"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, January 26, 2008

Resistance is the Only Stance Worthy of a Christian

As the rubble of World War II still smoldered, French philosopher Albert Camus wrote, "What the world expects of Christians is to get out of their abstractions and stand face to face with the bloody mess that is our history today. Christians must speak out and utter their condemnation in such a way that never a doubt, never a single doubt, can arise in the heart of even the simplest person."

Such is the witness of Fr. John Dear, Jesuit priest and member of Pax Christi, who was arrested for the crime of presenting a petition called the "'Declaration of Peace,' calling upon citizens everywhere, including senators and congressional representatives, to speak out against the U.S. war and occupation on Iraq, to work to stop the war and pursue nonviolent solutions for the people of Iraq and the Middle East." - "My statement before the judge", Fr. John Dear, Jan. 22, 2008.

Predictably in the Christian republic of America, "There was little peace, love and understanding as a federal judge castigated a nationally known activist and Roman Catholic priest for an Iraq war protest that blocked a Santa Fe elevator in 2006.0126 03.

'I’m not interested in making a martyr out of you,' U.S. District Judge Don Svet said Thursday in Albuquerque before sentencing the Rev. John Dear to 40 hours of community service and $510 in fines and fees, to be paid immediately." - "Catholic Priest, Other Protesters, Sentenced in Santa Fe", Jan. 26, 2008.

Martyrdom, like many other gifts of God, is given to us for the restoration and renewal of human life in society, not for our individual edification. These charismatic gifts are available to anyone who wishes to live in Christ as long as we are willing to bear the witness of the cross in our testimony against the powers of this world. The charismatic gifts are the only source of strength against the aggressions of the principalities, such as the courts of the United States. Regarding these, the statement of Steve Baggerly during his trial for an action against Blackwater illustrates their role, "The courts pretend that adherence to the law is what makes for an orderly and peaceable world, while, in fact, US law and courts stand idly by while the US military and private armies like Blackwater have killed, maimed, brutalized, and destroyed the homes and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. In the end US courts trample International Law, as well as God's law of love for all people, by rubber-stamping every US war and military intervention, invasion, incursion, occupation, police action, and special forces operation coming out of the Pentagon—and they are many and constant. Our courts even protect our world's largest stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction despite international treaties and laws that declare them illegal and demand their disarmament. US courts make sure that if our weapons of mass destruction are one day used to destroy the planet and all life on it, to undo all of God's creation, that it will be perfectly legal."

The law they respect is the law of strength - law is enforced on behalf of the most politically powerful player against those who must be bent to his will. So the charismatic gifts have been given to us so as to make a political witness, not merely a personal one. "The exercise of these gifts constitutes the essential tactics of resistance to the power of death." - William Stringfellow, "An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land.

"To exist, under Nazism, in silence, conformity, fear, acquiescence, obeisance, collaboration - to covet "safety" or "security" on the conditions prescribed by the State - caused moral insanity, meant suicide, was fatally dehumanizing, constituted a form of death. Resistance was the only stance worthy of a human being, as much in responsibility to oneself as to all other humans, as the famous Commandment mentions. And if that posture involved grave and constant peril of persecution, imprisonment, or execution, at least one would have lived humanly while taking these risks. Not to resist, on the other hand, involved the certitude of death - of moral death, of the death to one's humanity, of death to sanity and conscience, of the death which possesses humans profoundly ungrateful for their own lives and for the lives of others." - William Stringfellow, "An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land.

Let us be filled with gratitude for Fr. John Dear and all that host of martyrs who resistance keeps the rest of us alive.

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