On every Lenten journey many people stumble over the paradox of the Christian story. Jesus’s death saves the world, and it ought not to have happened. It fulfills prophecy, but it was the work of sinners. It is a “good bad thing.” The attempt to give the crucifixion a general moral (die to self, be faithful to the end) runs the risk of simply baptizing all bad things, as if with the right approach they too can be good things.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).