William Dalrymple is a gifted travel writer who skillfully draws on church history, theology, Middle East politics and comparative religions to tell the story of Middle East Christians. His journey begins on Greece's Mt. Athos ("the holy mountain") and follows the route taken by the monk John Moschos in 587 CE, a time when Middle Eastern Christianity was at its peak.
The Lebanese Presbyterian community is faithfully lighting candles on an Advent wreath this Sunday—and waiting. Disillusionment and desperation are growing all around them in Beirut, but, as Pastor Joseph Kassab says, “We have no choice here but to hope in a better future.” Then he adds: “Unfortunately, we don’t control it.”
During the first Iraq war, after the United States started dropping bombs as a prelude to Desert Storm, homiletics professor David Buttrick surveyed mainline churches around the country to see if the war had been mentioned on the previous Sunday, whether in the sermon or in the voicing of prayers and concerns. In the vast majority of cases the answer was no.
As bombs and rockets rained from the skies in Lebanon and Israel, the American presidents of international Lutheran and Reformed fellowships joined with the World Council of Churches to plead for an immediate cease-fire, saying that “the world cannot wait for signs of ‘a new Middle East’ to stop the killing.”
Need to understand complex history and relationships
Sep 05, 2006
Benjamin Weir, a former Presbyterian missionary who was held hostage for more than a year in Beirut two decades ago and has maintained friends in Lebanon ever since, says failure to reach a comprehensive peace agreement in the Middle East is at the root of the violence that recently tore that nation apart.