From Jew To Assyrian
Posted by parhad on July 06, 2001 at 11:24:47:
If I were a Jew and went to a rabbi and said I wanted to make a monument honoring our Jewish heritage. His reaction could be, "Great, let me get out my Torah and
we'll pick a figure." Any person or incident we might choose from that book, as far back as Jews recorded their history, would be fine with the both of us. Any figure
we chose would have resonance with the congregation at the synagogue as well as the Jewish parliament, Jewish military, business leaders, academicians, soccer
players, hookers, you name it.
The characters from the Holy Book were at one and the same time religious and political and military etc. My point is there would be no disconnect in the line of
Jews that stretches back to the very beginning of their recorded history. Hell, even their god is a Jew, exclusively theirs and with a special interest in them over all the
people of this earth.
As an Assyrian...whom do I approach? If I go to the priest at the local church, I've made my first blunder. Which church would I go to? Church of the East?
Jacobite, Chaldean, Lutheran, Presbyterian? Assuming I chose the right one, what would I say to the priest? From which book would we pull worthy subjects?
From the same bible? Would he encourage me to make a monument of Solomon, of David, of Rachael? If the New Testament would I do Christ (can't get Him put
up in any city), one of the apostles...are any of them Assyrian? If I make a monument of the Assyrians mentioned in the bible, in what attitude would I show them?
Should I show them chastising the Jews, like some hit man? Shall I show them spat up by a fish? Shall I show them forlorn and desolate, eating grass like animals
amidst the ruins of their cities?
I couldn't go to any of our churches for another reason. Anything I wanted to do would be considered political. We have separated the political, from the military,
from the religious. To the Jews every hero and king and leader and traitor and whore practically, are also religious figures written down in their bible. There is no
disconnect in their history, it is all one cohesive whole. I can't offend a rabbi by making a sculpture of Solomon. He wont tell me it is a "political" figure and therefore
of no interest to the religious people..."better do a saint or prophet".
For us also, as Assyrians, there would have been no disconnect previous to the Great Betrayal...the time when we dropped our own cohesiveness and followed the
religion of others. Any king of ours was also, as with the Hebrews, head priest of the religion as well...and also commander of the army, and very often the leading
cultural and intellectual figure, at least insofar as most kings wanted to buiild and adorn, and you need the Arts to do that.
After the Great Betrayal we split off into a religion, and nothing else. Our religion told us nothing else was necessary. Our aim being all on the heavens, what did we
need with anything except the one person who could tell us how to get into heaven?
As a sculptor, or composer, or anything else, if I want to deal in "Assyrian" themes, I have to first figure out what that means. If I go by what the church says, then
unlike the Synagogue, I will have to limit the field to exclusively and narrowly defined religious figures. If I choose any other type of Assyrian, especially from the
period before the Great Betrayal, I will lose the interest and support of the church, earning their condemnation too probably.
To a Jew there is no break in his history, there is no time "before" or after. There are certainly watershed years and events of great import...but there is no wholesale
shift at the very core of the people and their relgion and traditions. With us there is a before and an after. Before we became Christian and after we were through
being Assyrian in religion. You can see what an integral part of their entire being the Jewish faith is. It was that way with us. To have made such a basic and
fundamental shift away from our very core foundation, as old if not older than that of the Jews, cannot help but have thrown us off course significantly.
Look around you, are we headed to any promised land? Are we protecting our own Holy Land of BetNahrain? Or are we rather not helping destroy it, while paying
to preserve the holy land of the Jews, Israel, where the birthplace and every significant incident in the life of "our" lord took place?
In more ways than one, our adoption of Christianity, a religion born in what is Israel today, shifted our focus away from the lands of our fathers and mothers, to the
land of the Jews. If an Assyrian Christian wishes to retrace the footsteps of the most revered and greatest figure he recognises in all of history, will he go back to
walk along the banks of the Tigris, or will he weep to contemplate the Jordan River? Will the plain of Nineveh and the villages scattered thereabouts call to him, or
will he walk between Jerusalem and Nazareth and Bethlehem?
We are giving far more aid, in every way, to the Jews today than to anything "Assyrian". But then again, we did go running off after a Jew who promised us an
eternity to contemplate our perfidy in. We are earning it every day.