In the Ashes of Lament

September 11 drove a nail through Christs hand . The fires that engulf the residential neighborhoods of Baghdad at this moment drive a nail through the other.

And who will drive the nail through the feet? Al Qaeda or the Christian rightwing that now controls the Republican party? In this Passion Play who gets to be the Roman soldier? A Christian or a Muslim?

Does it make one bit of difference?

Either way God is crucified. Either way on CNN or Al Jazeera with horror or glee or indifference or with the righteous self-certainty that is the mask of murder we will watch the anguish of God.

Who will wail, who weep, who tear at their hair, who rend their clothes, who remember mercy? Who will hear the cry from Bagdad ” why hast thou forsaken me ” and who will kneel in the rubble and pray God forgive America though we cannot claim we know not what we do? And who if we cannot find the words to pray will at least bear witness to the rough beast slouching towards its next spasm of violence?

What now the rites of confession and mourning? One cannot confess when an atrocity is being performed in ones name. Too early by far. One can be outraged and one can grieve for the dead, yes, but also for the soul of this once great nation that has succumbed to Empire and the impulse to kill for oil, has lied about it shamelessly, and stands now naked before an unconvinced world.

Let us pray now as we have never prayed before, stuttering, heartbroken and committed to the sacred necessity of peacemaking. To do less is to kiss this world goodbye even as our children are now inheriting it.

MICHAEL ORTIZ HILL is the author of Dreaming the End of the World: Apocalypse as a Rite of Passage (Spring Publications, Fall 2003) and with Augustine Kandemwa, Gathering in the Names: a Journey Into the Land of African Gods. (Spring Audio and Journal, 2002). ). His essays on peacemaking and healing are posted at www.gatheringin.com. He can be emailed at Michaelortizhill@earthlink.ent.



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