Yesterday, Al Staggs sent me the poem-prayer below; he has today given permission to share it so please feel free to pass it along. Al is a former pastor and presently a performer and a poet. He is probably best known for his portrayals of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Clarence Jordan and just recently published a book of peace and justice poetry titled “A Pilgrim in Rome: Cries of Dissent” (in stock at Collected Works bookstore in Santa Fe).
“This collection of poetry is an attempt to give witness to my faith in the context of systemic injustice that is being proliferated on a massive scale. It is my conviction that the messages of Jesus, the prophets and the martyrs who died for speaking truth to power compel us to counter the events and evils of our time by speaking courageously on behalf of ‘the least of these.’ At some point, to be silent is to be complicit.” (from http://www.bpfna.org/home?id=58136)
PS — Al’s website is http://www.alstaggs.com and a prescient essay, written on the eve of our Iraq crusade, is here: http://www.missionmeeting.org/flummery/Bonhoeffer.asp
From: Al Staggs
Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2009 7:29 AM
Subject: A Prayer for Israel
A PRAYER FOR ISRAEL
by Al Staggs
May that land never again be called the ‘Holy Land’
May the inhabitants of Israel one day come to know
That the boundaries of their land will serve as a prison
Of their own making-
For all of the other less-than-holy-inhabitants of the world
With the possible exception of our ‘Christian United States’
Will become potential adversaries
For those who live by the sword
Must keep wielding their swords
In order to maintain the very, very tenuous security of
This tiny island of ‘God’s people‘,
These victims of the Holocaust
Who have now become victimizers
And we hear your oft-repeated claim,
“Never again, Never again.”
Yet it is you who have belied your own resolve
And to cause this carnage, this oppression
To occur once again.
The Wailing Wall is not only in Jerusalem,
There is a new one around the citizens of Gaza
Who wail at the wall of their imprisonment.
Your military might is matched only by your arrogance.
I do not pray for the defeat of Israel
Or for Israel’s annihilation,
I only pray for the cessation of this abominable treatment
Of people who are also God’s children.
When I view Israel,
I do not see faith in Yahweh,
I see the power and use of your impressive weaponry.
May your weapons turn to rust
So that we can see the people of faith once again.
Israel, you have abdicated any moral high ground
And your actions should be viewed as “anti-Palestinian”
And that label should carry the same weight as when
You charge your critics with “anti-Semitism.”
I do not excuse the attacks of the Hamas,
However, you surely must know when a people are kept
Continuously and perpetually in bondage and relegated
To living a subhuman existence, hostilities are bound to erupt
As in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising as in the actions of Nat Turner
And in our own Revolutionary War.
Brecht was correct when he said, “even saintly folk will act
Like sinners when they haven’t had their customary dinners.”
You’ve had your customary dinners and your basic services as Israelis have not been interrupted so you cannot understand, nor do you wish
To understand the basis of much of the hostility directed against you.
I pray that if you do not cease these oppressive ways,
That you will feel the intense heat of the world’s animosity
And that the God we both serve will bring you to your knees in repentance.