Lent is a season that marks time as the church processes toward Good Friday. Christians give up luxuries and fast for forty days as a means of mourning and repentance. Historically, Lent has been a period of painful reflection for me, and it was in this season that I wrote “Holy Fuck: Homily Left Without Deliverance” as well as a sermon focusing on the military significance of Naphtali and Zebulun; “Those Treading in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light.”
One year, as an undergrad taking Arabic, I gave up speaking during the daylight hours in order to better appreciate the Islamic holiday of Ramadan, a month-long fast that begins at sunrise and ends at sundown. Being silent, especially as a white, heteronormative cis-male, was instructive. Sometimes people like me need to be quiet.
But sometimes silence is a luxury. Sometimes, silence is a betrayal.
In the past couple of years, my advocacy for veterans, as a veteran, has exposed me to a troubling underbelly of culture, both American and Christian; I have been vilified by pacifists and venerated by patriots, but in each instance I am made anything but human. So this year for lent, I am giving up silence. I will be sharing the painful experiences I have had as a veteran speaking up for veterans. I won’t be silent anymore, because I can’t ask other veterans to speak up if I am not willing to take that risk myself. I am not willing to protect harmful institutions or passively participate in unjust power structures.
I’ll start lent by sharing my experience as a Duke veteran, which I’ve disclosed some of here, here, and here. But the PDF linked is the undiluted version, which I’ve shared with the individuals named therein, and who have denied ecclesiastical recourse. I may blog about the context in the future, namely the federal investigation that is currently underway, but for the moment, I need to repent of my own silent complicity.
May the kingdom of God be ever nearer.