May 2023: New Resources
Intercom Magazine New Resources
A Story of Justice and Redemption
by Bryan Stevenson
Published by Scribe UK, 2020
pp. 354 • stg£9.00
Bryan Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama and is Professor of Law at New York University Law School. Since founding EJI in 1994, Stevenson has saved 125 men from the death penalty. Recently he was a guest speaker in London to attend a conference on Justice and Migrants. His 2014 book Just Mercy portrays the reality of injustice that some Black people experience in the USA.
The story that forms the backbone of Stevenson’s Just Mercy is that of Walter McMillan from Monroeville, Alabama. The irony of the story is that Monroeville proudly identifies itself as the setting for Harper Lee’s 1960 novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, an account of a 1930s white lawyer who bravely and sucessfully defended a falsely accused black man.
Just Mercy tells the story about a beautiful young daughter of a respected local white family who is murdered in 1986. After several months no one had been charged, the county sheriff embarks on an elaborate plan to frame Walter McMillan, gaining damaging testimony from people who had never met Walter. Due to the seriousness of the charge, Walter is put on death row even before his trial, one of the many illegal actions brought to bear against him in subsequent proceedings. Fifteen months after his arrest, an all-white jury, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, pronounced Walter guilty, and after they had recommended life imprisonment, the judge escalated it to a death sentence.
In 1993, through the tireless work of Bryan Stevenson, Walter is cleared of the trumped up charge of murder and released from jail, to a wife who could no longer bear to live with him and a community that felt every scar of what he endured all those years on death row.
Towards the end of Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson recalls how on the steps of a courthouse he met an older black lady wearing a ‘church meeting hat’. She said, ‘My 16 year-old grandson was murdered 15 years ago, and l loved that boy more than life itself.’ Then she said to Bryan, ‘I heard you in that courtroom today. I’ve seen you here a couple of times before. I know you’re a stone catcher’ (pp.307-9).
That is what gospel neighbours do: Catch stones – and be a voice for those who are silenced by injustice. The first example of catching stones is what Jesus did on the cross. The second is breaking the silence imposed on people by a cruel system of injustice. Bryan Stevenson’s book demonstrates for us what it means to be a gospel neighbour.
Reviewer: John Cullen
THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS
by Fr Bryan Shortall OFM Cap
Veritas Publications, 2023
pp. 80 • €9.99/stg£8.99
According to an ancient tradition in Jerusalem the Stations of the Cross originated shortly after the event when the Blessed Virgin Mary herself marked the way of her Son’s Passion and death with moments of prayer and reflection. For Christians throughout the centuries, most of whom would have been unable to visit the Holy Land in person this prayerful reflection on our Lord’s final journey makes the event accessible anywhere or in anyone’s imagination. This most recent publication by Fr Bryan Shortall OFM Cap adds to the traditional treasury of the Stations of the Cross and is finely illustrated with his own colourful, poignant, drawings. Originally written during the Covid 19 pandemic as an aid for the ‘rosary family’ on social media the resource has continued relevance as the author points out while Europe and Ukraine are engulfed in warfare and violence. The innocent are walking the Way of the Cross daily and this weapon of prayer remains a vital tool in the spiritual armoury against the power of evil.
Reveiwer: Paul Clayton-Lea
LIVING WITH IGNATIUS
On the Compass of Joy
by Nikolaas Sintobin SJ
Messenger Publications, 2023
pp. 96 • €9.95/stg£8.95
The perils of the internet and social media have been well flagged in recent years so it is encouraging to note that there figures like the author of Living with Ignatius who are providing a level of pastoral care to their users. Nikolas Sintobin SJ is a former lawyer who has specialised in Ignatian spirituality and pedagogy and for the past ten years he has been working as an internet chaplain. In this pocket-sized introduction he reflects on the life of 16th century Ignatius of Loyola whose experience like our own generation was to live in a time of great social and religious upheaval where traditional norms seemed to just disappear. Ignatius’ utilization of tools born of his life’s experience to find ways to deal with his sense of powerlessness and failure formed the basis of an Ignatian spirituality which continues to influence many lives today. Fr Sintobin’s introduction to Ignatius’ life and spiritual teachings is an invitation to a more intensely and consciously lived life.
Reveiwer: Paul Clayton-Lea