An blog by a member of the Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, to explore the nexus between contemplation and resistance. "The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

While You're Sitting in the Pew

While you're sitting in the pew, please spare a thought for those currently living in terror in the black sites created by the United States to torture those who are considered the enemies of freedom and democracy, those who have lost the claim to human rights. More prisons like the following are being discovered every few weeks:

"Accounts from detainees at Guantánamo reveal that the United States as recently as last year operated a secret prison in Afghanistan where detainees were subjected to torture and other mistreatment, Human Rights Watch said today...The detainees offer consistent accounts about the facility, saying that U.S. and Afghan guards were not in uniform and that U.S. interrogators did not wear military attire, which suggests that the prison may have been operated by personnel from the Central Intelligence Agency.

The detainees said U.S. interrogators slapped or punched them during interrogations. They described being held in complete darkness for weeks on end, shackled to rings bolted into the walls of their cells, with loud music or other sounds played continuously. Some detainees said they were shackled in a manner that made it impossible to lie down or sleep, with restraints that caused their hands and wrists to swell up or bruise. The detainees said they were deprived of food for days at a time, and given only filthy water to drink...The CIA worked on people, including me, day and night.... Plenty lost their minds. I could hear people knocking their heads against the walls and the doors, screaming their heads off...J.K., another detainee (name withheld at attorney’s request), also alleged that he had been held in the dark, shackled to the wall and subjected to weeks of sleep deprivation and constant loud music and noise, as well as being beaten during interrogations. “People were screaming in pain and crying all the time,” he told his attorney." Human Rights Watch, "U.S. Operated Secret ‘Dark Prison’ in Kabul", Dec. 19, 2005.

While I was sitting in the pew, envisioning those living in darkness, imagining what it would be like to live every minute waiting for the torture that is sure to come, I thought of the words of Jurgen Moltmann, "We have lost God, and God has left us, so we are bothered neither by the suffering of others which we have caused, nor by the debts which we are leaving behind us for coming generations. We see all this, but it doesn't touch us. We know it, but it leaves us unmoved...Knowledge is no longer the revelation of our power; it is the revelation of our powerlessness. Because this growing apathy...is becoming more and more universal, it has to be based on an objective alienation from God. God has hidden his face and is far from us." Jurgen Moltmann, God for a Secular Society, Minneapolis, Mn.: Fortress Press, 1999, p. 16 - 17. How can we pretend to believe in God when we ignore His face in those we have tossed into the dungeons of our mad fears? Only by being moved by the face of the suffering one can we allow God to recover us. We can pray and sing in the pew all we want, but he remains far from us until we bring mercy to those who wait in darkness for the torturers we have hired.

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