Archive for August, 2014

The end of the world as we know it?

August 9, 2014

isis-church-1800-louis-sako-mosul-christiansThe photo above is of a centuries-old church burning in Mosul.  It survived invasions by Arabs, Turks, Crusaders, Turks again, the French and the British. No Muslim leader ever tried to destroy it, until now.  History is being misappropriated for mindless destruction.


I realize that it’s been several months since I posted on this blog. Partially, I’ve been busy. Also there didn’t seem to be any widespread panic in the media about the earth being hit by a meteor or a long-vanished culture predicting the return of the dinosaurs and so I got busy with other things, like (ahem) my new book, DEFENDING THE CITY OF GOD.
This book was begun as an investigation into life in the Crusader States between the waves of invasions from the east and west. I emphasize the interactions among the newcomers and those whose ancestors had lived there since before history was recorded. Also, I did my best to fill in the gaps left by later historians who weren’t interested in the lives of women, farmers or craftspeople.
As I researched and wrote, the Arab Spring began. As I continued, I had to keep checking to be sure that I was commenting on the past and not the present. In vain, I pointed out that the current uprisings were nothing new, just better recorded. Rarely were medieval sieges and invasions motivated solely by religion. The proof of this is the number of alliances between European Christians and Turkish Muslims, both newcomers. I also looked at something that we in the West are just picking up on, the number of communities of people who follow religions that are early Christian, Muslim splinter groups or faiths that combine bits from many sources. I found echoes of ancient prejudices in the news every day.
But now things have come to such a pass that I can’t find a medieval comparison. What’s happening now is much worse than anything that happened during the crusades. Again, I don’t think religion has anything to do with the upswing in violence and intolerance. But I do believe that there are parallels with the Crusaders moving in during a power vacuum and ISIS or ISIL or whatever, doing the same thing in the same place. What I don’t know is whether or not they will adapt to the culture as the Crusaders did or if they will be the trigger that brings about the end of everything.
Cheery, isn’t it?