The first days of Princeton Theological Seminary’s annual book sale are an academic feeding frenzy. Used copies of biblical commentaries, patristic texts and works by Aquinas, Luther and Calvin are quickly scooped up by eager seminarians. After two days of this, what’s mostly left are the “cutting-edge” religion books of the 1950s and ’60s—the dregs of retired pastors’ libraries that the next generation can do without.
Most of these books, having passionately defended a bygone mind-set, won’t even find a taker on the sale’s final day, when a box full of books can be had for five dollars. Titles like Episcopal bishop James Pike’s A Time for Christian Candor have one last modern cause to serve: they add to the pile labeled “recycling.” As the saying goes, he who marries the spirit of the age will soon become a widower.
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).