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.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Revolt of Christianity

"As Christians we are called to be peacemakers, and to initiate war only as a last resort. We believe your administration has launched an unjust and unjustified war in Iraq."

"We pledge fidelity to Jesus Christ, offering our hearts and lives to do God's work in God's world."

"While recognizing God as sovereign over individuals and institutions alike, we understand that no single political position should be identified with God's will."

"As Christians we are called to actions characterized by love, gentleness and concerns for the most vulnerable among us. We believe your administration has fostered intolerance and divisiveness and has often failed to listen to those with whom it disagrees." -- An open letter to President George W. Bush from concerned faculty, staff and emeriti of Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Imagine the grief in God's heart at the deliberate attempts, sanctioned at the highest levels of the Bush administration, as demonstrated by documents released to the ACLU, to break Moslem's relationship with the God of us all. Women deliberately attempted to "defile" men so that they would be unable to pray. What does it mean when Christians are silent in the face of attempts to destroy a man's relationship with God so that he might reveal "terrorist" secrets? When we try to break a man's relation with God in order to weaken him and make him more maleable, we commit one of the gravest spiritual evils and weaken our own relationship, perhaps irreparably.

Can we still hear the words of Vatican II? "The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself, merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth (5), who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes great pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgement when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting." - Nostra Aetate, 3.

Those who are defiled are our brothers in Christ. Let us pray that they will be protected from those who attempt so foolishly to break their relationship with God. And let us not only pray, but speak out. Every Christian has the unbreakable obligation to raise their voice against torture and the blasphemy against the human soul that is so embodied. To do less is to fail in our duty to our brother. Join the revolt of truth!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Impunity

"The world is soaked with mutual blood. When individuals commit homicide, it is a crime; it is called a virtue when it is done in the name of the state. Impunity is acquired for crimes not by reason of innocence but by the magnitude of the cruelty." -- St Cyprian of Carthage, To Donatus, chapter 6

"A U.S. Army captain forced an Iraqi detainee to dig his own grave and then ordered troops to pretend to shoot the detainee in one of several mock executions described in investigative documents released Tuesday by the Army...Included in the documents were reports of other mock executions, a homicide and the description of an incident in which a soldier allegedly goaded a prisoner by holding up the Jewish Star of David symbol while threatening other Arabs in the room...Two days later, the platoon came across a father and his sons loading metal onto a truck at the ammunition factory. After detaining the Iraqis, a soldier recounted, the sergeant asked the father, "Which one do you want to die?" รข€” referring to the man's sons.

Several soldiers said they recalled the sergeant taking one of the sons around the corner of a building and firing a shot.

'I yelled to him but he either ignored me or didn't hear me and proceeded with the boy around the building. We heard a single shot,' one sworn statement read.

When asked why he did not inquire what happened after he heard the shot, one soldier answered, 'The less I know, the faster I go home.'

Yancey's commanding officer, a colonel whose name was also blacked out, wrote, 'I do not see a requirement to tarnish [Yancey's] record for life with a federal conviction and dismissal at a general court-martial.' -- "Mock Executions of Iraqi Detainees Cited by Army", Los Angeles Times, May 18, 2005.

The powers that be know well the magnitude of the cruelty that induces an information vaccuum that sucks truth from our minds and compassion from our hearts. Or so it would appear as inanity drones on in the face of unspeakable cruelty. Or maybe it's just that we all feel, "The less I know, the faster I go home." Let us pray that we will not go home, but that we will grow hearts.

Friday, May 13, 2005

The Army that Sends War Demons Fleeing

"And as we by our prayers vanquish all demons who stir up war, and lead to the violation of oaths, and disturb the peace, we in this way are much more helpful to the kings than those who go into the field to fight for them. And we do take our part in public affairs, when along with righteous prayers we join self-denying exercises and meditations, which teach us to despise pleasures, and not to be led away by them. And none fight better for the king than we do. We do not indeed fight under him, although he require it; but we fight on his behalf, forming a special army — an army of piety — by offering our prayers to God." - – Origen, Against Celsus, Book 8, Chapter 73 [Celus, a pagan, had written a critique of Christians]

"The main hospital in al-Qaim was reportedly attacked during the fighting, according to local doctors. US forces say they believed insurgents were hiding inside. Eight people were reported to have been killed inside the building by the hospital's deputy director.

"The hospital was the main place for us to receive our patients and now we have set up mobile medical posts between houses to treat injured civilians that have been increasing since the fighting started. We don't have any medical supplies, as the ones we had were in the hospital," Mustafa al-Alousi, deputy director of the hospital, told IRIN" - "People flee al-Qaim as fighting continues", IRIN, May 12, 2005.

Who will join the Holy Spirit's army of prayer? Let us join with Father John Dear and pray for those who murder patients in hospitals, ripping terrorists from their IVs, while the corporate media chimes its lazy, unthinking hymns. Let us first vanquish the devil that lives beneath our skin. If anyone wonders where this urge to kill comes from, consider our own fierce love of comfort and the hatred that flares whenever anyone makes finger signs at it. Are we honest enough to admit that we love our lives in this world? That we trust in the power of this country more than the power of God? Where is the one who can set us free from this power?

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Power of Prayer

"No one of us fights back when he is apprehended, nor do our people avenge themselves against your unjust violence though numerous and plentiful. Our certainty of the vengeance which is to come makes us patient. The harmless give way to the harmful; the innocent acquiesce in the punishments and tortures certain and confident that whatever we suffer will not remain unavenged, and that the greater is the injury of the persecution, the more just and serious will be the vengeance for the persecution. Long ago divine Scripture laid down and said: ‘Vengeance is mine, I shall repay, says the Lord,’ and let the Holy Spirit again warn us saying: ‘Say not: I will avenge myself on my enemy, but wait in the Lord so that He may aid you.’" - St Cyprian of Carthage, To Demetrian, Chapter 17

Report from a soldier in the Army Reserve stationed in Iraq: "Guys in my unit, particularly the younger guys, would drive by in their Humvee and shatter bottles over the heads of Iraqi civilians passing by. They'd keep a bunch of empty Coke bottles in the Humvee to break over people's heads...Mr. Delgado said he had witnessed incidents in which an Army sergeant lashed a group of children with a steel Humvee antenna, and a Marine corporal planted a vicious kick in the chest of a kid about 6 years old. There were many occasions, he said, when soldiers or marines would yell and curse and point their guns at Iraqis who had done nothing wrong...Mr. Delgado confronted a sergeant who, he said, had fired on the detainees [at Abu Ghraib]. "I asked him," said Mr. Delgado, "if he was proud that he had shot unarmed men behind barbed wire for throwing stones. He didn't get mad at all. He was, like, 'Well, I saw them bloody my buddy's nose, so I knelt down. I said a prayer. I stood up, and I shot them down.'" - "From Gook to Raghead", Bob Herbert, New York Times, May 2, 2005.

Which god answered this soldier's prayer? Without standing in judgement, which as Cyprian exhorts us, must be forever surrendered to God, it seems to be the same god that Mr. Bush consulted before committing 100,000 Iraqis to an agonizing death. The same god that proclaims the duty of torture when his victims dare to resist full spectrum dominance.

Let us begin to offer reparation for the victims of our consumerist frenzy. We are the guilty ones and we are the ones that the world is looking to for mercy from the steel whips of vengence on those even the perpetrators admit are innocent. And pray for Kevin Benderman, whose application for conscientious objector status was denied and who faces many years in prison for refusing to kill more Iraqis. And be sure to include the soldiers described above in your prayers. As Cyprian put it, "Say not: I will avenge myself on my enemy, but wait in the Lord so that He may aid you."