Each week in On the Other Hand, Ben Bartlett defies the common wisdom and identifies the other side of the story of cultural hot-topic issues.
Maybe you read the fascinating piece in The New Yorker about Bernie Madoff calling Steve Fishman from prison in a desperate attempt to get some message – any message – through to his family. And perhaps you also saw or heard some reactions from people outraged that Madoff would be given some opportunity – any opportunity – to plead his case or blame anybody other than himself in anyway.
I do understand that. His crimes are terrible and destructive, and I certainly am not in favor of leniancy in his sentence.
On the other hand, though, a Christian should probably ask, “What does mercy look like in this situation?”
Madoff’s formerly close-knit family has been completely destroyed. One of his sons committed suicide, and Madoff has no contact with his wife or the other son. Languishing in prison, with none of his former relationships or contacts available to him… what do we expect of him? When can we allow him to try to find some method of reaching out? Are we really still so angry that we cannot allow him to try, in whatever way he can, to help his family get back to some sense of hopefulness in life?
I’d love to get feedback on this one. But I will say this: Sure we’re angry, and I understand why the victims are still especially angry. But if we hope to see sin for what it is and to explore what the consequences of sin really are, maybe it’s time to let a broken old man tell his story.