One of John Updike’s novels features a listless minister who spends most of his time at afternoon tea parties. Updike says this about the man’s spiritual condition: “God had become for him like a raisin under the car seat, there but forgotten.” In Paradise Mislaid, Jeffrey Burton Russell concludes that heaven has been similarly misplaced in modern Western culture. A vague notion of heaven remains, but its core meaning has long since been forgotten.
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).