Volume 35, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2015
Looking through the Bars
Immigration Detention and the Ethics of Mysticism
Detention, a pillar of the contemporary US immigration system, has detrimental effects on those who are incarcerated, their families, and their communities. Following a discussion of immigration detention and the ways in which faith-connected groups are responding, this essay draws on twenty in-depth interviews to explore the links between these ethical practices and the Christian mystical tradition. In particular, it brings the voices of activists responding to immigration detention into conversation with the three stages of the mystical journey articulated by Dorothee Soelle—being amazed, letting go, and resisting. The essay argues that mysticism and action for social justice are intimately interwoven, and it suggests that recognition of this could enrich Christian discussion and praxis surrounding immigration.