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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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One Big Mac and a Medium Fries for Jesus

Sometimes the Christian publishing industry seems to descend to self-parody.

This month Thomas Nelson publishes The What Would Jesus Eat Cookbook, with “healthy, hearty recipes featuring foods that Jesus Himself would have eaten”.

Not everyone is applauding.

According to an acerbic report in the “Religion Line” email newsletter of Publishers Weekly, the book is “short on recipes for locusts and honey, but long on Mediterranean-influenced cuisine…. So in addition to more traditional dishes like hummus and Egyptian rice with lentils, [the author] includes recipes with a modern verve, like broiled salmon fillets with fennel sauce, cilantro salsa and melon shakes (leaving the reader to wonder - did Jesus have access to a blender?).”

It is of course popular – fashionable even – to debate what Jesus would or would not do were He back on earth.

I live in an upmarket suburb. One day at a Bible study gathering a friend commented: “If Jesus were back on earth He certainly wouldn’t come to our church. He’d be over in the poor parts of town, mixing with the people in their churches there.” (In fact, at least one commentator has suggested that if Jesus were back on earth He would shun the church altogether and head straight for the nearest synagogue.)

But I think Jesus would visit our church. He might not be too impressed with the odd BMW among the Toyotas, Fords and Hondas. But surely He would rejoice to find a congregation of ordinary people struggling to maintain the faith in a deeply secular environment.

Of course, He would also be found at the poorer quarters. Jesus went wherever people needed reconciliation with God. That meant everywhere in His day, and I feel it would be the same today.

Similarly with food. He fasted and He probably participated in Jewish feasts. Palestinian society in those days was not rich. People ate what they could get. As far as we know, Jesus ate in accordance with the norms of His time.

Diet and a trim figure are modern-day obsessions. I do not find evidence that they were concerns of Jesus. He preached the Kingdom of God and repentance, not weight loss.

Yes, it is surely good to eat healthy food. And current research suggests a “Mediterranean diet” is about as healthy as you can get. But far better to put the stress on leading lives of service, moderation and self-restraint. “Make me more like Jesus,” should be part of the prayers of every Christian. But that involves a transformed heart, not a flatter tummy.

Here is what I wrote nearly three months ago when I started my website:

Jesus preached a message that was revolutionary in its day: love, forgiveness, service, integrity, trust, humility, prayer, compassion, justice, and more. Yet too often in our world today we see self-interest placed ahead of love and compassion, rule by the powerful in place of justice and service, spin instead of honesty and integrity. The message of Jesus has become revolutionary again. Christianity is the new counter-culture.

If Jesus were here again His fiery radicalism would show up our fads and obsessions as trivial pursuits driven by ego and self-absorption. I doubt that He would spend a lot of time worrying about diet. He’d probably eat what everyone else was having.

Sure, He would presumably dine on broiled salmon with fennel sauce if it were served to Him.

I suspect that He would be just as comfortable snacking at the local McDonald’s.

July 5th, 2002

 

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