Saturday, December 29, 2007

Cognitive Dissonance

With all the blather in the media about what a horrible Islamic theocratic dictatorship Iran is; about how insane its current President is (He denies the Holocaust! He wants to destroy Israel!); with our news media playing this game of pretending Iran is building a huge arsenal of nuclear weapons to bring the United States to its knees; it is nice to see images of ordinary Iranians actually engaged in ordinary things. Some of those Iranians are Christians. Some of those ordinary things include celebrating Christmas.

I know that it is hard to wrap one's mind around the fact that Iran is a pluralistic democracy, but it is. I also know that it is hard to wrap one's mind around the fact that, while titularly a Republic, Iran is in fact a kind of constitutional monarchy, with the Ayatollah (currently Khameini) a kind of de facto king, primer inter pares. I know that it is difficult to wrap one's mind around the fact that minority religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism, are legally protected in Iran. We have been fed so much crap over the past 28 years about Iran that discovering the reality that is very modern Iran is a bit like discovering the fact that Santa Claus doesn't exist; it upsets the equilibrium one has maintained about the world.

I chose this photo, from Photo Activists for Peace, because it shows a beautiful church with full pews. There are other photos there - including one of children visiting Santa Claus - that show how ordinary Iranian Christmas traditions are. Contrasting the life of Iranian Christians with that of the now non-existent Iraqi Christian community (even during the height of the medieval caliphate and Crusades, there were thriving Christian and Jewish communities in Baghdad) is even more important now, as the Bush Administration seems hell-bent on bombing Iran for no reason; we know what has been wrought in Iraq by our Commander-in-Chief's ability to destroy everything he touches, so it might be a good idea to download some of these photos because if Bush has his way, Iranian Christianity might just end up going the way of the dinosaur and Iraqi Christianity.

A generous h/t to Fire Dog Lake; photo courtesy of Photo Activists for Peace.

Virtual Tin Cup

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