Martyrdom appears so utterly alien to our time because postmodern theorists have reduced the truth claims of Western Christianity to private opinion, making any reference to ultimate truth unbelievable and certainly unverifiable. So asserts Brad S. Gregory in his impressive study of 16th-century martyrs and persecutors. Postmodern views, he declares, conclude that both the martyrs and their persecutors mistook for truth the necessarily tentative character of their cultural constructions. Gregory contends that such an approach will not help us understand the early modern Christians who were willing to kill and to die for religious belief. He wants to take martyrdom on its own terms because "the distinctiveness of religion demands methodological astuteness if we want to understand its practitioners, lest we misconstrue them from the outset. . . .
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).