Friday, June 11, 2010

March #2

The Latest From Iraq


I am still here languishing in Baghdad. (Just kidding-it isn't really that bad.) I am kept busy working as a chaplain. We have Ugandans who work here as guards with us. Many of the Ugandans are devout Christians. I distributed Bibles to them and they were very excited. For many of them, it was the first time that they were able to own their own personal copy of the Holy Bible. I need your prayers as I minister to these soldiers. It seems like when I have counseling-it is like all day long and it's a little draining some times. We had the election here and it seemed to go very well. 39 people were murdered because they voted. Despite the threats, the voter turnout was relatively high, over 60% of the registered voters voted. That is much higher than our mid-term election and is probably higher than our turnout in the states for presidential elections. We heard a lot of explosions and gunfire that day. Actually, here you hear gunfire and explosions all the time-you kind of just tone it out. It is hard to tell if it is hostile fire or our soldiers at the ranges or OED disposing of explosives.


The Academy Awards


Hollywood is dominated by the radical left. Last year they gave the Academy Award for "best picture" for a film called "Milk" which was about a homosexual politician. Maybe the Academy is starting to be concerned about how they are beginning to be perceived as extremely left-wing political. So, this year the "Best Picture" award went to "The Hurt Locker," a movie about the Iraq war. Now, some soldiers have mixed feelings about this movie. There are some inaccuracies. I was in Iraq when this movie is set 2004. That year we wore the DCU uniform-which is the Desert Combat Uniform. Now we wear the ACU-the army combat uniform, which the soldiers are portrayed as wearing. So, this is an anachronism. (This uniform may possibly be phased out soon, since soldiers complained that the ACU was not providing concealment in Afghanistan and was leading to soldiers getting killed. In Afghanistan the uniform is being replaced-but not in Iraq.) Also, the main soldier is a thrill seeker who puts his buddies in harms way. That type of behavior is frowned upon. However, Hollywood has put out a huge number of movies that portray American soldiers as monsters or were anti-Amercian and anti-War (Rendition, Redaction, Lions for Lambs, The Valley of Elah, the Messenger, the Battle for Haditha, Avatar, ect.) "The Hurt Locker" portrays American soldiers as heroes and shows what kind of cruel and inhumane people Islamic terrorists are. "The Blind Side" basically a Christian movie-won "best actress" for Sandra Bullock. It is good to see some Christian movies made and widely released at long last. I think we are in a culture war-and a culture war must be fought and won through culture-movies, tv shows, books, art, ect. A movie about "Solomon Kane" has just come out. Solomon Kane was like one of my heroes growing up. He is a puritan avenger. The movie was well done. I saw a pirated copy here. He battles demonic forces in the film, which is what he does in some of the stories by Robert E. Howard and in the comic books. In the film, however, Solomon Kane earns God's redemption through protecting the innocent. As a puritan he would have believed that redemption is received by faith in Jesus Christ and cannot be earned.


The Assyrians

An Indigenous Ethnic Christian Group of Iraq

(Part 2 of 4)

By Chaplain (1LT) Stephen Andrew Missick


Assyrian Beginnings


Every February, Assyrians celebrate a holiday called "the Rogation of the Ninevites" in which they remember the repentance of their ancient Assyrian ancestors at the preaching of the prophet Jonah as is recorded in the Old Testament. According to accounts written by the early church fathers, Mesopotamian Christianity was established by the Apostles Saint Thomas ("doubting Thomas") and the Apostle Thaddeus. The account is that Saint Thaddeus and Saint Mari preached to King Abgar of Edessa and then traveled throughout Mesopotamia preaching the Gospel. The Assyrians use the Divine Liturgy of Mari and Thaddeus, which is one of the oldest liturgies than is currently in use in the world. Many important early church fathers and theologians composed important theological and historical books in the Syriac language.


The Assyrian Church:


The Assyrian Church has been called the Nestorian Church in the past. Assyrians even called themselves Nestorians until fairly recently. The proper name for this church is "the Church of the East." Nestorius (circa 386-circa 451 A.D.) was a Patriarch of Constantinople who was deposed and condemned as a heretic for teaching that Jesus Christ had two separate natures, a human nature and a divine nature. This led to considerable controversy in the early church. Eventually, the church declared that Christ has two natures but they are united. This controversy split the church into several factions, Nestorians, Monophysites and the orthodox Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox. (The Monophysites deny Christ has two natures. They teach that he has one divine nature. The Coptic, Ethiopic, Syrian Orthodox and Armenian Church are Monophysite. They now seem to be objecting to the term "Monophysites" and prefer to be referred to as Henophysites. ) These old Christological controversies may seem very arcane and irrelevant, but they are very important to Eastern Christians and are very important to understand when relating to Eastern Christians, especially for clergy.) The Assyrian Church of the East is Trinitarian and the Nicene Creed is recited during Holy Communion. In the course of ecumenical dialogue, the Roman Catholic Church has declared that it no longer views the Church of the East as heretical. The term "Nestorian" could possibly be viewed as pejorative or derogatory and should be avoided when speaking to Assyrians. (It may be helpful when writing books and articles when referring to the Church of the East to note for clarification that it was known as the Nestorian Church. But this title is no longer proper terminology.) Some Assyrians object to being called "Nestorian" for the following reasons. First, Nestorius didn't found their church, the Holy Apostles did hundreds of years before Nestorius. Secondly, although they did accept "Nestorian" theologians, neither they nor Nestorius, ever taught the "Nestorian" heresy ( the heresy that Jesus Christ is composed of two persons-the human and the divine).


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