"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, April 23, 2005

The Army that Sheds No Blood

"If a loud trumpet summons soldiers to war, shall not Christ with a strain of peace issued to the ends of the earth gather up his soldiers of peace? By his own blood and by his word he has assembled an army which sheds no blood in order to give them the Kingdom of Heaven. The trumpet of Christ is his Gospel. He has sounded it and we have heard it. Let us then put on the armour of peace." - Clement of Alexandria, Protrepticus XI, 116.

God has armed us with the weapons of peace: open hearts, song, and nothing to protect because all is his gift. We must reach deep to find the sword-points dipped in water, by which we can quench the fire of war.

One of those who has perhaps discovered the waters of mercy is Haj Ali, the prisoner who appears in the most famous Abu Ghraib torture photo, the man in the black hood with wires trailing from his fingers standing on the crate. In a PBS interview, he describes what sustained him, "I put my faith in God. Our strength and our resistance come from our faith in God, especially a person who considers himself not guilty and he is the object of abuse and punishment. There were others who couldn't resist [the torture], and they gave up names of innocent people to trade for their release from prison. But God gave us the strength, and we believe in God. For a truly faithful man, God gives the person the great strength to be patient to endure the pain, abuse and insults that we were subjected to. But keep in mind that not all people are equal in their tolerance. As I told you, there were people who judged others." - "Haj Ali's Story", NOW, April 29, 2005 (http://www.pbs.org/now/politics/hajali.html).

Indeed there are people who judge others. Who in their Christian righteousness judge that Iraqi lives are not worth a gallon of gas in an American Hummer. May we rediscover the faith that sustains our victims and pray that God may forgive our indifference to their torment. Where are the soldiers of peace?

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