Letter From New York August 25, 2014

Or, as it seems to me…

The day dawned grey and uninspiring. In a bit of time, the sun burning through the clouds transformed the day. The circular drive in front of the cottage is splattered with patches of sunlight and shadow as the light filters through the trees. My neighbor is peacefully mowing his grass and I am just back from a stroll around the circle that is Patroon Street. It is a quiet, lazy day in the Hudson Valley.

The news is, of course, not so peaceful. Saturday night was shattered in Napa, CA by an earthquake, magnitude 6.0, bringing down walls while human injury was, thankfully, low. There will be a lot of picking up and rebuilding going on. Markets found their goods tossed about, chimneys fell and water and gas mains broke; an early morning reminder that Mother Nature is capricious.

In Africa, dozens of aid workers slough on, undeterred by the continuing and mounting toll of Ebola dead. They need to be there so they are, acting with a quiet courage that is astounding and inspiring. They keep going, despite the risk, demonstrating a courage I wonder if I would have if I were in their place.

In Egypt, there are efforts being made to bring Israel and Hamas back to the table to get a ceasefire accomplished. While that is going on, rockets continue to be fired into Israel and Israel continues targeting suspected Hamas installations in Gaza. An eleven story apartment building in Gaza was destroyed, the largest building to be targeted so far. The conflict becomes more and more entrenched, both sides with legitimate grievances and a seeming inability to resolve them through negotiations. Hatred and fear run deep.

In Iraq, two suspected Shia militants marched into a Sunni mosque and killed dozens of worshipers, an act that seems to have stalled the installation of a coalition government in Baghdad, something seen as necessary for that fractured nation to pull together a cohesive front to battle ISIS, now controlling a large portion of old Iraq. They’re mostly Sunnis and they consider the Shia heretics.   Christians and other religious minorities must either convert or flee or die. 

Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, published an op-ed piece a few days ago in the New York Times, wondering who was going to stand up for Christians in the world? In various parts of the world, including the Mid-East, Christians are being persecuted and being forced to become refugees to survive and there has been little acknowledgement in the world or by world leaders that this is becoming a major problem. The world is showing “relative indifference” to the deaths occurring among Christians in the Middle East and Africa, he posits.

And he does have a point. Much more attention was paid to the Yazidis than was paid to the poor Christians fleeing ISIS. The plight of Christians in Pakistan is ignored for the most part as it is in other parts of the world.

Yes, Christians did their damage as they proselytized the world the last two centuries but that’s not an excuse to turn our backs on anyone being denied religious freedom much less the freedom to live because of religious belief. We need to recognize all those being persecuted for their religion, including Christians, who seem to be getting short shrift in large portions of the globe right now.






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