Monday, December 26, 2005

The Beautiful Flowers in the Garden

It's difficult to keep the history of Christians in Iraq straight. As I understand it, there are two main sects, the Assyrians and the Chaldeans. I've also met a couple of Christian Iraqis who said that they were Armenian, and another who said she was Eastern Orthodox.

There's also a community of Dominicans. I don't know where they fit in theologically, but they are active. I met with one of the friars, who is planning to create the first Open University In Iraq to provide a free, secular, adult education. The friar was enthusiastic that his new institution would stem extremism in Iraq.

Most Iraqi Christians, who comprise a significant portion of our local staff, will quickly mention their religion to me. I am told that in the "Christian" language, which is probably Assyrian, my first name translates to mean "have" if you place an emphasis on the first vowel.

Some Christians have positive things to say about Saddam, besides his ability to maintain stability in Iraq. Once, Saddam allegedly was asked how he felt about Christian emigration from Iraq. He said that it would be as if all the beautiful flowers in a garden were suddenly picked from him. Most Christians seem to believe this account is accurate, but I haven't been able to find reference of it anywhere.


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