point drop in the popularity polls.
I find it interesting that the threatened slaughter of the Yazidi triggered US action, but our leaders could barely raise a voice in protest when Christians were being ground into dust. As I’ve said before, the hour is clear: it’s 64 AD, and whether Christianity is a new faith as it was then, or an old faith as it is now, the persecution is for the same reason: we threaten those who seek power as an end. We upset the narrative. We are an inconvenient reminder that mankind not only broke the world, but killed its maker, and did both things as actions of a free will.
Christendom is shattered, but its greatest strengths live on in the hearts and communities of believers. That’s all we’ve got, and really all we ever needed, despite the glories of our past. We must live as Christians, against all danger and threats. We must forgive, against all wrongs. We must hope, against all evidence. We must love, against all reason.