Race Is On to Save Chaldean Christian Culture From ISIS Destruction

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By Felix N. Codilla III , Christian Post Contributor
The dwindling number of Chaldean Christians in Iraq has raised concerns about the need to preserve the culture of the once thriving religion which the Islamic State is bent on wiping out. Dr. Shawqi Talia, a lecturer on Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures at the Catholic University of America is on the quest to preserve the history and culture of Chaldeans Catholics before it completely vanishes so that their meaning can be passed on to the succeeding generations.

Reuters/Thomas PeterPeople hold crosses and signs during a rally organized by Iraqi Christians living in Germany denouncing what they say is repression by the Islamic State militant group against Christians living in Iraq, in Berlin, Aug. 17, 2014.

This he does by asking the community to share their memories and descriptions through the rich Middle Eastern tradition of storytelling delivered in their own native Arabic and Neo-Aramaic languages — some of them singing and speaking the same language Christ himself used.

Talia, who is himself a Chaldean, wanted young people “to know how life was and what life was all about for the Christians – not just up north but in Iraq as a whole – in the ’50s and the ’40s and the ’30s, and to know that our history goes back for 2,000 years.”

This will be done by putting together materials and records of various kinds of the life of Christian communities in the Middle East. The objective is to let Chaldeans, who are now beginning to scatter around the world, to still be able to see the stories, songs, histories and memories of the faith that they observed in their home country.

Iraq’s Chaldeans are considered one of the oldest communities. About 1.5 million of them thrived at the time of Saddam Hussein’s overthrow. In the wake of church burnings, kidnappings and the slaughter of Christians by Muslims, their numbers have shrunk to 300,000. They now account for 40 percent of Iraq’s refugees.

Talia’s team has begun interviewing Iraqi Christians communities in Washington D.C. where some 150,000 Chaldeans live. They plan to do the same to communities in Europe and elsewhere. The interviews will be compiled in a documentary which will be funded by the Michigan Humanities Council.

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Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/race-is-on-to-save-chaldean-christian-culture-from-isis-destruction-188681/#ECqdti6XyFV53O2R.99