Scott Eizember – Wednesday, December 7, 2022 at 9:00 AM
Meeting Place: Zoom Webinar
Web Address: https://oklahomadoc.zoom.us/j/1605256917
Webinar ID: 160 525 6917
*This letter was included in the official packet for Scott Eizember’s Clemency Hearing.
November 14, 2022
To: The Pardon and Parole Board of the State of Oklahoma
Mrs. Cathy Stocker
Dr. Edward Konieczny
Mr. Larry Morris
Mr. Scott Williams
Mr. Richard Smothermon
You ever willed yourself to believe in something? I used to try. I used to believe that faith is the assurance of things hoped for. Now, I am more of a realist…especially with regards to this clemency process. Repeatedly, you have voted to deny clemency to some of the sickest individuals in the State of Oklahoma. Persons who regularly have no concept of where they are…much less why they are being executed. Benjamin Cole thought that he was going to rise from the dead three days after he was executed. I know. He told me. You see, I served as one of his spiritual advisors too. In going through his property that he left me, I saw collections of letters and numbers that were some of the wildest manifestations of writing that I’d ever seen. There is too much danger in believing that this letter is going to mean anything to you. I can’t live like that anymore. One is better off fighting for justice in the streets than participating in this process. Yet, here I am. Trying to save the life of another person that I advise, Scott Eizember. Why? I’m not sure. I guess I can’t help but wonder if there is any modicum of humanity left in Oklahoma…a small piece of the image of God that might finally decide that life is too precious thing to waste. I don’t know. I guess I only know to return to hope. Peril finds me once more. Will Scott Eizember be anything more than a pound of flesh to be processed on the way to the slaughter? You’re the only one who can answer that. As far as my participation, all I can do is write. So out of the weariness of my despair in this process, I begin.
As you read the words that follow, I encourage you to listen to them through the prism of the words that Pastor (and your current Chairman) Scott Williams delivered at Grace Family Church in Florida less than three months ago, instructing people on what to do in the midst of great difficulty, “Seek God’s voice.”
Make no mistake, the death penalty is a symptom of a much larger disease. You see, these are dangerous times. Our ability to interact with each other is limitless. Yet, our understanding of our common humanity seems to decline with each second. It seems as if the more that we connect the less that we think that each other matter. Far from being who we are, humanity is simply seen as a byproduct of what we do…breathe. We are terrified of meditation because we don’t know what we will find deep within. We even more terrified of honest interaction with others because they too might discover who we really are. We are cowards desperate to harness belief both within and without that our disguises are believable. This is the contemporary iteration of humanity from which we encounter the other…each other. The devil that prowls around us is not some anthropomorphic manifestation of evil…it is the tendency to believe that the only thing that matters are our masks…our assumption that we can destroy to make ourselves more whole. If we are to see where God is…to know where love is…we have to be willing to be seen and to see…to step into places of deep discomfort and offer our true selves. To do anything other than place our bodies into life…into the pursuit of being human…is to fail at the one thing that matters most…love…love of self and love of neighbor. Such love begins with loving the unlovable…again both within and without.
Then each of them went home, while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”
– John 7:53–8:11 (NRSV)
The clemency board is standing over someone who is guilty. Make no mistake, Scott Eizember is responsible for the deaths of the Cantrells and all the terror that came after. Like it or not, the courts have determined that Eizember is to be executed. You stand ready to make sure that the sentence is carried out. I mean that’s what the law commands right? Isn’t this an especially egregious case? Yet love…our common humanity…demands more.
Jesus bent down and started writing in the dirt. I’ve often wondered what was written there. Frequently, I’ve come to the conclusion that Jesus was writing the sins of the Pharisees. What would it be like if this clemency process was about you rather than Scott Eizember? How would you want to be judged? If you are like the Pharisees, you bristle at such a notion. You would immediately declare, “I haven’t committed such horrific crimes!” Well, if the wages of sin are death, then we have all committed such crimes. One might argue at this point that this is not a religious body. To that I would respond, you’re right…this is a human body that demands humanity. Jesus showed us what was best about humanity…grace.
“Let you who are without sin…” It is my prayer that as you ponder such a phrasing, you will walk away from this execution. I am under no illusion that a vote for clemency will stop the execution of Scott Eizember. It seems as if the Governor is determined to execute as many people as possible. So, I guess it’s fair to say that this is as much about you as it is about Eizember. Who do you want to be? Do you want to be the executioner or the purveyor of grace?
“Go and sin no more.” There is great liberation in such a phrase…both within and without…for us all. The turning. The leaving. The walking away to newness of life. You see, Eizember is no different than any of the rest of us…hopeless without grace. Out here, we are drowning in cynicism about a clemency process that is so devoid of humanity. So, I humbly ask you to prove such despair to be misplaced. Whether you believe Scott Eizember deserves it or not, show us that grace matters again. Please…do not deny that which has been so freely given to you.
The Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood
Spiritual Advisor, Scott Eizember