By Anthony Manousos
This week I was profoundly moved to hear a talk by Jim Loney, who was one of the Christian Peace Team members taken hostage in Iraq along with the Quaker Tom Fox in November 2005. Tom, a martyr to our Quaker faith in pacifism, was murdered by his kidnappers, but Jim Loney was released and has written a book about his experience called Captivity. All of us who heard him speak at Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace were awed by Jim’s courage, faithfulness and honesty. Here’s his explanation of why he wrote this remarkable book:
I often wondered, during those excruciating days of handcuffs and chains, fear and boredom without end, would I ever get to tell anyone about the strange and bizarre things that happened during our captivity? Being transported in the trunk of a car. Sleeping with my left and right hands handcuffed to the person beside me. Explaining to the captors how to use “men’s gel.” Picking open our handcuffs after watching a Hollywood movie.
It is a paradox. I went to Iraq as a pacifist on a mission of peace and was kidnapped, threatened with death and held hostage with three other men until we were rescued in a military operation. It is an extraordinary privilege to be able to tell the story of this paradox, to explain why I remain committed to the principles of nonviolence despite the fact a member of our group was murdered and our freedom was secured by armed force. The crucible of captivity was a kind of school in which I was able to see the innermost workings of the universe, how we are all connected, how our liberation is inextricably tied together. I want to share this story in the hope of contributing to the emergence of a world without war, the single greatest challenge of the 21st century. Everything depends on this, for without peace nothing else is possible.
It seems very appropriate that Jim Loney will be leading this year’s “Palm Sunday Peace Parade” in Pasadena. . http://www.thepeaceacademy.org/peaceparade/ which was started by Mennonites and has now become an ecumenical event, drawing together Christians and others who wish to honor the “Prince of Peace.”
I learned about the appropriateness of turning Palm Sunday into a peace parade five years ago when I read Marcus Borg’s book The Last Week of Jesus. Borg (a progressive Christian who was invited to speak at the FGC Gathering by QUF several years ago) argues that Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem during Holy Week was making a political statement—a rejection of the Roman empire and its militaristic notion of peace. I was pleased to discover that the Mennonites organize an annual peace parade on Palm Sunday in Pasadena with the same intention—to reject the militarism of the American empire and to affirm Jesus’ pacifist teachings. I have attended this Palm Sunday peace event on several occasions and look forward to walking with Jim Loney and others who are following in the footsteps of Jesus, whose example and words inspired our Quaker peace testimony.
You can read my talk at: http://laquaker.blogspot.com/2011/04/palm-sunday-peace-parade.html