Saturday, April 21, 2012

Charles Colson

Nixon aide, prison minister, and Christian leader Charles Colson has passed on.  In this post, I’d like to link to things that I’ve written about Charles Colson, as well as other articles about him that I have enjoyed.

From my blog:

Nixon’s Civil Rights 12: Charles Colson
10 Significant Mike Wallace Moments
Uncomfortable Psalms

Other articles:

1.  One Lord, One Faith, One Voice: A Forum on the Limits of Politics and a Search for Common Ground

This was an article in the October 7, 1996 Christianity Today in which Colson, Ralph Reed, and Tony Campolo had a discussion about faith in public life.  I especially liked what Reed had to say about Colson:
“The first book other than the Bible that I read after I became a Christian was Born Again, by Chuck Colson. I think God wanted me to read that book, because it was the story of someone who wanted to change the world and tried to do it through politics and came to a point where he saw that politics wasn’t the answer. That book changed my life, because up until I got saved I thought the same thing. If we could just elect the Gipper, if we could just cut the marginal tax rate, if we could just get rid of the Soviet empire, it would be a great world.  I want to instill in the hearts and minds of activists that you should not make your political involvement the sole repository of your hopes and aspirations as a Christian for the reformation of society.”

2.  David Plotz, Charles Colson: How a Watergate Crook Became America’s Greatest Christian Conservative

This article appeared in the March 10, 2000 edition of Slate.  I like the first quote because it illustrates what I loved about Colson, and the second one highlights concerns that I had about him:

“On prison issues, he is a darling of the left. He insists that nonviolent criminals should not be jailed, that more convicts should be paroled, and that drug offenders should be treated rather than incarcerated. He works desperately to convince conservative lawmakers to reconsider their lock-’em-up views. Colson lobbies for better prison conditions. He champions ‘restorative justice,’ a promising notion now being tested all over the country. Restorative justice holds that crime is committed not against the state but against a victim and against God. In restorative justice, nonviolent criminals stay out of jail, remain in the community where they committed their crime, and work to support their families and pay restitution to the victim. Ideally, the criminal seeks reconciliation with the victim, too.”

“There are hints that Colson is changing as his popularity increases. During the first two decades after he left prison, he invariably criticized Christian political activism for its self-righteousness. But that criticism is subsiding. In his radio shows and columns, which reach millions of Christians, Colson sounds increasingly like other religious-right preachers. He doesn’t yet have the bile of a Robertson, but he seems angrier and angrier, and he is more and more willing to wade into politics. He harshly criticizes evolution. He has lobbied to permit the display of the Ten Commandments in government buildings. He has been increasingly vocal about his loathing for gay rights. (The villains of Colson’s apocalyptic novel are AIDS activists.) He pushed hard for the impeachment of President Clinton.”

3.  Jessica Gresko, Watergate Figure Charles Colson Has Died at 80

This entire article is worth reading, for it talks about Daniel Ellsberg and Colson’s view on Mark Felt after Felt was identified as Deep Throat.  But I’ll highlight here my favorite part of the article, which is a quotation of Mark Earley, a former Virginia Attorney General who worked with Colson’s Prison Fellowship:

“Yet, it wasn’t until he lost that power, what most people would call real ‘power,’ that Chuck began to make a real difference and exercise the only kind of influence that really matters…Prison Fellowship is possible only because its founder, Chuck Colson, was forced to personally identify with those people who hold a special place in God’s heart: prisoners and their families.”

R.I.P. Charles Colson.  To honor his memory, I’ll watch the movie Born Again, a 1978 movie about Colson’s conversion.  Dean Jones plays Colson, and, as a Disney fan, I love Dean Jones.

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