"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Tuesday, April 22, 2003 MECC General Secretary's Message for Easter: Rev. Dr. Riad Jarjour, general secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches, writes from Beirut a letter for the season:
Our family members in Iraq are still burying their dead and dressing the wounds their children sustained during the war launched against their country by the western alliance. They worry about their future in the midst of the violent chaos this oppressive war has left behind.
While the war against Iraq claims the world’s attention, the Israeli military machine continues to brutalize our Palestinian brothers and sisters. Is it possible for us to celebrate and exclaim, "Christ is risen! He has brought light to those in darkness and life to the dead," while some of our people are still carrying their cross, still climbing their Golgotha, with still no sign of a Resurrection Sunday dawn?
In spite of everything that drives us to sorrow, depression and despair, we nonetheless draw strength and hope from the One who is our strength and hope. He is the Lord of truth, of justice and of peace. In our worship we turn to Him so that he may be the defender of those ground down under the boot of hardship. He will transform their weakness into strength, their suffering into resurrection hope.
We pledge that we will continue to stand by them in their trials. They are the trials of us all. We will stand with them, a hand to help rebuild what has been broken down, a voice to rebuke the oppressor ... any oppressor. We stand in solidarity together and that gives us strength to bring peace. In the power of right, that peace will prevail.
One wonders: If the Church is persecuted in the Middle East, why do so many church leaders, from the ECUSA to the MECC, seek to undermine the one liberal democracy in the region? The Church is hardly persecuted in Israel -- unless you regard the Church as one with the Palestine liberation movement. (The MECC apparently does, to judge from the comments of its general secretary above and from the position papers at its website. For more in this vein, see Al-Bushra, which adds a disclaimer of non-violence to its Intifada call to resist Israeli occupation. They're more polished at Churches for Middle East Peace, but the thrust is the same.)
It is hard to understand why Christians would undercut Israel's cause in the Holy Land, given the treatment of dhimmis in Arab society, and the shoddy treatment of Christians and their sacred sites during Jordanian control of the West Bank.
How Arab gunmen coming off a wave of suicide bombings could seize and defile the Church of the Nativity -- yet be supported by Christian leaders -- remains unfathomable.
As for Iraq, the MECC general secretary makes clear his sentiments. He would have preferred the peace of the status quo to the "oppressive war" the Western Alliance "launched against" the country and its people.