National Geographic : 2009 Jun
• by many Arab Christians. "It s because of what Christians in the West, led by the U.S., have been doing in the East," he says, ticking o the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. support for Israel, and the threats of "regime change" by the Bush Administration. "To many Muslims, especially the fanatics, this looks like the Crusades all over again, a war against Islam waged by Christian- ity. Because we re Christians, they see us as the enemy too. It s guilt by association." Mark and Lisa, like Arab Christians every- where, conduct an ongoing argument about whether to leave their homeland for good. Mark has one brother in Ireland, another in San Di- ego, and he lived in the U.S. for a few years. He got his green card and was working in Califor- nia when he and Lisa were married, in Jerusa- lem, in 2004. She tried living in San Diego for a while but was homesick for her family, so the couple moved back a er Nate was born. Living as Arabs in the U.S. a er 9/11 was an eye-opener for them. "It s funny," Mark says, "what Americans think about things. ey ve never heard of Arab Christians. ey assume all Arabs are Muslim---terrorists, that is---and that Christianity was invented in Italy or something. So when you say, I m an Arab Christian, they look at you funny, like you just said, e moon is purple. I had one lady ask me, What does your family think about you being a Christian? I suppose they must have been very upset! " overlooking the Mediterranean near Beirut, a hermit rises at three in the morn- ing, reaching for a ashlight amid the lumpy familiarity of books that are both his life s work and his lifelong bedmates. e hermit, who s 73, long-bearded, and known by the name Father Yuhanna, works there until dawn, translating ancient Christian hymns from Aramaic, the lan- guage of Jesus, into modern Arabic, copying them into a giant, leatherbound volume the size of a seat cushion. en he prays, eats a piece of fruit, pulls on his black habit and cloak, and merrily sets o to deliver 10,000 blessings to every place in the world. His first stop, always, is Alaska, where he "stocks up on fresh air." en he dri s down Christian farmers lost their olive groves when Israelis built a fence around a settlement.