This week I spoke at the State Capitol prior to other
religious leaders and I taking a petition to the governor’s office, asking him
to commute the sentences of the people on Arkansas’s death row. For him to do
so would be a powerful witness to the resurrection at the very time we
Christians celebrate Easter.
Back in Tennessee, when I was a teenager, at 4-H camp we had a darkroom, where we
would spend hours in that somewhat mystifying process of being surrounded by
pans of chemicals, turning negatives into photographs. Taking a photograph with
actual film is a different experience than holding up a cell phone. You plan
Spring weather is fast approaching, and I am getting anxious.
No, it is not the threat of tornadoes. It is the fact that I will be riding my
bike in Little Rock by a baseball, softball, and T-ball complex, with all those
kids out there getting ready either to impress or embarrass their parents. Yes,
it is anxiety producing, and here is why.
Arkansas churches will be filled on Easter Day, April 16. Yet
the next day this state will begin executing people. From April 17 through
April 28, the state of Arkansas plans to execute eight convicts on the state’s
Death Row. It is said to be the most concentrated execution schedule in the
United States since the re-introduction of the death penalty in 1977.
The Mississippi is a grand river. To the east and west of
its banks lies an incredibly fertile piece of American land: the Mississippi
River Delta. For a hundred miles into the states of Arkansas and Mississippi
the Delta wanders, a huge agricultural resource of flat, easily farmed land.
Someone visiting from another planet would assume that the
residents of the Delta feast every day on a wide variety of vegetables and