1. A supremely powerful story about the forgiveness of one’s enemies over on CNN. It concerns Mark Anthony Stroman, a white supremacist on death row in Texas for a slew of hate crimes, including murder, that he committed just after 9/11. One of the men that he shot during his spree, a Muslim named Rais Bhuiyan, is publicly pleading for Stroman’s life, going so far as to travel Paris to ask the European Parliament to file a formal request that Texas commute Stroman’s sentence to life in prison, ht JD:
“In order to live in a better and peaceful world, we need to break the cycle of hate and violence. I believe forgiveness is the best policy, which helps to break this cycle,” he said, calling himself a victim of a hate crime. “I forgave Mark Stroman many years ago. I believe he was ignorant and not capable of distinguishing between right and wrong. Otherwise he wouldn’t have done what he did.”
“[Stroman's] attorney gave him the message that one of your victims is running this campaign to save your life,” he said. “He was reduced to tears. He couldn’t believe one of his victims would come forward and try to save his life.”
2. Speaking of pleading, actor Martin Sheen traveled to Washington this past week to urge Congress not to cut the funding of a program aimed at helping non-violent addicts find treatment (outside of prison). Obviously, this is an issue close to his heart, given his notorious son’s state these days. The final 40 seconds or so are particularly touching, a beautiful picture not only of a father’s love, but of a grateful/faithful soul, ht RC:
3. Ernest Hemingway’s biographer and friend A.E. Hotchner wrote a fascinating Op-Ed for The NY Times a couple of weeks ago, relating the great author’s troubles with the FBI during his final years, which coincided with several suicide attempts. The anguish is remarkable, and sadly, more than a little relevant to our project here, ht CB:
I visited [Hemingway] in June. He had been given a new series of shock treatments, but it was as before: the car bugged, his room bugged. I said it very gently: “Papa, why do you want to kill yourself?”
“What do you think happens to a man going on 62 when he realizes that he can never write the books and stories he promised himself? Or do any of the other things he promised himself in the good days?”
“But how can you say that? You have written a beautiful book about Paris, as beautiful as anyone can hope to write.”
“The best of that I wrote before. And now I can’t finish it.”
I told him to relax or even retire.
“Retire?” he said. “Unlike your baseball player and your prizefighter and your matador, how does a writer retire? No one accepts that his legs are shot or the whiplash gone from his reflexes. Everywhere he goes, he hears the same damn question: what are you working on?”
The most important thing to remember is that the death of Christ was in fact a death even for Christian failure. Christ’s death saves even Christians from sin. There is always room at the cross for unbelievers, it seems. But we ought also to be telling people that there is room at the cross for Christians, too.
Then there’s 2011 Conference speaker Mark Galli’s must-read over at Christianity Today, “The Most Risky Profession,” in which he nails the soul-crushing/-puffing culture that infects more of our churches (and institutions) than we would care to admit. Do your pastor (or Congressman) a favor and read it.
5. A couple of important movie trailers dropped this week. The first being that of Martin Scorsese’s first ever children’s film, Hugo. It’s predictably stunning, and the steampunk/Ali G vibe may even be enough to get me to spring for 3D… Then there’s The Amazing Spider-Man, which treads some well-worn ground, but seems to do so with considerably more angst than the Raimi trilogy. Interesting…
6. Mbird favorite Nick Lowe is getting ready to release a new record, The Old Magic, and the first single, “Checkout Time,” available for streaming at Rolling Stone, has him contemplating eternity in a refreshingly matter-of-fact way. Without forsaking his trademark wit, that is: “I’m fearful my chances of crossing over Jordan into glory may be compromised by the pies I’ve had my fingers in/Must I be condemned forever, damned for some long forgotten crime? Or singing ‘Rock of Ages’ with the angels soon after checkout time?” Lowe will be supporting Wilco, who released a cover of his “I Love My Label” last month, on their North American tour this Fall.
7. Finally, for all those of you going suffering from FNL withdrawal this week, and for whom Peter Berg’s hint of a big-screen sequel didn’t suffice:
BONUS TRACK: An inspired and ridiculously funny parody of Herzog reading Where’s Waldo?
We search for Waldo, but what is he searching for? Why all this travel?