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When Redemption Is Real

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The title of this post is the title of a piece in NRO about Chuck Colson, one-time Nixon hatchet man.  Colson went to prison for his part in the Watergate scandal, and is probably best known now for starting Prison Fellowship, a group that purports to help rehabilitate inmates through Bible study.

I say "purports" because claimed rehabilitation is so often a sham.  Thus, as the article notes, the concept of redemption:

has been debased in our Tilt-a-Whirl media culture that can't distinguish between notoriety and fame. In contemporary America, redemption begins sometime between the first check-in into rehab and the first cable-TV interview, and reaches completion when everyone gets distracted by someone else's attention-grabbing disgrace.

What the article reminds us of, however, is that not every inmate is Lindsay Lohan, and not every claim of redemption is fraudulent.  

Colson left government after Nixon's reelection, feeling exhausted and empty. As the furor over Watergate grew, he visited a friend one night, a successful businessman who had converted to Christianity. The friend read a passage from C. S. Lewis: "Pride always means enmity -- it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God." Later, Colson sat in his car outside the house weeping alone in the darkness, not tears of sadness nor of joy, but "of relief."

When he realized that the exigencies of his legal defense were inconsistent with the forthrightness entailed by his new faith, he pleaded guilty and became Prisoner 23226 at Maxwell Federal Prison Camp in Alabama.

Today, Good Friday, might be the time to recall that, although claims of redemption are often hogwash and should be treated as such, "often" is not "always."



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