Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Bonhoeffer. Just that one word, to those who know of his life and work, speaks volumes. Executed at 39 for his role in resisting Hitler, the German theologian's work continues to resonate across the decades.

Tonight, readying my house for a milestone birthday party, I happened to open a box of books. Inside was A Year With Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a selection of excerpts from his writings for daily mediation, published by HarperSanFrancisco in 2005. On the flyleaf was an inscription from Bishop Craig Johnson of the Minneapolis Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, wishing my wife, Diane, well on her acceptance of a call to Shepherd of the Valley, in Apple Valley, in 2007.

Jim Walllis’ excellent forward describes the Sermon on the Mount as a manifesto for a brave new world order called the Realm of God.

So I reread the Sermon on the Mount. And given the primary focus of this blog, I reread it with American criminal justice policy in mind.

The verse that jumped out at me was this: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

Why do we so rarely hear this word mentioned, in what passes for discussion of the proper response to crime in the U.S.?

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