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Coptic Martyr

The Coptic Martyr of Cairo

The latest international thriller from best-selling author Martin Roth

Four Americans in Egypt on an archaeological dig. In the blistering summer heat they are fighting amongst themselves. Then they unearth a body. It is an old priest who has been murdered.

The gruesome discovery sets in train a sequence of events that leads to a deadly Islamist attack on the ancient church where the Americans are working.

The leader of the expedition, Professor Rafa Harel, must decide whether to withdraw his fractious team or continue on a mission to unveil a controversial series of wall paintings, knowing that these images have the power to spark even greater violence.

Meanwhile, watching over all of them is a dreamy young Egyptian Christian named Amir. His only quest in life is to become a martyr...

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War, Just War and Christians

Some reflections:

* Anti-American sentiment is apparently rising fast in South Korea. My wife is Korean. A few days ago one of her best friends said: “It’s good news that North Korea has a nuclear bomb. They won’t use it on South Korea, and it’ll make America less arrogant.” It seems this feeling is quite widespread in South Korea. Scary.

* World War II was generally seen as a just war (at least, if you were on the side of the Allies). But, since then, many church leaders have affirmed that the introduction of nuclear weapons makes it impossible to label as “just” any war at all, because of the risk of nuclear conflict. Here’s a suggestion: the advent of new high-tech, precision weaponry – used in the last conflict against Iraq and in Afghanistan – has reintroduced proportionality to warfare. Might it not be time for these church leaders to give war a chance?

* When you start reading your Bible you have trouble finding where the concept of a just war derives. As I wrote a few days ago, in my commentary Just War, Christians and Iraq – Where Is the Justice in Not Attacking?, “it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that Christian just war theory is simply an attempt to circumvent the clear teachings of Jesus”.

* And yet God loves soldiers. As in Old Testament days, He still apparently guides troops in battle.

* I have been fascinated to read the doctoral thesis of Father Patrick Dolan, a chaplain to the Kentucky National Guard. (Titled “Just War Theory in the Gulf War Debate”, it is not available commercially, or online, but is apparently found in many seminary libraries.) Writing about the last Gulf conflict, he says:

The use of power, whether it be economic or military, served a spiritual purpose: it communicated with Iraq and its people in their own spiritual language. Some have claimed that different world cultures value different spiritual entities. Some examples include…South Americans and other Latin cultures treasuring friendship of one who is simpatico while Northern Europeans and North Americans reverence truths….Power is the spiritual language of the Middle East. It is not just an acquiescence to a “might makes right” state of affairs; it is a reverencing of power – a holy attribute – as a sharing in one characteristic of “the Almighty One”.

Military power as spiritual language! That’s something church leaders anywhere can understand.

November 1st, 2002


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