Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Joshua Casteel: How I became a conscientious objector

Joshua Casteel is a remarkable person: writer, playwright, public speaker, an Army veteran and former West Point cadet who became a foe of war and a model Christian. He died five years ago, age 32, of cancer that was probably caused by breathing toxic smoke burned at his base in Iraq.

His one book, "Letters from Abu Ghraib", has just been issued in a revised edition. It’s a collection of intimate letters sent by Joshua to friends and family in 2004-5 during his service as a US Army interrogator and Arabic linguist in the 202nd Military Intelligence Battalion stationed at the notorious Abu Ghraid Prison in Iraq.

"Letters from Abu Ghraib" will come to be recognized as a classic of anti-war literature widely used in classes and discussion groups. The letters reveal how, as a consequence of interrogating imprisoned Iraqis, Joshua undergoes a conversion to a deeper Christianity that brings with it the conviction “’that service in my current way is absolutely wrong, and totally outside the bounds of the witness of the New Testament ... If people do not understand this uncompromising allegiance, and think me a deserter, so be it. … I will take deadly serious Christ’s call to Peter that he drop his nets and follow. I cannot continue as an American war fighter.”

 In 2005 Joshua obtained an early discharge as a conscientious objector.


Friday, November 10, 2017

At Play In the Lions' Den

The cover photo alone is enough for me to buy the book. I know Jim did a good job. This book is a must have for me. I'm getting a copy for all of my friends for Xmas too. Thank you Jim Forest for being there and for sharing the story with all of us.

More information about the book is HERE.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

love of our deluded fellow man as he actually is

Thomas Merton Zen Photography, courtesy Bellarmine University
"In the long run, no one can show another the error that is within him, unless the other is convinced that his critic first sees and loves the good that is within him. So while we are perfectly willing to tell our adversary he is wrong, we will never be able to do so effectively until we can ourselves appreciate where he is right. And we can never accept his judgment on our errors until he gives evidence that he really appreciates our own particular truth. Love, love only, love of our deluded fellow man as he actually is, in his delusion and in his sin: this alone can open the door of truth. As long as we do not have this love, as long as this love is not active and effective in our lives (for words and good wishes will never suffice) we have no real access to the truth. At least not to moral truth."
- Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p. 69

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

When in the soul of the serene disciple

Photo by Thomas Merton

When in the soul of the serene disciple
With no more Fathers to imitate
Poverty is a success,
It is a small thing to say the roof is gone:
He has not even a house.

Stars, as well as friends,
Are angry with the noble ruin.
Saints depart in several directions.

Be still:
There is no longer any need of comment.
It was a lucky wind
That blew away his halo with his cares,
A lucky sea that drowned his reputation.

Here you will find
Neither a proverb nor a memorandum.
There are no ways,
No methods to admire
Where poverty is no achievement.
His God lives in his emptiness like an affliction.

What choice remains?
Well, to be ordinary is not a choice:
It is the usual freedom
Of men without visions.

~ Thomas Merton

Thursday, September 21, 2017

going nowhere

 
Leonard Cohen

“Going nowhere … isn’t about turning your back on the world; it’s about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.” Leonard Cohen

Joshua Casteel: How I became a conscientious objector

Joshua Casteel is a remarkable person: writer, playwright, public speaker, an Army veteran and former West Point cadet who became a foe of...