Redeeming contact

This is a quick post to direct you over to Ruth Graham’s interesting piece in The New York Times about a man on death row who is trying to get permission (through a lawsuit) for his pastor to lay hands on him before he is killed.

Sister Helen Prejean is quoted in the article as an advocate for the inalienable dignity even of criminals saying, “You uphold the dignity of the human being, that everyone is worth more than the worst thing they’ve ever done.”

One thing that I find striking about this story is the spectrum of human contact.

The prisoner, John Henry Ramirez, stabbed a man named Pablo Castro 29 times. In a robbery that yielded $1.25, Ramirez slit Castro’s throat and stabbed his head, neck, and shoulders.

Now, Ramirez’s dying wish is for his pastor to lay hands on him.

He is scheduled to be killed in a few days by someone who will administer the lethal injection.

There is this spectrum of possibility with human contact from violence to healing, from crimes to caresses.

It might be unlikely for executioners to realize that there is contact in need of redemption.

Killing as punishment for violence brings no restoration, but one gesture of mercy could.

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