Sabbatical Blog

...chronicling some of my projects and learnings during this time apart from parish ministry

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Goliath and Guantanamo

What would you do if you were tossed in prison, perhaps after falling in with the wrong crowd, perhaps after actually doing something wrong, perhaps simply by mistake? You'd hope for release for a while, no doubt, but if you came to the conclusion that you were being held by a power that answered to no system of law or justice, that you would probably never be charged with a crime or have a trial, you might try desperate means, such as hunger strikes to bring your plight to the attention of the world. And if that failed to change your situation, you might, in the end, commit suicide.

I can imagine thinking along those lines, and empathize with the three Guantanamo Bay detainees who did just that yesterday. May they rest in peace. May their lives and deaths be not wasted.

President Bush said some words about the importance of humane and culturally sensitive treatment of these detainees, apparently forgetting that the beginning of "humane" is justice and hope. One US official dismissed this loss of life with a "they were just trying to be martyrs," line. The general in charge of the compound called these suicides "an act of asymmetric warfare." If asymmetric warfare means that there's a Goliath and there's a David, well, then I can see the general's point. Not that a man hanging by a sheet in a cell is exactly equivalent to warfare. Not that I like identifying with a Goliath so huge, mean, and out of control that only a little boy with a slingshot and the God of Justice on his side can bring him down. But that is the way it is.

I have three more weeks of sabbatical, and one of those weeks will be at GA, so the end of this time apart is near. Part of me is eager to return to my active ministry. Part of me likes working in her jeans and puttering amongst websites. And part of me dreads returning to a position in which I will be expected to comment on the state of our world, the morality of our nation, and the ethics of the lives we lead.

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