Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday: Two Weeks: Still No Word . . . And Increasing Tension

I heard tonight (as I do every twenty-four hours) from the wife of my friend Shubbar. After two weeks, there has still been no word about her husband. Nor have family members been able to get word to him. The crackdown on the Shiite community continues unabated, as she makes clear in this message sent tonight:

It is 3.00 a.m and thank God they did not come. But they attacked our village with tear gas and Bang Grenades; my kids couldn't sleep until very recently because they were scared of the sound. As we are at home, tear gas comes inside the houses but with a very little degree. All this is done by the security accompanied by troops to scare people and prevent them from sleeping.
Until today, I don't know anything about my husband. Today professional people were arrested, a doctor, two nurses (females) and other young people (6 or 7). Still, the hospitals and clinics are besieged and people cannot go to receive treatment. On the national TV, it was stated that 51 of University of Bahrain's employees were sacked because they took part in the protests in the roundabout. Many students will also be kicked off the university but the number is not known yet. The ministry of education said that the teachers who took part in the strike were 7000 teachers; so I wonder whether all will be sacked as well. It is worth mentioning that all sacked people are Shiites only. Today they also attacked an elementary school to arrest two teachers but after two hours they were released.
Today, the troops destroyed three mosques in different place, and by this we have 18 mosques destroyed by cranes; all are Shiite mosques. [Several other sources have mentioned the destruction of mosques.]
Tomorrow the strike will begin and many are taking part in the activity.

As an employee of the University, Shubbar's wife is very concerned about her own safety. She said in an earlier message that the Bahrain state TV was singling out people at the university today, so she was worried that she might be arrested tonight.

It's hard to imagine how the situation in Bahrain could turn out well. There seems to be little hope.

But as the Christian world enters into Holy Week, I'm reminded that Jesus and his followers appeared to have been defeated in this week. By Friday, Jesus was dead and his disciples were in hiding. All hope was lost.

But, it turned out by Easter Sunday, passage through death was the way to life; defeat was the way to victory; laying down one's life was the way to gaining it; washing the feet of the lowly was the way to being glorified; betrayal was the way to community; turning aside from power was the way to gaining it; loving one's life meant losing it, and giving up one's life meant gaining eternal life.

As Jesus said early in Holy Week:
The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life (John 12:23-25). 
Thinking of the Holy Week drama, John Howard Yoder wrote in The Politics of Jesus that the cross was not just a detour or a hurdle or even the way to the Kingdom. Rather, it was the paradoxical Kingdom come. The rule of God came through submission and self-giving service.

In some mysterious way, then, we have to hope that God can work even through the most destructive work of the Powers. I'm praying that the self-destruction of Bahrain might eventually produce many seeds of justice. And I'm waiting impatiently for those seeds of justice to start blooming . . . soon!

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