Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream.
(Photo: Getty Images/Ellen van Bodegom)
Maybe you’ve fantasized about living out your days in a Mediterranean villa.
You might have even gone so far as to check listings before the reality of your
bank account forced you to give up on the dream.
Well, despair no longer.
One town on the Italian island of Sardinia is offering the real estate deal of a
lifetime, as long as you’re willing to stick around for the long haul.
In Ollolai, one of several hundred historic homes could be yours for just $1.25 (€1).
Mayor Efisio Arbau successfully petitioned local residents to turn over their
abandoned homes in the town,
which then put them on the market for the attention-grabbing low price.
The aggressive real estate blitz is an effort to prevent a town known for its
successful resistance to the Roman Empire from fading into obscurity.
The village’s population has shrunk from 2,250 to 1,300 over the years,
and the migration of its younger people to larger cities has led to a declining birthrate.
“My crusade is to rescue our unique traditions from falling into oblivion,”
Arbau told CNN.
“We’ve always been tough people and won’t allow our town to die.”
as seen on Conde Nast Traveler / CNN Travel
I always love these stories—the ones about the small tranquil village that has witnessed
a tremendous decline in its inhabitants and in turn makes almost outlandish sales offers
in hopes of luring would-be occupants and potential citizens to come own, inhabit and live,
all at very little expense, for a piece of paradise.
And we know that the reasons for these villages slow deaths are for all sorts of troubles…
families move, youth…when grown…move-out and away,
and the Old…well they have simply died…
And so now all these small communities, all over the globe, begin to slowly shrivel up and die…
The young see no growth, no fun, no potential, no reason to stay.
Young families have no real choice in schooling or sound medical care.
Those trying to make a living and livelihood discover that such is nearly nonexistent…
while the Old have hung on for as long as they can, yet are now dying off in large numbers…
It is the visual death knell sounding for small communities worldwide.
And yet there is a real desire that these communities remain for they have existed for eons…
they have been the underpinning, the lynchpins, of our greater society as a whole…
And of course, the catch for the potential buyer is always the caveat of remodeling
and pouring copious amounts of cash into the refurbishing of said piece of paradise.
But I’ll admit, the allure of buying a piece of paradise for all of a buck is pretty darn
appealing…however it’s the copious amounts of cash needed for the remodeling, modernizing
and upkeep that is the killer of the dream.
And so I bring all of this up as I’m still making my way through Andreas Knapp’s book
The Last Christians…Stories of Persecution, Flight, Resilience in the Middle East.
You may remember it was the book that my publishing friend from Plough Publishing House
sent out for my perusal back around Christmas.
It’s not a long book and you’d think I would have finished it ages ago,
but it is a book that demands my full attention—
especially since I take highlighter in hand as I read, along with a notepad
as I make notes while reading.
I cover only a few pages or a chapter a day here and there as time allows…
For meatier stories demand our utmost attention…and this is such a tale because the
subjects of this story deserve nothing less.
And it is not an easy read—it is not easy reading about persecution, murders, terror,
I was struck by what Mayor Efisio Arbauin said in the Conde Nast / CNN article
about why he wants to maintain his dying village in Sardinia.
“the aggressive real estate blitz is an effort to prevent a town known
for its successful resistance to the Roman Empire from fading into obscurity.”
Advertise like crazy as we want to maintain an ancient town that stood up against
an aggressive, mighty, powerful and brutal empire…
And yet I marvel at how the world at large will allow the last remaining true
Aramaic Christians, who trace their lineage, which in turn is our lineage,
back to Jesus himself–a world that will allow, nay is allowing,
these Aramaic Christians to be tortured, murdered,
disbanded, scattered and ultimately totally destroyed and wiped from the face of the Earth.
Read the following excerpt offered by the book’s author Fr Knapp along with a
priest and Bishop Petros Mouche who is the leading prelate of a
dispersed and disparaged people:
“Many people in Western countries, he points out, campaign for the protection of
animal species threatened with extinction.
And yet all appeals to halt the loss of the oldest Christian
Culture and its people and language have been ignored by the Western World”
(Bishop Petros Mouche displaced Syriac Catholic)
A young priest along with the Bishop both relate their tales of horror to the author
“He who says nothing implies consent”
“How can we rebuild our trust?”
We can’t simply forget what happened.
And how can there be reconciliation with our Muslim neighbors when they haven’t expressed
the slightest regret?
Indeed will Muslims ever be capable of acknowledging any guilt toward us Christians?
Bishop Petros intervenes quietly at this point: “In times like these, we ourselves
can experience feelings of aggression.
We must overcome them.
It is God’s will that we should love our enemies.
I am silent, left speechless by his stance in the face of such a brutal reality.
He shakes his head thoughtfully.
“We can’t just forget what has happened.
But we will ask God to forgive the offenders
and lead them to think differently.”
Still, the white-haired bishop’s face betrays a deep anguish.
With this last oasis of Iraqi Christianity now under IS control,
and a nearly two-thousand-year-old
local church reduced to rubble, Qaraqosh is like a ghost town.
Bishop Petros is especially troubled by the fate of a three-year-old girl and some
young women abducted from the Christian villages of the Nineveh Plain who–
like the Yazidi women-face sexual abuse, forced marriages with
Islamic fighters and slavery.
Bishop Petros told me of one eighty-year-old man who asked the terrorists why there wouldn’t
spare his family any food for the children;
their response was to hack off his hands and feet.
And yet the Bishop states that “they may have lost everything else,
but they have never lost their faith.”
What will the world be willing to offer in order to save these last Christians?
What will Christians be willing to offer in order to save these ancient brothers and sisters?
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character;
and character, hope.
And hope does not put us to shame,
because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit,
who has been given to us.