Images of imprisonment appear throughout the Psalter, where the psalmist turns to God as refuge in order to exit the pit of despair. Similar to the life of Omar Ibn Said, and the opera which tells his story, images of shelter and succor help the psalmist escape the abyss of embattlement, imprisonment, or depression, and nurture the attitudes of care, trust, and hope that crest in Psalm 146 and the Hallelujah psalms.
The masters of the demon possessed slave girl in Philippi provide a powerful example of the politics of fear in action. Paul’s reticence to heal the girl and face the likely repercussions in this instance contrasts with the courage of the recently deceased Daniel Berrigan.
Within many criminal justice systems, deterrence is a significant element of the rationale of imprisonment. However, Paul’s letter to the Philippians reveals the emboldening power of imprisonment for faithful witness. The example set by courageous leaders who will risk imprisonment for the sake of truth and justice continues to have great power, even within our contemporary situation.