Another full week of my experiment has passed. Wednesday 11 January marked the tenth anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Catholic Workers in Washington were engaged in various actions to commemorate and protest its continued existence and similar places around the world (http://catholicworkernews.blogspot.com/2011/09/human-chain-will-protest-guantanamo.html). I joined several people from the local area in a vigil outside a nearby Tube station (http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2012/01/491028.html). We held banners calling for the closing of the prison, for the release of the last British-based prisoner and to distribute flyers reminding people that there are still 171 prisoners who are being held without charges or legal process.
A few people from the house went to a talk by a lawyer who represents Guantanamo prisoners in New York (http://www.meetup.com/americansabroad/events/47755512/). He knows Catholic Workers in the United States and had met one of our group before, the peace protester world is quite small.
I heard a some discussion this week about not wanting to only protest – criticise the way things are, rather to propose something better. During my time here I have also taken some time to get to know a bit more about the founders of the Catholic Worker and contemporary people in the non-violence movement. In a biography of Dorothy Day (Love Is The Measure), I was struck by a comment about Peter Maurin, the other co-founder that he was more interested in proposing a vision of what could be and starting to live that vision than taking part in protest action. (Here is a little biographical information about Peter http://www.catholicworker.org/roundtable/pmbiography.cfm).
For a contemporary view, I watched a DVD by John Dear (http://loveyourenemies.wordpress.com/2008/01/06/the-narrow-path-dvd/) describing his beliefs and how he was formed in them, including a trip to El Salvador in the mid-1980s when Ignacio Ellacuria (http://ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-voices/20th-century-ignatian-voices/ignacio-ellacuria-sj-1930%E2%80%931989/) told him that his purpose at the University of Central America was to help bring about the Kingdom of God. This made me recall a criticism I read of the recent Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace document (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20111024_nota_en.html) that it sounded like it was promoting a new world order and hence obviously bad. Yes, that is exactly what Christianity proposes – Jesus called it the Kingdom of God. A global financial authority will fall short of that but it may be a step in the right direction.
Dorothy Day seemed to be one of those people who had the vision of the Kingdom and began to live it in her life and helped others to have a little glimpse. Prayer was a fundamental part of that. We started a Bible study in the house on Thursday to try to build our sense of the vision from the book of Genesis. I managed to get up early and pray a bit more a few times last week, but I still lack the vision and the grace to live it in my own life. I pray that I persevere.