Press-Republican

Columns

September 16, 2013

The evil we know in Syria

For days, Christians with ties to Syria waited for news about the fighting in Maaloula, a village near Damascus that is famous for being one of three in existence in which the locals still speak ancient Aramaic, the language of Jesus.

International reports were sketchy and American media reports were all but nonexistent. Then the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group critical of President Bashar al-Assad and his government, reported that the village had fallen on Sept. 7 in an assault led by rebels with ties to al-Qaeda.

But no one was certain who controlled Maaloula. There were reports of continued street fighting between government troops and elements of the Free Syrian Army. Rebels kept lobbing shells at the village from surrounding mountains.

During the siege, an American bishop of the ancient Antiochian Orthodox Church -- based in Damascus for centuries -- was called by Metropolitan Saba Esper of southern Syria, who in turn had just reached Mother Belagia, abbess of the famous St. Thekla monastery in Maaloula.

The Syrians wanted to know: Was anyone paying attention?

Syria and other lands in the Middle East are "where our spiritual roots are, the roots of all Christians," the location of biblical sites that are "not in Disney World or Never-Never Land," said Bishop Basil Essey of Wichita, Kan., in a Sunday sermon that was posted online.

"Our Savior walked there. The apostles walked there. ... These are not just places in books, brothers and sisters. These are holy places where Christians, your spiritual ancestors, and for many of you your physical ancestors, have lived Holy Orthodoxy for the past 2,000 years."

At the time of his conversation with Metropolitan Saba, he said, reports indicated that Maaloula's two famous monasteries were saved, but that two village churches, one Orthodox, the other Eastern-Rite Catholic, had been ransacked. The churches still existed -- kind of.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time