From the desk of Chris Barbera at Jesus the Liberator

April 6, 2021

In the first chapter of our first book, I gave examples of letters to prison inmates as a template for how to create a teaching method.  We found that if inmates use their time in a purposeful way, they can discover truths about themselves and existence.  

To Lori I wrote, “I was reading how the man of authority, King Nebuchadnezzar, fell prostrate before Daniel, the prophet, and said to him “Your God must be the God of gods, the master of kings and the Revealer of Mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery.” (Dn 2:47-48) Both you and Daniel share the experience of captivity and the capacity of penetrating the mysteries, with humility.  The titles of your papers reveal a direction of thought – “Purpose” and “Unlocking the Mysteries.”I read and listened to what Lori wrote, put it into the context of captivity, and offered it back to her.  Scriptural and education traditions seen through the experience and thought of 21st century American prison inmates, is a key to Prison Theology.

March 30, 2021

In our 2nd publication, Jelani Zulante wrote from solitary confinement that “I am beginning to realize that if I continue to reconstruct these mental delusions then I’d be writing for days, because I went places and did things and spent so much money and talked with loved ones long past and talked with God and communicated with people via mental telepathy.  I looked death in the eye and laughed on several different occasions.  And when the psychosis passed I found myself in a cell in Upstate Correctional Facility and I felt so utterly empty, alone and scarred and I, I wanted my psychosis back.  I really wanted it back…” 

Solitary confinement will legally end in its most extreme forms in New York State soon.  Spiritual witnesses like Jelani survived to tell the story of solitary confinement in the raw, emotional, experiential language of vision and delusion that is common with Judeo-Christian prophets like Jeremiah’s ladder and bread unto heaven from prison or Ezekiel’s spinning wheels.  What did the future convict on the run, Jesus, see in those days of fasting in the desert when the delusion of devils and hunger played upon his mind? 

Photo by John-Mark Smith on