An art of small resurrections : surviving the Texas death chamber

by Walter Cromer Long

Paper Book, 2010



Call number

CP 408


Wallingford, Pa. : Pendle Hill Publications, 2010.

User reviews

LibraryThing member kaulsu
The idea of retribution does not make sense to me. If someone I love is ever horribly victimized, I hope--I sincerely hope--that I will find some way to forgive the perpetrator. Yet, I can understand that this is not a necessarily a natural instinctive answer.

It is the Christian answer, though. I cannot understand how even one person who claims the mantel of the Christian religion can support the death penalty.

Walter Long suggests that to pray the Lord's prayer (Jesus's prayer), we stay in community with God and each other. Praying, we are not alone. Praying, we can find the strength to move onward.

Long quotes Martin Buber who wrote from a humanist point of view. He said,

"We know nothing of death, nothing other than the one fact that we shall die--but what is that, dying? We do not know. So it behooves us to accept that it is end of everything conceivable by us. To wish to extend our conception beyond death, to wish to anticipate in the soul what death alone can reveal to us in existence, seems to me to be a lack of faith clothed in faith" (p 24).

Speculative faith seems oxymoronic.
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LibraryThing member bookcrazed
Walter Long, an attorney with a practice in Austin, Texas, specializes in death-penalty cases. Long quotes historical documents to support his claim that, before Rome adopted Christianity as its official religion, Christians could not tolerate violence and specifically abhorred the death penalty.

To me, the most interesting (or should I say, startling) aspect of his essay is his proposal that the idea that Jesus died to save us was developed by the early Christian community as a way to deal with their shock at Jesus's death. Thus, he is maintaining that what many consider to be the cornerstone of Christianity -- the belief that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins -- was born from the post traumatic stress suffered by a nonviolent community when their leader was murdered. Citing modern psychological theory, he says that these early Christians needed to find some meaning in this tragic act of senseless violence.

Long stresses Jesus's teachings about forgiveness. He writes, "each act of self-forgiveness and forgiveness of others is a small resurrection -- a revivifying contact with others -- and a source of hope for a less violent, more just future."

As in all of the more recent pamphlets in this series, included at the end are Discussion Questions. What a rousing discussion this material could stimulate!
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LibraryThing member QuakerReviews
This wonderful pamphlet addresses the contrast between Jesus' message of fearless compassion and the peaceable kingdom, with the Christian doctrines of atonement (Jesus' death by execution as necessary atonement for human sin) that present God demanding retribution for human sin and responsible for the execution of Jesus. The very most wonderful part, however, is Long's explanation of his use of the Lord's prayer as a spiritual practice, which has helped him to endure his traumatizing work as a death penalty appeals attorney. He sees each act of forgiveness of self and others as a small resurrection and a source of hope for a less violent and more just future.… (more)



Local notes

Pendle Hill Pamphlet 408

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Call number

CP 408


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