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.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What Are Our Voices For?

Listen to the words of a soldier trying to follow his faith:

Specialist Joshua Casteel - Listen to the audio clip (or download)

Where is the leadership which should expect from bishops, the shepherds of the people of God? Justice must be enthroned - this is the work of Jesus. 40 years of hermaneutics, Vatican II, and all the rest, and not a single forthright criticism of a war that they admit was in no way justified by just war principles, not as long as it really matters - while the war is in progress.

"For too long the language of morality and sin has been commandeered by those among us who think the primary goal of religion is to regulate human intimacy. People like you and me—that is to say, thoughtful people of faith whose souls are inclined to the work of making the world a better place—we don’t want our religious faithfulness to be confused with prudishness, so we shy away from anything that might look like a pounded pulpit or that might smell like brimstone.

"Brothers and sisters, dear friends, when it comes to torture, we need to lose that inhibition, because how can torture be anything but immoral? And if we cannot condemn as sin that which truly is immoral, then what might our God-given voices be for?Brothers and sisters, dear friends, when it comes to torture, we need to lose that inhibition, because how can torture be anything but immoral? And if we cannot condemn as sin that which truly is immoral, then what might our God-given voices be for?" - Ben Daniel, speech at the headquarters of a company that renders "enemy combatants" to be tortured for the edification and career advancement of American politicians.

Indeed, what is the purpose of spiritual life if it can't be moved by the plight of our brothers and sisters and we are condemned to live in a fairy land of Rapture? For what has God given us minds and hands and hearts if they cannot be moved by a world of starvation caused directly by the corporations that coddle us with obscene and undeserved comfort? Our hearts were not given us so that we could distract them with brainless nonsense while the world burns.

"I am not schooled in national security or in international politics. I am a pastor, and I wouldn’t be a very good one if the promotion of social righteousness were not part of my ministry. What I know about torture is this: it’s not just ineffective, and unpatriotic and illegal, and dangerous. To torture someone is immoral because it is cruel and it is unfair. Torture uses punishment to determine guilt rather than using guilt to determine punishment. Torture desecrates the image of God that is common to all humanity. Torture is a sin." - Ben Daniel

It is as much a mortal sin as abortion, though you don't hear Catholic bishops shaking that tree very often. They have more important things to deal with than the torture of human beings.

"And woe unto you if you are torturing your fellow human being. Woe unto you if you are getting rich by providing material support, service, or assistance to the purveyors of torture, for how does it profit a person to gain the whole world but lose his or her soul? Woe unto the politicians who have abused our nation’s fear to find support for torture and who change the definition of torture in order to say with a straight face, 'Americans don’t torture'. Woe unto the politicians who have not spoken out loudly enough to condemn torture. Woe to the religious communities and leaders who have been silent. Woe unto you, for you will have to go to bed each night knowing that you have sinned against humanity and against God." - Ben Daniel

And you will have to sleep in the sin your silence has nurtured.

"The final word belongs to grace. Grace enables and empowers us to change. The good news is that no matter what the propagators of hatred and fear may tell us, we can reject the sin of torture and so can they. We can just say no. There remains time for the amendment of our national character. By grace we can affirm the sanctity of each human life. By grace we can refuse to live under the illusionary comfort of security that is conceived in cruelty and born of brutality. By grace we may live moral and upright lives." - Ben Daniel

Wake from sin and speak. It is the only true security.

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