Captivity: 118 Days in Iraq and the Struggle for a World Without War Hardcover – Apr 19 2011
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"This incredible story captures all the beauty and the ugliness that we humans are capable of. It is a reminder that grace is big enough to set both the oppressed and the oppressors free. It is a heart-wrenching and timely invitation to become extremists for love in a world where hatred often hijacks the headlines."
—Shane Claiborne, author of The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical and Jesus For President
"During 118 days of agonizing and terrifying Captivity, James Loney strained to see the humanity in his captors; to see himself through the other's eyes, to see even the work of peacemaking with that radical sympathetic doubt which is the heart of peacemaking. . . . His riveting story illuminates the potential that impassioned commitment to non-violence may yet hold for human and planetary survival."
—Kathy Kelly, peace activist, author and three-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize
"An exquisite testimony to the human spirit and the healing that comes through forgiveness of those who have wronged us, and an uplifting reminder of the excellent work being done by the Christian Peacemaker Teams around the world. Anyone who wishes to live in a world of peace and justice should read this book to understand the central role of love and generosity in global healing."
—Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of Embracing Israel/Palestine and editor of Tikkun
"[Captivity] is a book about freedom, the freedom of all human beings to decide on how we will respond to the conditions around us. Loney's integrity throughout his 118 days as a captive in Iraq, his indomitable spirit, his refusal to succumb to hate, his capacity to humanize his captors, his faithfulness to his comrades in Captivity, his refusal to yield to anything but compassion-all testify to an extraordinary mensch."
—Farid Esack, Islamic Liberation Theologion and Head of Religion Studies, University of Johannesburg
"Jim Loney is one of the toughest and most gentle prophets on behalf of justice and peace in North America today, an amazing blend of idealist and realist. His kidnapping as part of a Christian Peacemaker Team in Iraq in 2005 represented a watershed moment for those experimenting with a non-violent presence in warzones, and the profound lessons he draws in this book are deeply personal and political. An epic and exemplary story."
—Ched Myers, author of Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark's Story of Jesus
About the Author
James Loney is a Canadian peace activist, writer and member of Christian Peacemaker Teams. Based in Toronto, he has served on violence-reduction teams in Iraq, Palestine and First Nations communities in Canada. In November 2005, he was kidnapped along with the CPT delegation he was leading and held hostage for four months. One member of the group was murdered, an American named Tom Fox. The surviving three were released in a military operation led by British special forces.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
How do you create peace in the center of unrelenting violence and despair? How do you live day after day with fear? How do you deal with the boredom of captivity, shackled to the same people in the same room, navigating their coping strategies even as you develop your own? How do you hold on to your values, principles and beliefs as your world condenses to a few square feet and the ever-present threat that even that may yet be lost? How, in the midst of all this, do you maintain any sense of humor let alone sanity? And how, ultimately, do you love the neighbor that's too close, (the fellow captive), and the enemy that's too strong (the captor)?
The questions that 'Captivity' elicited for me are bigger than Loney's experience. They forced me to reflect on where we're going as humans, and what it means to truly live faith in our time. It's a book that defies summary. It's a book that needs to be read.
I tell James that while reading his book I was struck with how real and how vulnerable the captors seem and how he reveals the captors human side when most people would want to write about how evil and horrific they are without including anything that would make them seem human. James tells me that he wanted to see his captors this way. He wanted to see their human side, to make a connection, to survive. I add that I had a difficult time reading the book because I felt like I was right there with him in captivity. At times this was fascinating, but at other times, frightening and I needed to take a break. I quickly add that this is what is great about reading the authentic writing of another's experience, I have the privilege of vicarious travel, taking a break, releasing myself from captivity, where he didn't.
James laughs, "That's what I tell people. While writing `Captivity', I used to get up every morning and go back to being kidnapped and held captive again." I laugh, too. James tells me most people don't laugh when he says that. I think I know why. What he experienced is too graphic to laugh about. Maybe they think it would be rude to laugh at another's misfortune.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It is a must read!
So that you, too, might perhaps experience this change of heart first hand as a reader, I won't tell you why I ending my reading with this conclusion but say simply that reading the acknowledgements after I finished the narrative made me realize the complex and beautiful web of peace people that surrounded James Loney, Norman Kember, Harmeet Singh Sooden, and Tom Fox, the American who didn't survive. Throughout my reading, I was haunted by the paradox that Jim mentions in the "Introduction," that the three who weren't murdered were rescued by the very institutions of war they work to abolish. From that paradox I realized anew the inescapable truth of the oneness of all humanity.
I've known Jim for years as a Catholic Worker colleague and I remember driving through dark and snowy Chicago streets to pray with the Christian Peace Team on that first awful night when the four were kidnapped. I followed the news stories, vigiled for their release, and read the sanitized versions of their ordeal, but didn't let myself think in particulars about what they might be going through. But Jim's honest rendering made me know with a hard knowing what it means to be a captive. Yes, there were the physical constraints of being chained and hungry and rarely able to bathe. Even more compelling to me were the wrenching days of living with guards who didn't speak English and could never be believed and the even harder task of living with the other captives. All four had been schooled in nonviolence and techniques for community living, but they still found it incredibly difficult to survive the strain of handcuffed and unrelenting togetherness. When I read the details--the weeks without toothbrushes and the filth of their prison--and the different ways each had of dealing with such a complete loss of freedom, I couldn't help asking how I would have coped. Would I have been able, as Jim did, to be angry and impatient but yet turn to God in faith? To massage my captor's sore muscles? Or would I have subsided into the deafly prison fog I know from Shoa literature and from my oral histories of peacemakers who serve time in US and European prisons?
Reading Jim's remarkable recall of the changes his spirit endured throughout the ordeal, the wrenching decisions he made, the grace that carried him through, was a life-changing experience. Thank you, Jim, for your candor in showing us the soul of a survivor.
I am still wrestling with its truth - it is profound and challenging.
`Junior' (the most abusive of Jim's captors) mimes being a suicide bomber and wiping out American soldiers - they had killed his family in the bombing of Fallujah. Jim is mortified, and finally finds a way to give Junior hope and a desire to go on living - back massages.
Junior whispers in tears on his prayer mat - his 17 year-old sister is dying. Jim, who is sick himself, and his fellow captives promise to pray for her. Junior is deeply grateful, and promises medicine, and eventual freedom.
Jim writes to the soldiers who `rescued' him, "I am unspeakably grateful... But the gun is still in charge and nothing has really changed. I have begun to see that there is no such thing as `American freedom' - there is only human freedom. The gun will never make us free (- it can only make us) a slave of fear, going around and around in a spiral of death, becoming more and more like the thing that we hate."
It is audacious to say to the one who has harmed you, no matter how seriously, "I forgive. I no longer hold you. You may go; your destiny is your own. You are free. Go without expectation, obligation or libation. Go with my blessing: May you be healed of your violence. May you be reborn in the knowledge of your forgiveness. May you start a joyous new life of giving life."
"When we forgave our captors, something extraordinary happened: the captivity suddenly made sense. It had a purpose. It had become a seed of healing, a seed of forgiveness."
I found all of that incredibly inspiring and close to my heart, with such activism the kind of activity I'd be considering if I weren't parenting. But reading Loney's experience of being hostage with three companions, and learning the stories and characters of his captors, was profound for me. I love his honesty, too, about the paradoxes involved.
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