When it comes to Hollywood and aliens, it’s virtually impossible for Westerners to believe (or Westerners in Hollywood at least) that fierce creatures from outer space might target a city for their initial airstrikes other than Washington or London (the excellent racial commentary sic-fi District 9 being the honourable exception – and a special mention to Attack the Block for being set in a sink estate not Piccadilly Circus).
I mean Addis Ababa is a large metropolis worthy of takeover. So too Lahore. But hey, who’d pay good money on a ticket and popcorn to watch people we don’t care about be killed in buildings we don’t recognise?
People not like us in places not like ours.
Which brings me to Greg Sheridan’s sobering article in The Australian this morning on the extreme persecution of Christian communities all over the Middle East. What makes it all the more sobering is that he is often a lone voice in the Western mainstream media when pointing it out.
And it’s catching. Western Christians, having had it so easy for so long, are tetchy and touchy about their rights being infringed upon as the secular framework hardens against them. It’s easy therefore for us to adopt the “Hollywood and Aliens” approach to the persecution of Christianity – and view our experiences and our locations as the locus of the problem.
If that’s you, then Sheridan’s article is a must-read.
Sheridan is a self-confessed ropey Catholic, but the liberal media across the West should hang their heads in shame at their convenient gaze-averting to the tragedy unfolding across the Middle East.
Have a read of the article if you can. You can find it here.
Sheridan lists the stats:
According to a study by the non-partisan Pew Research Centre, Christians are the most persecuted minority in the world. In 2014, according to this study, Christians were persecuted and harassed by government or the general society in 108 countries, an increase from 102 the year before.
A century ago, about one in seven people in the Middle East were Christian. Today the figure is less than one in 25, and the proportion continues to decline.
Christianity is declining in the West because life is too good. Christianity is declining in the East because life is too bad – or it is simply snuffed out.
And how about this:
The scale of the tragedy in Iraq and Syria is immense. Once there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq. Perhaps 10 per cent of those remain there now, and most of them would leave if they could.
Egypt’s Coptic Bishop, Anba Suriel, now living in Melbourne, says this:
“I really don’t think the plight of Christians in the Middle East is being noticed in the West. It’s being ignored by the Western media and by Western governments. The Christians of the Middle East have no voice.”
It’s not being noticed in the West because the institutions that do notice don’t care to tell us about it because it runs contrary to the “Christians can never be victims” mantra. And to be fair, too many Christians in the West bewail their victim status.
But having said that – it’s a moral failure of the Western media to ignore this.
It must be dismaying for Bishop Suriel to get up in the morning in Melbourne and read The Age and its gravitas-inducing roll call of Western victimhood, with nary a mention of the wholesale destruction and displacement of whole people groups in places Hollywood would never shoot an alien movie.
Here in Australia every victim of oppression under the sun is regaled and reviewed, but since introspective navel gazing is our schtick, victims outside our orbit simply don’t exist.
And any focus on the places on the planet where the sun of persecution shines hottest and fierces? Nothing. Nix. Nada. Christian victims (wherever they are), are a bit like women Tory Prime Ministers in the UK – not the right type of woman to celebrate the breaking the glass ceiling.
But Bishop Suriel is wrong on one thing: The Christians of the Middle East HAVE a voice and someone is listening to it. Hear these words in Revelation 6 – a timely text in a world writhing and tearing itself apart:
9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants[c] and their brothers[d] should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
As Christians in the West, let’s not give in to the Hollywood and aliens framework in which we view our world as the world. And perhaps we can start to mourn and lament and call out “How long oh Lord?” for true victims, rather than concoct a level of victimhood that we simply haven’t experienced yet, and by God’s grace won’t for a very long time if at all.