At its worst, Protestantism has long been deeply suspicious of all holy things, of the very notion that a physical object can carry anything of the sacred. At its best, such a suspicion is aimed instead at the notion of holier things—of an elite, rarefied sacrality that sets a few things utterly apart.
Satellite images show that Islamic State militants have completely destroyed a 1,400-year-old monastery, St. Elijah’s—the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq. The jihadist group has destroyed other ancient sites in their attempt to establish a caliphate in Iraqi and Syrian territory. “Our Christian history in Mosul is being barbarically leveled,” said Paul Thabit Habib, an Iraq-based Catholic priest. “We see it as an attempt to expel us from Iraq, eliminating and finishing our existence in this land.” The monastery was taken over by U.S. troops during the Iraq War. It had been partially restored before the ISIS demolition (Newsweek, January 20).