Culture

Confused About Syria? Who’s Fighting and Why

Tens of thousands are still fleeing this ancient part of the world.

Aleteia:

Syria is a country of mountains, deserts and fertile plains, bordering Lebanon, the Mediterranean Sea, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, and Israel. The country is largely populated by Sunni Muslims, but is also home to many other ethnic and religious groups: Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, and Circassians, Christians, Shiites, Alawites, Druze, Mandeans, Salafis, and Yazidis.

The war in Syria has killed over 250,000 people and displaced over 12 million. Just today, tens of thousands are reported to be fleeing Aleppo with just the clothes on their backs, due to a  government offensive on rebel-held areas south of the city.

Although it began as a civil war, it has become much more and divided much of the Middle East, drawing in the United States and Russia. To better understand how Syria arrived to where it is today, Vox put together this simple video.


 

Church

The Surprising Rise of Christianity in Russia

Mystic Post with an interesting read for a Sunday afternoon:

With America clearly in mind, Vladimir Putin recently declared: “In many countries today, moral and ethical norms are being reconsidered. They’re now requiring not only the proper acknowledgment of freedom of conscience, political views and private life, but also the mandatory acknowledgment of the equality of good and evil.” Putin believes in sin and that morality is not a relative moving target that is determined by the dominate culture of the time. In Putin’s world – his Christian world – there are consequences to moral behavior – there is a right and a wrong.

Putin’s words on faith have surprised the world…

Read on here.

 

Church

Priest Blesses Missiles To Be Used For Airstrikes

In Syria:

Actually, it looks like a Bishop…

In the above photo, an Orthodox priest blesses Russian missiles intended for airstrikes against Syrian rebels. According to Reuters reporter Noah Browning, the priest is sprinkling holy water on the missile before it is put aboard a Russian plane.

The blessing of missiles comes after Patriarch Kirill, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, declared that Russia’s intervention in Syria, which is aimed at the rebels currently aligned against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is a “holy battle.”

More here.

War. And the need to formulate a proper Christian response. One that is consistent. Sanctifying war? Surely, it cannot be so…

Church

Will Russia’s ‘holy war’ save Syria’s Christians?

In the Catholic Herald:

Vladimir Putin has outfoxed the West in the Middle East
(AP)

The war in Syria has taken a significant turn these past few months, with the migrant crisis and the intervention of Russia. Even a few months ago one might have expected Bashar al-Assad’s downfall, and two years ago one would have bet the house on it.

Now, with the refugee crisis seriously threatening Europe’s governments and the almost comic ineffectiveness of American-trained Syrian rebels, Western leaders seem resigned to accepting Russian’s involvement and some sort of truce that allows Assad to stay.

Whatever one thinks of Vladimir Putin, he has certainly outplayed Barack Obama in Syria…

Read on here.