When a life-splintering phone call stops the world and drains the sky of all its light, how can comforting words be anything but confabulation, anything but fantasy and illusion?
In Led into Mystery, John W. de Gruchy addresses this question from the standpoint of his own grief as well as his theological sophistication. A South African well known for Bonhoeffer scholarship and for work on restorative justice and Christian humanism, de Gruchy reveals that his eldest son, Steve, himself a husband, father, and theologian, “tragically died in a river accident” early in 2010. The father writes that on first seeing where his son’s still unrecovered body had disappeared beneath the water, he was “inconsolable. I do not know how long I sat there and wept.”
The story is wrenching. Any heart—not least a pastor’s—quakes to hear it. And it tosses up, besides our sympathy, a cloud of anxiety and doubt. Such a loss could put anyone on the doorstep of despair.
Amy Frykholm on community health clinics, Barbara Brown Taylor on religious diversity, Brian Doyle on a machine gun.
Lord have mercy
Apr 09, 2015
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).