Sunday, July 16, 2006

Seeking voices in the Middle East

In recent days, (like many others) I’ve been glued to the news on the Gaza-Israel-Lebanon crisis. After several days of rather heavy-dosed secular viewpoint, I hungered for voices speaking out of faith. As I trolled the Internet, I was somewhat disappointed to find that the usual voices I look to are (hopefully) still-thinking. But here’s some of what I’ve found so far:

Christian Today (a news service) carries several reports about groups of churches calling for an end to the crisis, including the World Council of Churches and Christian Aid, who also reports that the violence in Gaza has left many people already in poverty without electricity and water. UK’s Ekklesia adds coverage on church groups—including the National Council of Churches, WCC and Church World Service—calling for “all parties to step back from the brink of destruction.” Ekklesia also reports that The Middle East Council of Churches—made up of Christians from a range of Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic traditions—are “extremely concerned about the safety of all those living in the region, be they Israeli, Lebanese, or Palestinian” and express “fear of a return to conflict there and the danger that valuable development work could be undone.” A relief agency doing development work in those areas includes Mennonite Central Committee, whose workers in Beirut are safe but reporting that “displaced people are now visible in Beirut, as people flee from the bombing. Some are moving in with friends or relatives; some have camped out in a park.”

I haven’t come across many commentaries or editorials from the more recognized Christian or emerging voices. (Now, that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there—it just means I haven’t found ‘em) but I did find one today at Christianity Today, who posted a commentary by CT columnist David Gushee, in which he ruminates over the MidEast crisis from a more personal angle: the tugs of peace and destruction in our hearts. He writes, “It is often said that ‘everyone’ really wants peace, and that if diplomacy is skillful enough and statesmen are wise enough, then peace will prevail. I think it is more accurate to say that the desire for peace, while God-given, competes in the human heart with the desire for destruction—at least, the destruction of one's enemies.” While not quite the same vein but running along the same lines of thought is an interesting look by RadicalTorah at a passage of the Torah where peace is fashioned—but not shalom (and that’s a big difference).

Ultimately, for me, it’s the personal stories I seek out, because in the end (like the immigration issue) it’s the individual faces we need to see and their voices we need to hear so as to remind us not to lose sight of the people in the fog of the issues. Fellow-Alabamian RevAbi found some of those faces in an unlikely source when she stumbled upon an MSNBC article that highlights a frequent-flier forum where the Middle East crisis was making an appearance. Here’s what she found:

. . . on Wednesday when “Dovster,” a regular contributor from the northern Israeli kibbutz of Yiron, posted that he had been awakened by “a rather loud exchange of artillery fire.” In the hours that followed, Dovster pieced together what he saw and heard with local news reports. Then “BEYFlyer,” a regular forum contributor from Beirut, posted that the conflict was quickly spreading northward. “Woke up this morning to the sounds of rockets exploding on the airport runway,” he wrote. “… Roads south of the airport are severely damaged and bridges linking Beirut to the South are out. Traffic is non-existent in the city and I think the electricity and water stations will be next.”

The most recent post from BeyFlyer — whose online signature concludes with this quotation from Mahatma Gandhi: “An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind” — on Friday morning was even more ominous: “Going off line... this is getting (to be) a bit too much” . . . .

So, in the midst of all the news, the complicated politics, and the mind-boggling ramifications, I’m grateful to RevAbi’s cue: I pray with her “for those who are in the middle of this, persons who have family and friends in both places, and for those making decisions.”

(Image: Omernos/Wikipedia)

1 comment:

revabi said...

Well thanks Carmen for the link and notice. I have been keeping up with the forum everyday now, and praying for them, their families, and for the whole of the MidEast.

Itis sad when you can't find helpful spiritual voice on something so important. I do so appreciate you looking.

Our church prayed for the MidEast, and I was able to place it in my sermon quite nicely.

If you find more let me know.