Middle East

For those who don’t know about it and may be interested, I have just watched the trailer and two extracts (here and here) from Xavier Beauvois’ film Of Gods and men which I gather has been showing in Europe and the USA. I’ve no idea if it will be coming to South Africa, but, if not, I hope that I get to see it somehow.

There are also reviews in the Guardian and the New York Times.

The film deals with the 1996 martyrdom of the Cistercian community of Our Lady of the Atlas in Tibhirine, Algeria, an event that has deeply affected many people, including myself.  (There is also helpful material here from the author of The Monks of Tibhirine, including extracts from his book).

Update: For those who read French, after posting this I discovered a recent interview with Brother Jean-Pierre, one of the two monks who survived attack, in Le Figaro. I ‘ve only skimmed through it, but it certainly looks worth reading.

Another update: It turns out that it is showing in South Africa and I saw it on Friday night. I won’t say more now as it triggered emotions that I don’t really want to speak about online, but it was definitely very good, and an accurate reflection of the events (although I do agree with the Guardian reviewer that the refectory scene was a bit over the top). In any case, please do go and see it if you possibly can!

If I were still Catholic I suppose I should be singing the Te Deum like they do when a pope is elected. Not sure what to do now, but I presume that the basic principle is the same. I’ve just seen that Mubarak has resigned (see here, here and here). I know that lots of questions remain, among them whether this popular “secular” space that has opened up in the Middle East can continue. But I’m still overwhelmed that such change is possible, a bit like Madiba being released, the Berlin wall coming down and so on.

I don’t have time now to discuss the more serious questions about Christians in the Middle East (and I kept toying with posting something after the attack at the beginning of January but decided not to because of the complexities involved), but for those interested who haven’t seen it, you might want to look at this article on Christians and Moslems in Egypt which provides a slightly different perspective to some of the western Christian voices one hears on the topic.

Update: This is also worth reading.