The Last Armenian Church in Myanmar: A Follow-Up

From First Thoughts

A follow-up to last month’s post on the Armenian Orthodox church in Myanmar: This summer, the BBC did a lovely story about a 150-year old Armenian parish church in the city of Yangon, St. John the Baptist. Hardly any parishioners remained, the BBC said, maybe 10 people on a good Sunday. Most of the congregation were not Armenians, either, the Armenians having left Myanmar, with the British, decades before. Continue Reading »

What Old Age Has to Offer

From First Thoughts

In a much-discussed Atlantic essay, “Why I Hope to Die at 75,” Ezekiel Emanuel—physician, public commentator, and prominent supporter of the Affordable Care Act—argues that we’d all be better off if we died at 75. That way, we would escape the debility and indignity that accompany old age and avoid being burdens to our children and other loved ones. And we would have the solace of not outliving our productivity. After all, he writes, “by 75, creativity, originality, and productivity are pretty much gone for the vast, vast majority of us.” Emanuel has no plan to commit suicide if he reaches 75, he says. But he plans to reject all medical treatments, even routine ones, that go beyond the palliative. Continue Reading »

A Sad Episode

From First Thoughts

This week in Washington, a major conference took place on the persecution of Mideast Christians. The conference brought together Christians from around the region, including many church hierarchs. Many of the attendees had experienced Islamist persecution firsthand. The overarching theme was unity, and the overall purpose was to raise awareness about what Christians in the region are going through. Continue Reading »

The President’s Speech

From First Thoughts

In his address to the nation Wednesday night, President Barack Obama committed the U.S. to doing something about ISIS—aka the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or just the Islamic State—the Salafist group that has taken over about a third of both those countries. The goal, the president said, is to “degrade, and ultimately destroy” the group, through airstrikes and support for Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces, as well as elements of the Syrian opposition. The U.S. will also send an additional 475 military advisers to the region. But no combat troops—the president was clear about that. Continue Reading »

U.S. Rescues Turkmen—Christians Still Waiting

From First Thoughts

This past weekend, the United States intervened to rescue some 15,000 Shia Turkmen trapped in the northern Iraqi city of Amerli. ISIS, the Sunni Islamist group, had besieged the city for three months, and residents were without electricity and running low on food, water, and necessary medical supplies. So, on Saturday, American planes dropped more than a hundred bundles of emergency supplies to the Turkmen. British, French, and Australian military aircraft also dropped supplies. Continue Reading »