Have you seen Of Gods and Men? Please do. At the core of this true story is a question not very many of us are willing to answer: What would you do in the face of certain death? A group of monks living peacefully with a Muslim community in Algeria sees its austere, inclusive way of life threatened by encroaching Islamist terrorism. Staying put means eventually getting slaughtered. Should they go and save their lives for more productive endeavors in other places, or should they stay and be martyrs to their faith? What does martyrdom mean, anyway, in the modern world? Before his death, the head of the order, Father Christian, pens a farewell letter that casts the monks' seemingly mad, foolhardy decision in a sempiternal, profoundly moving light.
Should it ever befall me, and it could happen today, to be a victim of the terrorism swallowing up all foreigners here, I would like my community, my church, my family, to remember that my life was given to God and to this country. That the Unique Master of all life was no stranger to this brutal departure. And that my death is the same as so many other violent ones, consigned to the apathy of oblivion. I've lived enough to know, I am complicit in the evil that, alas, prevails over the world and the evil that will smite me blindly.
I could never desire such a death. I could never feel gladdened that these people I love be accused randomly of my murder. I know the contempt felt for the people here, indiscriminately. And I know how Islam is distorted by a certain Islamism.
This country, and Islam, for me are something different. They're a body and a soul.
My death, of course, will quickly vindicate those who call me naïve or idealistic, but they must know that I will be freed of a burning curiosity and, God willing, will immerse my gaze in the Father's and contemplate with him his children of Islam as he sees them. This thank you which encompasses my entire life includes you, of course, friends of yesterday and today, and you too, friend of last minute, who knew not what you were doing. Yes, to you as well I address this thank you and this farewell which you envisaged. May we meet again, happy thieves in Paradise, if it pleases God the Father of us both. Amen. Insha'Allah.