November Story: Saved by Beauty

I met a woman who was healed by beauty.  An alcoholic who spent fifteen years keeping the anger and bitterness of her heart anesthetized; a woman who sought abusive men because their anger, their fists somehow confirmed, and gave expression to the self-hatred within.  Until one morning, at thirty-eight years old, she woke up and noticed her house was in shambles and decided, for some mysterious reason, to clean it up.  She picked up clothes, did dishes, vacuumed floors, set the garbage outside, scrubbed toilets, and mopped floors.  Without any conscious intention, for the first time in a five years, she made it through morning and into late afternoon sober.  The experience was so strange and exotic that even though it was December, in the mountains of Southern Oregon, even though the air was cold and damp, she felt a burning desire to go outside.  She wanted to see what the outdoors felt like with her senses awake, without the dull blanket of alcohol. Read More

The Torture Game: A Visit with Louis Vitale

In President George Bush’s new book, Decision Points, he states that when asked about using waterboarding, an illegal interrogation method that the U.S. has historically classified as torture, Bush responded, “Damn right!”  In 2008, I visited with Father Louis Vitale, while he was locked in the Imperial County Jail, to discuss his protest of torture training conducted at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.  Vitale was particularly disturbed by what this training was doing to American soldiers.  He told me about Alyssa Peterson, a young U.S. Army interpreter who trained at Ft. Huachuca. She was sent as part of the interrogation team to one of the U.S. prisons in Iraq. After just two sessions in the cages, she committed suicide.  Here’s a story about my visit. (I also have published an article aimed at youth workers entitled “Lessons From a Holy Man”) Read More