Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp can at times be an overcrowded but lonely place. There's a lot not to like here, but it's seldom overwhelmingly bad either. Think of it like the worst church camp ever, that you can't leave...for a long, long time. I've been here long enough that I'm beginning to want to make it better. That might be an exercise in futility, but it's worth a try. In a word, it needs love. Realistically that will be impossible for me or any one inmate to do, but I still wonder if there might be a way to collectively make it happen.
Theoretical love is meaningless; it has to be shared. Love has to be lived out with others. We know that in religion, if any group wants to spread its message, it has to live out love in small groups. If it can't do that, the message will never be believable, for love is a team sport. Jesus called it, "where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name".
But there is pervasive and powerful cultural evil in the world, in our country and certainly within the Bureau of Prisons. The apostle Paul writes about the institutional evils of "powers and principalities". Dwight Eisenhower warned of the "military industrial complex". Richard Rohr calls it "our collective cultural moods or mass consciousness or institutions considered too big to fail".
Rohr goes on to write, "We are most oblivious to this because we take all these things as normative and absolutely needed. It's the 'absolutely' that gets us into our blindness and idolatry. Because we share in this collective evil, it doesn't look evil." It does appear though there is a slow sense of awakening that our systems have run amuck--from corrupt unions to corporate greed. Our eyes are gradually opening to see crony capitalism, a bloated and inept government of career politicians and lobbyist and a religious establishment which perpetuates the status quo. Awareness is a welcome start, but won't alone solve these evils.
Cultural blind spots can only be overcome by communities of people who offer a radical and loving alternative--groups who shine the light of love even when it generates some heat. But can institutional evil mixed with religious indifference really be overcome by communities of love? Can we even bring a little love to Bastrop?
I honestly don't know, but it's our only shot.