SALON (Yep, that Salon!)SUNDAY, NOV 29, 2015 06:00 AM PSTDead temples vs. living churches: ISIS is obliterating Christian communities — why aren’t we paying attention?
We mourn destruction of artifacts, but the living churches being destroyed are the heart and soul.
Every few days, ISIS militants in the Middle East carry out some new atrocity calculated to inflict shock and awe on Western opinion. They carry out barbarous executions, they destroy priceless items of cultural heritage, all duly filmed, and those acts have their effect worldwide. It's a sad commentary on global opinion, though, that some of the most savage blows inflicted on the world's cultural and religious heritage have gained nothing like as much attention. Assyrian sculptures and Greco-Roman temples are irreplaceable monuments of human civilization, but so too are the living churches now being uprooted. Christian communities have almost been obliterated in most of Iraq, and a similar process is underway in large areas of Syria. That humanitarian crisis is familiar enough, but far less understood is the significance of these churches now facing terminal crisis. In their time, they represented not just a distant fringe of Christianity, but its heart and core. Ironically, they decisively shaped the history of Islam, as well as Christianity.