I love a good mountaintop experience. It’s a moment when everything changes. Insight flares up in the mind, illuminating the moment, the experience, the problem in a whole new way. You’re never quite the same again.
One such moment for me happened in prayer when I was on a three-day silent retreat.
The Transfiguration has a hundred sermons in it; it is packed with hints about the identity of Jesus Christ, the relationship of the Trinity, and the story of salvation. But to me the most touching element is the subplot: a moment when three ordinary people are overwhelmed in the presence of greatness.
I grew up in Southern Baptist congregations. By the time I left high school I knew the four steps to salvation and the meaning of Jesus’ sacrificial death as a substitutionary atonement for my sins. I could articulate this understanding of salvation in clear and simple terms. Within the metanarrative of evangelical Christianity it made perfect sense and was logically coherent.
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).