Friday, October 29, 2010

Christians and War, Part III: Justice After War

The just-war tradition is decidedly teleological. It is driven by the goal of a just peace, which is nothing less than at war's end the social, political, economic and ecological conditions are such that citizens of the offending country are able to flourish.  It is this vision of what the purposes of a just war are that has led some theorists to argue that in addition to the criteria of jus ad bellum (justice before war) and jus in bello (justice during war), there should be a set of jus post bellum (justice after war) criteria as well.  That is, not only must there be guidelines for going to war and for fighting wars, but there should be guidelines on what to do after a war is over.  While these criteria are anything but settled, a new book by Mark Allman and Tobias Winright lists four that are worth our consideration and debate: (1) resolution (which they refer to as "just cause"), (2) reconciliation, (3) punishment and (4) restoration. 

By resolution or just cause they mean that the result of any just war should entail reaching the objectives that served as the (just) cause for going to war in the first place.  Thus, the primary parties involved must be held accountable until their mission is accomplished (i.e., blasting away and then letting the offending country pick up the pieces afterward is unacceptable), and those parties involved in the war must be prevented from taking advantage of the vanquished country's weakness and seeking additional (and unwarranted) gains.

Allman and Winright also believe that there cannot be a just peace without reconciliation. However, they are emphatic there call for reconciliation "is not about cheap grace or taking a 'forgive and forget' approach. [Rather] it involves acknowledgment of wrongdoing, admission of responsibility, punishment, forgiveness and perhaps amnesty.  Ideally, reconciliation should lead to the return of the offending party to communion. The goal is justice tempered by mercy" ("When the Shooting Stops").

That said, they also believe that the guilty should be punished for their crimes. Such punishment, they argue, should should be carried out with transparency, proportionality and by authorities other than those who led the war, so that the war's victors are not seen as acting as judge, jury and executioner. This way those meting the punishment are seen as legitimate and the punishment itself as just.

Finally, Allman and Winright argue that the goal of a just war should also involve the restoration of the offending country to wholeness so that citizens of that country can live lives that are meaningful and dignified. Thus restoration involves practical matters such as providing security through policing and the rule of law, enabling the host government to promote the common good and provide basic services, fostering economic recovery, providing rehabilitation for those victimized by the war (and events that led up to it) and removing unexploded devices and munitions to prevent injuries in the future.

As noted above theorists are just in the beginning stages of hammering out what jus post bellum criteria might look like. Nevertheless, they are certainly food for thought as the U.S. seeks to extricate itself from Iraq and Afghanistan. We surely do not want to leave until we can assure the Iraqis and Afghanis a "just peace."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Midterm Elections Redux

In an earlier post on the midterm elections, I predicted that the Republicans would gain control of the House but not the Senate (although they would make it very close). My sense is that with a week to go before the election, nothing has occurred to alter this predictions. The Republicans will gain control of the House; the only question now is, "By how much?" The last data I saw, suggested that when the dust settled the Republicans would hold somewhere around 235-240 of the 435 seats (currently, the Democrats hold 255). 

As far as control of the Senate goes, Republican control hinges largely on whether in California the Republican challenger, Carly Fiorina, can upset the incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer, which at the moment seems unlikely. Regardless of the outcome, it looks like the Senate will have a new Majority Leader because the current one, Harry Reid (from Nevada), will probably lose his reelection bid. Who will take his place is hard to say -- Diane Feinstein, perhaps -- probably not, but it will be interesting to see what happens. 

Just as interesting is whether Charlie Crist will catch Marco Rubio in the race for the Florida Senate seat (probably not) and whether Republican Lisa Murkowski (running as an independent) will beat the official Republican (and Tea Party) candidate Joe Miller (possibly).

As one of my friends likes to say, we will see what we will see...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Christians and War, Part II: The Just War Tradition

In its early years the Christian Church was predominantly pacifist, but as it was transformed from a minority religion to the official religion of the land, it became impractical for it to remain pacifist. The just war criteria arose, in part, because of this transformation, but the just war tradition not only sets itself over against pacifism but also over against more brutal forms of war.  As Michael Walzer points out in his book, Arguing About War (“The Triumph of Just War Theory (and the Dangers of Success)"), that from the start, “the theory had a critical edge: soldiers (or, at least, their officers) were supposed to refuse to fight in wars of conquest and to oppose or abstain from the standard military practices of rape and pillage after the battle was won.” Not much has changed over the centuries. Today, just war theorists still find themselves standing between two sets of theorists: pacifists, for whom war is a crime, and realists, “for whom ‘all’s fair in love and war’: inter arma silent leges (in time of war, the laws are silent)” (Walzer, "Introduction,” Arguing About War).

The just war criteria can be grouped into two sets of criteria: Those that govern the decision to go to war (jus ad bellum) and those that govern the conduct of war (jus in bello). More recently, some, such as Michael Walzer ("Introduction,” Arguing About War) and Mark J. Allman and Tobias L. Winright (“When the Shooting Stops”) have argued for a third set of criteria, jus post bellum (justice after the war), that address the theory and practice of peacemaking, military occupation and political reconstruction. I only discuss the first two below since there is little consensus over whether the third set of criteria should be included, and, if so, what they should be. I will probably return to this third set of criteria in a later post, however.

Jus ad bellum

1.      Legitimate Authority – This criterion asserts that only legitimate authorities may wage war.  The Christian just war tradition has tended to understand legitimate authority rather broadly.  It argues that authority over matters of life and death belongs to God, and God has shared this authority with the governing powers, which is why governing authorities may wage war. Examples of legitimate authorities include individuals who rule through “dynastic dissent” (e.g., kings, queens, etc.) and democratically elected officials.  An exception to this general rule is that officials who have gained their authority through legitimate means but are “bad” rulers (e.g., tyrants), forfeit their claim to legitimacy. Examples of illegitimate authorities include wars waged by private citizens (e.g., militia groups), bandits and privateers and rebellion against one’s own sovereign. An exception to this rule is that rebellion is permitted when the sovereign has lost claim to his or her legitimacy because they are tyrants or they lie. Furthermore, only soldiers under oath and under control of a sovereign can fight.  Similarly, mercenaries are not allowed to participate in war unless it is for a cause they know is just.  Clergy, the religious, and penitents are excluded from fighting, except individuals who are members of military religious orders (it used to be that a man who killed another, even in a just war, was not allowed to become a priest).

2.      Just Cause – This criterion holds that a war may be fought for only a just cause, that is a justifiable, defensible and morally necessary cause (given the alternatives).  To be just the offense must be actual and verifiable, intentional and of substantial importance (i.e., it cannot be a trivial cause).  Furthermore, an offense cannot be provoked; that is, a queen or president can’t goad someone into committing an offense so that they can then declare war.  The offense may be an aggression necessitating defense, a threat demanding deterrence (e.g., WMD’s), or an injustice demanding reparation (e.g., the Holocaust). It can be committed against a third nation, against either an ally or innocent subjects on whose behalf a legitimate authority intervenes. Just war theorists often disagree about when intervention on behalf of an oppressed population is legitimate. Walzer believes that the presumption must be against intervention, but he admits that there are times when the evil being committed is so great (e.g., the Holocaust) that intervention is necessary.

3.      Right Intention, Right Motivation – This criterion states that in order for a war to be just it must be fought with a right intention. The ultimate goal must be the restoration of a just peace.  Wars can’t be fought for national honor or territorial, economic aggrandizement and so on. It also must be fought with the right motivation. There needs to be genuine concern for the victims of the offense as well as love for the enemy, which is why demonstrating mercy after victory is sometimes listed by some as a criterion. Examples of inadmissible motivation include hatred, revenge, cruelty, love of violence or material gain. In other words, a cause may be justified, but participation in it may still be sinful if the intention or motivation is wrong in any one of these ways.

4.      Last Resort – The just-war tradition contends that war must be the last resort, only after everything else has been tried or considered.  Of course, how one defines “everything else” is somewhat problematic and subject to much debate since there is almost always something else that can be tried.  Generally, what theorists have in mind is that the government needs to make a good faith effort to avoid war through negotiation, mediation, arbitration, appeals to international tribunals, cooling off period(s), and formal declaration of war, preceded by a warning and followed by time for the “offending party” to sue for peace. If all of these are sincerely tried (and fail), then most just war theorists would say that a good faith effort has been made.

5.      Probability of Success – Finally, in order for a war to be just, success must be probable. If the wrong can’t be righted by going to war, there is no point in going to war.  Of course, it is not always that straightforward when it comes to estimating the probability of succeeding. Sometimes, wars that look easy to win turn out to be much more difficult than anticipated.

Jus in bello

1.      Proportionality – Once war begins the punishment must be proportionate to the offense (an eye for an eye…). Thus, the means used must be indispensable and necessary. Any intended destruction inflicted on the enemy must serve the stated ends of the just cause. We cannot destroy an enemy battalion simply because we can or because we seek a postwar advantage in further weakening the enemy. In short, unnecessary combat must be avoided even in a just cause.  Put simply, there should be no unnecessary death or wanton destruction. We can’t poison wells or rivers, plant land mines, and/or bomb or profane places of worship or sanctuary.  Furthermore, the enemy must always be allowed to sue for peace. We can’t kill an enemy who has surrendered. Other considerations often included under this criterion are that cease-fire agreements must be respected, occupied populations should be governed justly, and we can’t improperly use truce flags, enemy uniforms, or distinctive badges of groups such as the Red Cross, in order to lull the enemy into an ambush.

2.      Non-Combatant Immunity/Dignity of Life – This criterion argues that the means used in war must protect the innocent (non-combatants). Armies must not intentionally or directly kill non-combatants.  During a just war, they have an obligation to distinguish combatants from non-combatants and seek to minimize noncombatant death. This criterion, of course, essentially rules out obliteration bombing or the dropping of atomic bombs.  Noncombatants include all who are not considered a threat: (1) women (traditionally), children (traditionally), the elderly and the infirm, (2) clergy, the religious and foreigners, (3) unarmed individuals pursuing ordinary vocations, and (4) soldiers who are on leave or have become prisoners of war.  Noncombatants include all of the above not just those who oppose their country’s participation in the war (e.g., German women and children who supported Germany during WW II would still be considered non-combatants who should be protected from the waging of war).

It is important to note that in order for a war to be just, all of the criteria must be met, a point that is often lost in debates over whether a particular war is just or unjust. Students of mine at Santa Clara often fell into this trap. Anxious to prove that a particular war was unjust, they would attempt to argue that it was unjust on all counts (i.e.., in terms of all seven of the criteria). This led them to sometimes make poor arguments concerning one criterion that took away from the force of their arguments concerning the other criteria.

The fight against terrorism raises its own issues, in particular to the notion of noncombatant immunity since terrorists tend not to make such a distinction and often hide in places that makes targeting them without incurring collateral damage impossible. I will need to take this issue up in a later post since it deserves an extended discussion.

Three books worth considering if you are interested in exploring this topic further are (1) John Howard Yoder’s, When War is Unjust (Yoder was a pacifist but held the just-war tradition in high regard and taught a class on it for ROTC students when he was at Notre Dame), (2) Darrel Cole’s, When God Says War is Right (a somewhat more conservative take on the just war tradition), Michael Walzer’s, Just and Just Wars (considered a classic by many).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Is Islam a Religion of Peace?

I happened across a wonderful resource this morning on the way to work: Intelligence Squared, which is a UK based organisation that stages debates around the world.  The debates are held in the traditional Oxford Style, with as many as 2,500 people attending some events. Typically, those attending vote prior to and after a debate, and the winning debate team is decided by which way the vote swings.  So, for instance, if prior to the debate the audience favors the propositions by 55% but after only 51% favor it, then the opposing team is considered to have won the debate.  The debate I listened to this morning was hosted by Intelligence Squared US, and the proposition under consideration was, "Islam is a Religion of Peace." A team of two individuals argued for the proposition and a team of two argued against it. Those arguing in favor were Zeba Kahn and Maajid Nawaz; those arguing against it were Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Douglas Murray. Here's their bios from the Intelligence Squared US website:

Zeba Kahn is a writer and advocate for Muslim-American civic engagement. Born and raised in Ohio by devout Muslim parents, she attended Hebrew school for 9 years all while actively participating in her local Muslim community. In 2008, she launched Muslim-Americans for Obama, an online network to mobilize Muslim-American voters in support of the Obama presidential campaign. Since then, she continues to work on issues of Muslim-American civic engagement and was recognized for her work by the American Society for Muslim Advancement as a 2009 Muslim Leader of Tomorrow.

Maajid Nawaz is director of the Quilliam Foundation. Formerly, Nawaz served on the UK national leadership for the Islamist party Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), and was involved in HT for almost 14 years. He was a founding member of HT in Denmark and Pakistan and eventually served four years in an Egyptian prison as a “prisoner of conscience” adopted by Amnesty International. In prison, Maajid gradually began changing his views until finally renouncing the Islamist Ideology for traditional Islam and inclusive politics.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia and raised a devout Muslim. She escaped an arranged marriage by immigrating to the Netherlands in 1992 and served as a member of the Dutch parliament for 3 years. She has since become an active critic of fundamentalist Islam, an advocate for women's rights and a leader in the campaign to reform Islam, establishing the AHA Foundation in 2007.

Douglas Murray is a bestselling author and award-winning journalist. He is also founder and director of the Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC), a non-partisan think-tank in Westminster, London, which focuses on radicalization and has published work on both Islamist and far-right extremism.

What's great is that anybody with access to the Internet can listen or watch this debate (or any of the Intelligence Squared US debates). Just click on the following link (i.e., "Islam is a Religion of Peace"), and you will be taken to the appropriate website where you can choose to watch the debate, listen to the debate or (for those of you in a hurry) listen to an edited version of the debate.  If you can, don't look at polling the results before listening to the debate. Also, check out all of the other debates available. It looks like there are some good ones.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Legalizing Abortion as Legislating Morality

It is common for critics of religious conservatives to accuse them of legislating morality, but such criticism not only reflects historical amnesia (Martin Luther King, Jr. was also accused of legislating morality by Southern segregationists) but also legal naiveté since all legislation is grounded in some underlying moral philosophy. As a former Senator (and law school professor) from Illinois once observed:
Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering the public square. Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, William Jennings Bryan, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King -- indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history -- were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their “personal morality” into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition
-- Barack Obama, 2006 (emphasis added
Keynote Speech, Call to Renewal (Sojourner’s Community) 

When I used to show this quote to my students while I was still teaching at Santa Clara University, very few of them knew who Senator Obama was at the time and may have mistaken him for cultural conservative. And, in their defense, the primary target of Obama’s remarks were progressives who Obama believed had abandoned “the field of religious discourse” and consequently been prevented “from effectively addressing issues in moral terms”:
If we truly hope to speak to people where they're at - to communicate our hopes and values in a way that's relevant to their own - then as progressives, we cannot abandon the field of religious discourse. Because when we ignore the debate about what it means to be a good Christian or Muslim or Jew; when we discuss religion only in the negative sense of where or how it should not be practiced, rather than in the positive sense of what it tells us about our obligations towards one another; when we shy away from religious venues and religious broadcasts because we assume that we will be unwelcome - others will fill the vacuum, those with the most insular views of faith, or those who cynically use religion to justify partisan ends. 
Much of the resistance on the part of progressives to embrace religious language lies in the belief that government should be neutral on moral questions. However, as Obama observed, when it comes to crafting legislation, the government is anything but morally neutral.

Take the abortion debate, for instance. Some believe that abortion should be made illegal because it involves the taking of an innocent life. Others argue that the government should remain neutral on the question, that it shouldn’t take sides and allow women to decide for themselves. However, as the Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel notes, 
This argument does not succeed. For, if its true that the developing fetus is morally equivalent to a child, then abortion is morally equivalent to infanticide. And few would maintain that government should let parents decide for themselves whether to kill their children. So the “pro-choice” position in the abortion debate is not really neutral on the underlying moral and theological question; it implicitly rests on the assumption that the Catholic Church’s teaching on the moral status of the fetus -- that it is a person from the moment of conception -- is false (Sandel, Justice, 251). 
Note that there is nothing in Sandel’s argument that precludes individuals from being pro-choice. However, it does argue that if they choose to be pro-choice, they acknowledge that are not being any more neutral than are those who choose to be pro-life:
It is not enough to say that the law should be neutral on moral and religious questions. The case for permitting abortion is no more neutral than the case for banning it. Both positions presuppose some answer to the underlying moral and religious controversy” (Sandel, 252). 
So, where does this leave us? At a minimum I hope it helps to highlight how on many issues, moral neutrality is a myth, and it behooves us to treat them as such. When we abandon our moral convictions (and demand that others do the same) in discussions of what is good and just and right, we deprive ourselves (and others) of resources that may help us resolve some of the problems that confront us today.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Religious Freedom and Religious Violence

In a previous post I referenced a paper by Tony Gill that documents how various government regulations imposed by local governments have restricted the ability of churches to build and/or expand their meeting facilities and increased the general cost of doing business.  Now, a soon-to-be-released book by Brian Grim and Roger Finke (The Price of Freedom Denied) highlight some other costs that restrictions on religious liberty impose on societies as a whole. In short, what they found is when religious freedoms are denied or taken away, violence and religious persecution are likely to increase. 

Since the book hasn't been released I haven't had the opportunity to read it, but David Briggs has provided a nice summary of the book in his on-line column, "Ahead of the Trend."  To quote from the abstract of his column:
"The temptation to restrict religious freedom, whether it is to prevent a Florida pastor from burning Qurans or a church being built near a residential neighborhood, can be difficult to resist. Governments contemplate the strife committed in the name of religion, or the costs of upholding religious freedoms, and see restrictions as a way to serve the public good. Yet it is the act of restricting religion, not the presence of diverse groups of faiths, that most likely leads to religious persecution and violence, Brian Grim of the Pew Research Center and Roger Finke of Pennsylvania State University point out in a new book examining "The Price of Freedom Denied." In the latest Ahead of the Trend, religious liberty scholars explore why the free exercise of religion cannot be taken for granted."
Briggs's columns, I should add, are worth checking out on a regular basis because they provide short (but complete) summaries of recent research on interesting topics in a way that non-experts can understand. They also dispel many of the myths about religion that pass for conventional wisdom among many folks these days.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On the Heartache of Brooks Conrad

Although I'm a SF Giants fan, my heart just aches when I watch replays of the errors that Atlanta 2nd baseman Brooks Conrad made that allowed the Giants to win the third game of the National League Division Series playoff.  In college and minor league ball I had my share of errors that cost my team the game, and I remember how sometimes I wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out. I can't imagine what it must feel like to do that in a playoff game, in front of 40,000 fans and on National TV (just imagine what Bill Buckner must have felt like after he made that error in the 1986 World Series!).

I just hope that Conrad's errors don't end up defining who he sees himself to be. Some professional athletes never seem to recover from things like this. An old teammate of mine from my playing days in Alaska, pitcher Tom Niedenfuer of the Los Angeles Dodgers, was never the same (i.e., he wasn't as effective a pitcher) after Jack Clark hit a key homer off him in the playoffs back in the mid-1980s.

I only hope that in the end Conrad realizes that there is more to life than baseball.  It's a great game, but it's still just a game.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Facebook, Social Networking and Social Network Analysis

When I tell folks that one of the subjects that I teach is “Social Network Analysis,” most (not all) mistakenly confuse this with social networking, Facebook and the like. While it is true that the network of individuals, groups and organizations that are a part of Facebook constitute a social network, it is only one type of social network that folks like myself study.
What is social network analysis? Well, it would be misleading to suggest that there is a unified social network theory. Instead, it is better to view social network analysis (SNA) as a loose collection of theories and methodologies that analysts use to better understand and predict social behavior.  A key assumption of SNA is that our behavior is profoundly affected by our ties to others and the networks in which we are embedded.  And it isn’t just our direct ties that affect our beliefs and behavior; our indirect ties affect them as well. Indeed, social network theories assume that our structural location (i.e., where in a social network we find ourselves – center, periphery, member of core group, social isolate, and so on) affects what we say and do.
For instance, we are much more likely to join a church, mosque, secular movement, etc. to which we have a tie (i.e., we know someone) than we are to one that we don’t.  I believe it was the Presbyterian Church USA that found that 85% of the individuals they surveyed (who attended Presbyterian churches) joined the particular church to which they belong because they already knew someone. Similarly, Marc Sageman found in his study of terrorist networks that 83% of the folks who joined what he calls the global salafi jihad (what most folks refer to as Al-Qaeda and Al-Qaeda related groups) joined through personal ties (friendship, kinship, mentorship). And, these percentages keep showing up, whether they are studies of other religious movements such as the Mormons or secular ones such as the Civil Rights movement.  
Researchers have also found that we are more likely to be happy if we have friends who are happy (or friends of friends who are happy), we are more likely to be obese if we have friends who are obese (or friends of friends who are obese), and we are more likely to get divorced if we have friends who have gotten divorced (or friends of friends who have gotten divorced).
SNA differs from other more traditional approaches to data analysis because while the latter tends to focus on attributes (e.g., race, ethnicity, gender, age, education level), SNA focuses more on the pattern of relationships. The reason for this is simple: while peoples’ behavior often changes from one social context to the next, their attributes do not. Thus, we cannot explain such changes in behavior in terms of their attributes. What does change, however, is the social context (i.e., the pattern of relationships) in which their behavior occurs, and SNA is one method of empirically mapping social context.  This is not to say that social network analysts regard attributes as unimportant.  Nevertheless, most do believe that the patterns of ties in which actors find themselves is a very important factor in understanding and predicting behavior and beliefs.
One of the most entertaining introductions to the power of social networks can be found in the book by Nicholas Christakis, M.D. and James Fowler, Ph.D., Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives (London: Little, Brown and Company).  Unlike a lot of the more technical introductions, this one targets a popular audience, making it highly readable. If you’re unsure whether you want to plunk $$s down on a book just now, you may want to check out the 18-minute talk that Christakis gave last February at the prestigious TED talks:

Two other books worth considering are Albert-Laszlo Barabasi’s
Linked: The New Science of Networks (Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing) and Duncan Watts’s Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age (New York: W. W. Norton & Company).

The Capitalist Impulses of Anti-Capitalist Elites

In talking with folks who are in positions of inviting guest speakers in for various events, I am often surprised at the size of the fees that some speakers command. A number of these well-paid speakers, in particular those on the left side of the political spectrum (I should stress that not all liberals are anti-capitalist), are often not the least bit shy about expressing their disdain for capitalism. Isn't it interesting how they ignore their disdain for the market when it comes to marketing their own services?

While I certainly don't expect them to live a life of poverty, one might hope that if they truly feel that capitalism is evil, that rather than charging all the market will bear for their appearances, they would only charge for expenses incurred (i.e., travel, hotels, etc.). While this wouldn't undermine the market system, it would send a signal that they are not going to play by its rules if they don't have to.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

On the Redemption of Michael Vick

In the Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis tells a story about a man who lived a good Christian life but refuses to enter into heaven because he discovers that murderers, thieves and even a former enemy of his are welcome there as well. The man complains about "bleeding charity" and demands "his rights." This story, I think, is Lewis's answer to the biblical injunction that unless we forgive, we will not be forgiven. Lewis seems to be saying that all of us are welcome at God's table, but so are repentant murderers and thieves, and we have to be willing to live with that. Thus, it is not so much that we are turned away from God's Kingdom because of our unwillingness to forgive as much as it is that we turn ourselves away.

I think of Lewis's story when I reflect upon the reaction that some have had to the return of Michael Vick to professional football.  As many of you know Vick was an All-Pro quarterback before he was imprisoned for his role in an illegal dog-fighting ring. After spending 21 months in prison, he signed a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. He spent a year playing behind quarterback Donovan McNabb and has now apparently won the starting quarterback position for the Eagles (McNabb was traded tom the Washington Redskins in the offseason)

Not everyone is happy about this. Choruses of boos greeted Vick's return to football, and it is my sense that there are many who would be quite happy if he never played another down in his life. Frankly, I'm not sure what more he can do. He has paid his debt to society and has expressed regret for what he did. And while I can't judge the sincerity of his repentance, I'm fairly certain that he's more than welcome at God's table. The question, it seems to me is: Are the rest of us are ready to join him?