Prison Diary: An Imagination for Peace

On Monday out at the prison we finished the movie Hacksaw Ridge and had a great conversation afterwards.

The movie accomplished what I hoped it would, it helped us struggle with the issue of violence. Many of the men were moved and convicted by the witness of Desmond Doss. After the study was over, last week and this week, I had a line of men wanting to talk afterwards about how addicted they'd become to violence and how the movie interrupted them. The movie had morally shaken them in ways I never could have.

Theologically, this is what the movie helped them with. To borrow from Stanley Hauerwas, the movie gave the Men in White an imagination for peace. Before the movie the only imagination the Men in White had for courage was violence. That's what courage meant, meeting violence with violence. What Hacksaw Ridge did was expand their imagination for what courage could look like. Courage could look non-violent. Until last night, that association was unimaginable for the Men in White. And lacking that imagination violence was the only option. You had to "stand up" and meet violence with violence.

But now, with Desmond Doss in their minds, the Men in White have another vision of courage, a vision that makes non-violence possible.

Non-violence isn't weakness, it is courageous, noble and heroic. This creates a new moral imagination, making new choices available, and giving peace a toehold in the jungle.

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