We're all perpetually longing for love. Fortunate are those who realize early that another human being can't meet this unrequitable need. Even more fortunate are men and women of prayer who realize that peace comes by embracing the longing itself.
Words of judgment are difficult to hear. Actually, I have no
trouble hearing how they apply to others. And when the preacher gives a logical
explanation of how the law applies to me, I understand it and nod my head in
agreement. But it often makes little connection with my heart and even less
with the way I live.
enemy curses me. No enemy raises fists at me. No enemy persecutes me.
No enemy hates me. I doubt anyone in the enemies of my state - Taliban
or Al-Qaeda - care much about a stay-at-home dad living in a suburb of
nothing in Texas. Frankly, I'm not important enough to have enemies in
this world, and I'm not doing anything important enough that might make
me any, either.
During college, I taped a
religious poster on my dorm room wall. Under a photo of a white country church
against a green, timbered hill were the words, "I lift up my eyes to the hills
from whence cometh my help."
I liked the Bible verse, the scene was pretty, and I enjoyed the peaceful
reminder of rural home places. But a friend who was knowledgeable in scripture
said the poster was theologically incorrect.
The highest incarceration rates in the United States are in red states, especially in the South, but some conservatives are having second thoughts about the war on crime launched by President Nixon. Among them is Chase Madar, former Virginia state senator and attorney general who was president of Prison Fellowship for ten years. Madar was persuaded that a new approach to crime is needed by visiting prisoners, seeing the conditions they live in, and discovering that virtually no rehabilitation of criminals is taking place. He now advocates the use of restorative justice, a plan that returns criminals to the communities where they committed their crimes to confess at public meetings and ask forgiveness (American Conservative, February 3).