Thursday, March 29, 2007

Jew or Greek, barbarian or Scythian

If you've been acutely tuned in to global news, you've probably noted the rise of conflict over recognition of the Armenian "conflict" (read: genocide) in the Ottoman Empire that peaked in 1915 with the deaths of some 800,000 of the two million Armenians living with Turkish borders.* You've probably heard about how France and even the U.S. are attempting to pass bills demanding that these events were recognized as massacres. You may have heard how Hrant Dink, an Armenian journalist living in Istanbul who was tried in national court for speaking about the "genocide"--a "crime against Turkishness"--was gunned down in broad daylight by an ultra-nationalist.

Turkish Daily News writer and political author Elif ┼×afak wrote the following in a recent editorial: "Imagine an exquisite dinner scene in Istanbul. A long, long table; at least 30 people. It is kind of breezy outside, the infamous lodos is blowing incessantly, as if to remind you that life in this city is far from quiet and orderly. Inside the room, the variety of the food served reflects the multicultural roots of today's Turkish cuisine: Albanian meatballs, Greek seafood, Kurdish spices, Armenian pastries, Turkish pilaf. People drink and eat and laugh and from time to time, they toast friends long departed.

"Then somebody starts to sing a song. Other guests join in and before you know it a string of songs follow, most of them sad but none disheartening. The songs switch almost effortlessly from Armenian to Kurdish, from Turkish to Greek. Where one stops another one picks up. Imagine, in short, a cosmopolitan setting where everyone is welcome no matter what their ethnicity, race or religion. Imagine a country where we are all equal, friendly and free."

Why do we partners in humanity have this longing? Because, I believe, this is part of the life of Paradise, of the Kingdom of God, where people from "every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues" will feast in the joyous presence of the Triune Savior, drinking from the water of life with every tear wiped away, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb" (Rev. 7:9-17). In Christ Jesus--and nowhere else--is there "a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew [or even the Greeks' long-standing enemies, the Turks], circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all" (Col. 3:11). God has planted an echo of eternity in everyone's heart for which we all long (Ecc. 3:10), but only by accepting the work of the Lord Jesus will we ever enter into that joy.

The beginnings of such a beautiful thing did happen at Dink's funeral, though: thousands of people--Turks, Kurds, and Armenians alike--marched in the streets chanting "We are all Hrant Dink! We are all Armenians!" Was this a demonstration of the intrinsic goodness of man? Or did it have something to do with the fact that Hrant Dink and his wife were faithful Christians, through whom God was spreading a vision of redemption? I've heard that at the funeral, which received national television coverage, Dink's wife truly spoke of her hope in the gospel of Christ. May her prayers be answered.

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*This began in 1874, when invading Russian forces sought and secured the aid of Armenians in defeating the Ottomans from within. Were there religious overtones, with the Armenians and Russians standing both as Orthodox Christians, and the Turks as Muslims?

1 comment:

HALFMOM said...

No tears, no pain, no body parts working against each other, no blood clots to remove - smooth flowing harmony of one body in one continuous action - now that sounds like heaven.