Sunday, January 29, 2006

News of the CPT Hostages

There has been news about the Christian Peacemaker Teams hostages. Here are good sources of information, with links to articles that give more details:

Free the Captives website
Martin Kelley's assembled links

As the Free the Captives site notes, it is good news that there is evidence that Tom Fox, Norman Kember, Harmeet Sooden, and James Loney are still alive. But it is disturbing that the purpose of the video seems to be to offer one more chance for the U.S. to bow to their demands, or else the four will be killed. The demands are to free all prisoners in Iraq. No deadline has been set.

In my own reading of news accounts of this (but I have not yet followed all the links), I have seen no mention of something I find interesting: the video shows the hostages speaking, but there is no audio of what they are saying. This was true for the video showing Jill Carroll as well. Although the group who took her hostage claims to have a different name, I cannot help but wonder if that group has links to this group -- or even if they are in fact the same. At least they might be sharing a defective video recorder. Even if the groups are linked, I am not sure of the significance of this, except that the fates of the the CPT four and the fate of Jill Carroll might be entwined.

Last week in Meeting I found myself praying unusually intensely for them all again, and this time my prayer took a new direction. The previous week, I had puzzled over why there was no news, and what the motivation could possibly be for keeping them hostage so long. I searched and searched for a way to make sense of it all, but still could not find a clear explanation. So then last week, still not sure I could understand what was really going on, I found my prayer taking a new form: whatever the reasons for still holding them, I prayed for cracks in that resolve -- cracks in which love (or satyagraha -- soul force) could gain a foothold. I imagined soul force as being much like bread dough, but stronger -- filling in the cracks and pushing them further open.

I sensed that there were cracks -- that someone or several among those holding them hostage might be having doubts about whether it was a good idea, or whether more good might be gained from letting them go. So I lent my strength to the soul force, leveraging those cracks open a bit more. I tried to empower the four with strengthened faith and insight to keep blazing the power of their soul force ever stronger. If those cracks could be pried open enough, then they could come out alive.

So to hear this news this week is amazing to me. Something new is happening. On the video, they are dressed in their own clothes -- not the orange jumpsuits. Somehow I find this hopeful. But my hope is cautious. It is tempered with dismay that the demands are just as impossible as before, and that the threat of killing them was explicit.

We must all keep praying.


  1. I thought the lack of audio might be significant in a different way (I didn't actually view the video, though, just read about it in the press). What occurred to me is that maybe they weren't saying quite the "right" things from the point of view of their captors. I wondered if there is any possibility of figuring out what they were saying by analyzing the video (i.e. "lip reading").

  2. I find this particular imagery helpful:

    ...I prayed for cracks in that resolve -- cracks in which love (or satyagraha -- soul force) could gain a foothold. I imagined soul force as being much like bread dough, but stronger -- filling in the cracks and pushing them further open.

    Thank you.

    Liz, The Good Raised Up

  3. To Rich - Yes, I had thought of that possibility too. But then I learned that Al Jazeera has a policy of airing the videos without sound, because hearing them too can be too distressing. So, that answers that question, I guess. Also, given what I've learned and reflected on in my most recent posting (Feb. 1), I'm also guessing that the kidnappers would not have released the videos at all unless the hostages had said the "right" things. (Sigh.)

    To Liz - Yes, I was very glad to have been led into this new way of praying about the situation. At least, I hope it was that I was led. I hope that there still is hope! Despite the statistics and sobering analyses I have delved into, what I keep coming back to is that they (the kidnappers) are human beings. There must be some way of reaching that of God in them.

  4. Thank you for this post. I too am continuing to pray, and your images are valuable.

  5. I've found links to all of the previous CPT videos unaltered, and they all have audio. It was my suspicion that the audio was not broadcasted by major news outlets as a way of disempowering the captors from propagating their message in full.

    I have not yet found a link to the most recent video, but I am still searching.

  6. Thank you, Amanda!

    And thank you, John. Your theory that broadcasting the videos without audio is a way of disempowering the captors fits in with the analyses I was reading and posted about yesterday.

    Also, I have very much appreciated your website -- it is the first place I go to check for updates each morning. Thank you (and Chuck) so much for keeping the rest of us informed!

  7. Thank you for this hope and incredible image of soul force at work. I have a lot of hope and continue to pray.