“The opposite of faith is not heresay, it’s indifference.” -Elie Wiesel

Such was the stark caption that appears at the end of Beyond the Gates, a movie focusing on the genocide in Rwanda as it occurred at a small Catholic School. The movie stars John Hurt as Father Christopher, a world-weary Catholic priest, and Hugh Dancy as Joe, an idealistic teacher, who provide refuge for hundreds of Tutsis as they flee the terror of the murderous Hutus in April of 1994.

The film asks many questions about faith and suffering, not least of which “Why does God allow bad things happen to innocent people?” and “Where is God when evil occurs in the world?”

I had a rambling discourse on this written, but I’ve deleted it to allow the character of Father Christopher speak for himself. At this point in the movie, the Hutus are directly outside the school gates, and the UN is about to leave. Joe has decided to leave with the UN. He sees Father Christopher standing among the distraught Tutsis with a calm look on his face. He has seen what Joe has seen- the murder of friends, the abandonment of those who could help, the fear of innocents about to be slaughtered. Joe asks him, “Why are you doing this?” to which Father Christopher replies:

“You ask, Joe, where is God in everything that is happening here, in all this suffering? I know exactly where He is. He’s right here, with these people, suffering. His Love is here, more intense and profound than I have ever felt. And my heart is here, Joe, my soul. If I leave, I think I may not find it again.”

Too often we shoulder responsibilities on God for our actions, and never take an inward glance to see our own choices affecting the world around us. The question should not be “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” but “Why do we insist on choosing to do bad things to our neighbor?” Reflection on this question from a day-to-day perspective to a global perspective might allow us to see God where He is, and to follow Him there, rather than demanding his intervention from a distance.

Happily, it seems that a new consciousness from this perspective is taking place. As a small example, check out this video from Brooke Fraser’s new CD Albertine, which focuses on the responsibility of the faithful to areas like Rwanda:


Torture is Wrong

Saw this as my wife and I walked down Newbury St., Boston, on a recent trip to visit family in New England. I don’t remember what church this was, but I am pleased to see the Christian community speaking out against all forms of violence done in the name of God or State.

It wasn’t long ago that the Church was the proponent of ugly methods of torture, as these examples from Medievality.com show. Thankfully, we have (mostly) emerged from this sense of physical power and domination over others, but it is also our duty as Christians to speak out against the torture we see in the world, which we as Americans unfortunately find right in our backyard. Phillipe Sands’ book Torture Team details the Bush administration’s torture policies. Sands is interviewed about the book on Fresh Air- the revealing interview can be found here– check out the book review of Jesuit priest Uwem Akpan’s short story collection as well.

William T. Cavanaugh addresses the relationship between Church and State with regards to torture in his bookTorture and Eucharist: Theology, Politics, and the Body of Christ. He focuses on the role the Church played in Chile under the brutal regime of Pinochet.

More than books, Christians, particulary young evangelicals, are actively engaging in social action and peace movements around the globe. I stumbled across the Sojourners magazine at Borders, and was happy to see profiles of numerous young Christians engaging in this very issue.