Running Heads

From the editors of Cascade Books and Pickwick Publications at Wipf and Stock Publishers

Sr. Helen Prejean

Today I went to a small event with Sr. Helen Prejean, an outspoken advocate against the death penalty. She is in Eugene for the opera of “Dead Man Walking.”

The opera follows her original book, the album, and the play.

I could recount much of here talk and answers to questions, but I want to focus on something she emphasized concerning the public discourse on the death penalty: it is about us. She recounted a death row prisoner who was asked by a prosecutor: “Can you give me one reason why we shouldn’t put you to death after you murdered four people?” He responded: “Yes, I can give you one reason: because you’re better than me.” This poignant exchange highlights that executions say as much—if not more—about us as a people who enact the death penalty than it does about the executed.

Years ago I belonged to a congregation that was supporting some refugee families from Cambodia. The one who organized their support was asked by a member of the congregation if these families were Christians. Her reponse was right to the point: “We are not helping these families because they are Christians, but because we are Christians.”

3 Comments

  1. The phrase “because we are Christians” encapsulates core spiritual motivation. Amen.

  2. cheryl smartnick

    May 15, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    There are some horrific crimes which are diabolical. And the diabolical needs to removed from the face of the earth and from humanity as we know it. Such are those cases as Gosnell, and man who held three young girls hostage for TEN years. Humanity requires that these individuals be removed and meet sooner rather than later, with their Judge.

  3. Cheryl, you are awfully bold to declare what humanity requires.

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