Life in the Marketplace of Ideas
Home to the Longing God
Although his views were generally conservative, Bill did not follow an ideological map so much as he followed a keen moral compass. He worried about big-government solutions, strongly supported law enforcement, and supported the Bush surge. In the wake of the Enron and WorldCom scandals, he suggested that the attempt to "legislate corporate honesty" through new regulations might make matters worse and not better. More recently, he recommended that Obama pursue a Lincolnian and not Rooseveltian course, advancing policies that seek "to confer opportunities" to the American people and "not to solve problems" for them. Yet Harvard University Press will publish, later this year, Bill's observations on the extensive racial disparities that afflict American criminal justice processes—he suggested constitutional reform to bring an end to "overcriminalization," "overpunishment," and "discriminatory policing and prosecution" we see today—and he wrote frequently on the proper place and importance of faith, emotion, and mercy in the penal system.
Yet what made Bill so special to me, and to many like me, was the humble faith and profound wisdom he showed in the midst of suffering. I left his office that morning thoroughly humbled, knowing for certain that I had just spoken with a man far better than I could ever hope to be, and moved by the privilege of sharing in his struggle.
Our interview, "You Will Call, I Will Answer," was widely read and widely shared. It was cited at numerous legal and political blogs, including Powerline, Instapundit, Hot Air, the Volokh Conspiracy, and TaxProf Blog. (Dean Martha Minow even quoted the interview in her statement to the HLS community yesterday.) Ashby Jones, at The Wall Street Journal, comparing it to Randy Pausch's famous "Last Lecture," called it "a raw and unvarnished portrait of a man staring at death and pondering, in a very open way, his faith in the light of that fact." It "stops you cold," he said, and is "as compelling as anything we've come across in some time."
Dr. Timothy Dalrymple is the Associate Director of Content at Patheos, and writes weekly on faith, politics, and culture for Patheos' Evangelical Portal. Follow him at his blog, Philosophical Fragments, on Facebook or on Twitter.