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Salma goes Sodom PDF Print E-mail

What on earth connects excessive Bible reading with the career of the Mexican movie star Salma Hayek? The small tragicomic story below does the whole trick. And what a great opportunity it is to illustrate a thousand words with just one picture of peaceful Salma. 

What follows happened some time ago in the Flemish town of Mechelen, Belgium. This place has become the new hometown for Christian refugees from SE Turkey. They call themselves Assyrian or Chaldean Christians and they were evicted from their villages in the last decades of the twentieth century. They had no choice at all, they were trapped in the middle of the dirty war that was - and still is - raging between the Turkish army and the guerrilla-fighters of the Kurdish PKK. When bulls are fighting in the swamp, the frogs get trampled to death. This is exactly what happened to the Assyrian Christians in that war zone close to the Iraqi border.

Assyrian Christians in Mechelen consider themselves the victims of intolerance. They are different, they say. They are neither Turkish nor Kurdish, they are the last survivors of an Aramaic speaking Christian minority among the Muslims of the Middle East. They are right. But this does not always prevent some of them from integrating biblical forms of intolerance into their new way of life in Mechelen. It is a sad thing when ultimate truth is reduced to one source beyond suspicion. Jews and Christians and Muslims are people of the Book. Strictly orthodox Jews and Islamic radicals stick to the Truth revealed in the one and only Book that matters, and this seems to be true as well for some Assyrian Christians in Mechelen. They only rely on the Bible. It can lead to remarkable requests.

Some time ago a certain clergyman living in Mechelen contacted me. He had a problem, he explained. Some members of his small parish were Christian refugees, Assyrian villagers from the region of Mount Judi in SE Turkey. Our clergyman organized Bible readings, which were attended by these Assyrians. He was a modern and open-minded preacher of the message of Christ and he was shocked by the extreme viewpoints of his Assyrian disciples. According to them all forms of homosexual or lesbian behaviour were absolutely horrible in the eyes of God Almighty. Such sinners, gay and lesbian people, would burn in hell and any decent community, in Mechelen and everywhere else on the world, should treat them as outcasts. Why? it was written in the Bible, they said, and so there could be no doubt about it.

Sodom revisited - a biblical impression

Genesis 19. Wicked people were living in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot and his family were the only exception. God sent two messengers, angels disguised as men, to Sodom. Lot received them with the greatest possible hospitality. He gave them food and shelter and protected them against the wicked ones of Sodom, male inhabitants who had gathered at his house and wanted to do their worst with Lot's guests. He even proposed to bring out his two daughters, both virgins, and let the men of Sodom have sex with them, if only they would leave his guests in peace. The men of Sodom however threatened to break into his house. The two angels pulled Lot back inside the house and they struck the men of Sodom with blindness. God's wrath descended upon Sodom and its wicked population, the whole city was destroyed by fire from heaven. Crime and punishment on the spot, according to the Assyrian Bible-readers, and the same fate awaited all sodomites even today.

What was the request of our clergyman in Mechelen? He wanted to confront the Assyrians of his parish with gay and lesbian folk and he hoped that such direct contact would finally, maybe after repeated meetings, long conversations and critical disputes, incite his Assyrians to become more tolerant towards them. He asked me if I happened to know any homosexuals or lesbians, even Assyrian ones, who would be prepared to out themselves in front of an audience of strict Bible-believers, i.e. the Assyrian members of his parish. I said I was very sorry I couldn't help him, he almost asked for the impossible. He was sorry too and so we said good-bye and went our separate ways. But I couldn't help thinking that his problem would last as long as he kept focusing on reading the Bible with his Assyrian Christians. 

Most Assyrian Christians in Mechelen intermarry. In this way they stay within their own community and according to them this guarantees the survival of their oriental Christian values and saves them from all kinds of perfidious impurity caused by mixed blood. Perhaps I should have told the good clergyman with his impossible request what could be done in order to solve his problem at least to some extent. Here it is. Our preacher should gather his Assyrians around him and then pronounce this amazing statement, loud and clear: 'My dearly beloved brethren, please, stop reading just one book, even if it is our Holy Book. Look around you and discover that mixed and multicoloured world of ours, real life is here and now, heaven can wait. Amen to that.' And then he would have to show them a picture and declare: 'Enjoy man-made paradise, behold its beauty as long as it lasts.' It would be a picture of actress Salma Hayek. His Assyrians might stone him to death on the spot for this blasphemy. Or they might praise the Lord for Salma's amazing grace and try to lead an easier life, less tormented by intolerance.

Salma Hayek - Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Actress Salma Hayek leads the way. She was born in Mexico from parents with mixed cultural and ethnic background. Her Mexican mother was an opera singer, her father was a wealthy businessman with Lebanese roots. He gave his daughter her first name Salma, which means peaceful in Arabic. Salma Hayek was raised in this rich and very Christian family. When she was twelve, she was sent to the Catholic Academy of the Sacred Heart in Louisiana, USA. Due to her inappropriate behaviour, as the nuns running this elite school labelled it, she had to leave and went to live with her aunt in Houston, Texas. Then she started studying in Mexico City at the Ibero-American University, a private institution sponsored by the Jesuits. Would the sign of the Catholic cross spread its light on her future destiny? On the contrary. To her family's surprise she dropped out of college and started acting in motion pictures. The roles she played in some of these films could hardly be called Catholic acting. In From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) she was a kind of female vampire, performing an erotic dance with a snake. In Frida (2002) she starred as Frida Kahlo, the emancipated and bisexual Mexican painter.

Salma Hayek is an icon glittering on the white screen. Mixed blood can produce stardust and even Catholic education cannot prevent it from rising and shining. Peaceful Salma - in the best of all possible worlds Assyrian Bible-readers might be tempted to close their Holy Book just to catch a glimpse of her. Alas, in their small world in Mechelen they will probably bring God's wrath down on her head and curse the depth of her cleavage. Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.  ATH