Wednesday, 27 July 2016
My admiration for Father Gomez is unstinting. Here is a man who seamlessly blends his spiritual and social commitments. Pastor Deubel had persuaded twenty people to try to burn down Nantucket. The Pastor and two of his congregation have committed suicide. What should the Town Meeting do with the remaining eighteen? It is distasteful to hang them and too expensive to imprison them.
Solution: exile them for at least a year to gather salt on Inagua, where their staple diet will be flamingo. See image. A ship will collect salt and leave supplies once a month. How will it be known whether or when the convicted arsonists are safe to rejoin civilized society? Father Gomez will go with them, leaving his Catholic parish in the care of Father Connor! Gomez will try to reason with the prisoners and will at least be able to judge whether they have changed their thinking.
But imagine spending a year or more in exile with eighteen people like that! They will probably reject Gomez's Catholic ministry so he will be without coreligionists for the entire period of his voluntary exile. I imagine that Poul Anderson's Wodenite Jerusalem Catholic priest, Father Axor, would be capable of making a similar commitment. I would do it maybe if the Town Meeting asked/delegated me to. After all, gathering salt and watching the prisoners are important tasks and there would be plenty of time for meditation on an island in the Bahamas.