Prison Diary: Hacksaw Ridge

The spirituality out at the prison tends toward the revivalistic rather than the ethical. Jesus is the one who died to forgive us our sins. And when your sins involve things like murder this message has a particular resonance.

This message isn't all bad. The Men in White carry crippling loads of shame and guilt. So I don't mind a revivalistic message of grace.

But our conversation tends to get stuck in this place, grace for our sins. I struggle to move the conversation toward the ethical. Some of this is because I lack a certain moral authority. I'm hesitant to insist that the men obey Jesus because I live in the free world and they live in a very dark and brutal place. I don't face the moral hazards they face.

The hardest thing to talk about is violence. If you refuse or are unable to use violence to protect yourself the physical and sexual degradations you will face are harrowing. Because of this we spend a lot of time dancing around the subject of violence. It's too hard to talk about.

But I don't feel like I'm doing my job if I completely leave it alone. Which is why I was eager to get the movie Hacksaw Ridge out to the prison. I knew the movie would help us talk about violence and non-violence from a Christian perspective. I might lack moral authority, but Desmond Doss does not.

On Monday we watched the first half of the movie, right up to the start of the battle scenes. We had a good conversation afterward about violence. It was hard, uncomfortable and awkward at times, but the movie helped us talk about issues that we've tended to dance around. Some amazing testimonies were shared.

We'll finish the movie next week.

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