A woman came to my house recently whose
husband I had helped put in jail the day before. One day she felt afraid of his
violence. The next she felt ambivalent about her choice, and she wanted my help
to get him out of jail. While I had helped her call the police, I wasn't
willing to pay his bond.
So most Jews know where Jesus was born, even though few Christians know
much about Buddhism. Jesus makes the cover of one general-interest
magazine or another ever month or so, and it only takes a couple
shopping trips between Thanksgiving and New Year's to accidentally
memorize the words to "O Little Town of Bethlehem."
It's easy—from the comfort of my desk, where I’m healthy, well fed and
securely employed—to experience a sense of "enough," as I wrote last week.
It’s easy to champion compassion, justice and peace (what's not to
like?), even when it puts me at odds with a few biblical texts.
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).