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.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
A Suffering Heart
"A recently declassified August 2006 Department of Defense report confirms that psychologists were directly responsible for the development and use of techniques defined by the International Red Cross as "tantamount to torture." These techniques continue to be employed against enemy combatants in Guantanamo and other military and CIA run facilities." - http://ethicalapa.com/
When the science of mental healing is re-engineered to destroy the minds of those deemed "enemy combatants", we must let go of our own souls in order to carry out this work. Those who remain silent now will meet silence and understand the meaning of silence when their place in the torture queue arrives. Fundamentally, the techniques that are being pioneered in Iraq and Afghanistan are advanced techniques of social coercion, enforced by psychological agony as required. Iraq and Guantanamo are laboratories where the techniques of coercion will be perfected.
The book Torture and Eucharist by William Cavanaugh describes the antidote to the dominator's imagination: "To participate in the Eucharist is to live inside God's imagination. It is to be caught up into what is really real, the body of Christ. As human persons, body and soul, are incorporated into the performance of Christ's corpus verum, they resist the state's ability to define what is real through the mechanism of torture."
Again: "If torture is essentially an anti-liturgy, a drama in which the state realizes omnipotence on the bodies of others, then the Eucharist provides a direct and startling contrast, for in the Eucharist Christ sacrifices no other body but His own. Power is realized in self-sacrifice; Christians join in this sacrifice by uniting their bodies to the sacrifice of Christ."
We cannot allow the state to define what is real and enforce it's definitions on the bodies of the weak and the voiceless. To be a Christian is to be united with the tortured in the body of Christ. Through our prayer and protest, the tortured receive grace and can retain the inner integrity which the state seeks to rob them of through psychological torture.
"We live our personal lives aware of what those we care for, need. The only difference between us, and Abraham is the limit on who we care for. We care for our families, our friends; Abraham cares for the people in Sodom and Gomorrah. We ask for good things for ourselves; Abraham asks for good things for others. He asks for this, not just for the just, but for the unjust as well. What do we weigh on the scales of justice, for whom do we see them balance? For the many? Or for the few? Our children are the few, but in our hearts and minds they are the only ones; and still, we who are evil know how to give them good gifts. Why do we restrict those gifts only to those we care for? If we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit, won’t we be asking God to make us care for others, wherever they are, whoever they are?" - Adventus
So how should Christians consider their tortured brothers? "'And what does the Lord require of you,' asks Micah of Israel,' but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.' That is the eternal golden braid what binds all the stories of the Hebrew scriptures, and all the gospels and letters and visions of the New Testament, together. It is not about truth, it is about justice; it is not about power, it is about mercy; it is not about holiness, it is about humility. Have people abused that, refused that, misused that? Certainly. It is the way people are. But the basiliea tou theou is not about entrance requirements or admissions exams or even proper I.D. The kingdom of heaven is that place where no one is excluded, where no one is kept out, except that they keep themselves out. It is the place without any need for a refugee camp, because while we make widows and orphans and determine a person's value, God makes people, and accepts everyone of them." - Adventus
Two men of God who hear the voice of the voice are Fr. Louis Vitale and Fr. Steven Kelly, who confronted torturers at Ft. Huachuca last week: "Two Roman Catholic priests, who were arrested as they approached the Fort Huachuca gatehouse on November 19, 2006, will face a continuance of their pre-trial hearing this August 13 in Federal Court in Tucson, Arizona. The intent of Franciscan Fr. Louis Vitale, 74, and Jesuit Fr. Steve Kelly, 58, was to speak with enlisted personnel and deliver a letter denouncing torture to Major General Barbara Fast, commander at the post." - truthout
What better way to serve Christ than to serve those who have no one to speak for them? "Fr. Vitale and Fr. Steve Kelly face federal and state charges of trespass and refusal to follow police orders.
Fr. Vitale is co-founder of the Nevada Desert Experience, a faith-based organization that has opposed nuclear weapons testing for a quarter of a century. He was arrested at a Fort Benning Protest in 2005 and served six months in federal prison.
Fr. Kelley has served time in federal prison for the nonviolent, direct disarmament of nuclear weapon delivery systems. In December of 2005, he served as chaplain for Witness to Torture, a delegation of US anti-torture activists who peacefully marched in Cuba to the gates of the Guantanamo Bay naval base and prison camp."
Prison is the appropriate place for Christians - among the forgotten, the falsely accused, the tortured, and all those the empire has crushed. Please consider supporting their protest and that of the dissident members of the APA who want to stop psychological torture. Go to Ethical APA for details on how to give your support.