Yesterday, I predicted you would be tough on me for saying I still had hope for O.J. Simpson's personal and public redemption, in light of his upcoming television interview with Judith Regan. I was right. You were brutal!
Not all, of course. Many of you told me my column gave you peace - a peaceful reminder to never to give up on anyone. These readers captured my simple thesis: we should hope for the best for O.J. - including his admission of guilt, if he is guilty - not because he deserves our pity, but because he is a human being.
But the e-mail messages to which I want you to pay special attention are the slightly vile ones, the angry and vicious ones. I think they make a point: we are quick to judge, to bash, and to knock down. But that is a lot easier than to give people the benefit of the doubt, to speak well of others when we can, and to be builders of goodness everywhere.
If anyone has yet to read Judith Regan's statement, I suggest you read it now. Click here. While I am not privy to any inside information about the content of the book and interview (and they may well turn out to be disgraceful), Ms. Regan's statement lends credence to my hopeful desire that O.J. will indeed make a real confession of guilt in the murder of his ex-wife Nicole and her friend.
If he does this, even in his own and imperfect way, it will be a good thing, both for him and for the victims' families.
Here are a few of your e-mails messages. I have left off the last names and cities of the angry ones to protect your anonymity. I know you don't mean to be so mean.
God bless, Father Jonathan
You are a disgrace to the God you purport to serve. Judith Regan cares only about money. She has had the easy life of wealth and good fortune. Others, on the other hand, like Nicole Brown and her friend, weren't so lucky. O.J. Simpson is only making things worse for them and their families, and you are his (and Judith's) cohort. — Tim
RESPONSE: Tim. Thanks for taking the time to write. I don't know Judith Regan and I don't know her intentions. From her recent statement, however, it doesn't sound like her life has been as easy as we might have thought. Let's wait and see what the interview turns out to be.
When I wake up in the morning, I'm always hoping today is the day you will post your next column. I don't know what it is, but your simple and wise outlook on the news comforts me. Everything else I see and read gets me riled up. You make me see the reality of the world we live in, with rays of hope shining on the darkness. Thank you. - Christine in Missouri
You, Jonathan, are outrageous. You are also prideful and stupid. All you care about is defending FOX News, your job, and your thick wallet. That's why you are defending FOX's indefensible decision to air the blasphemous O.J. interview. O.J. Simpson is never going to confess his guilt. He is a liar and he can never change. Get a life! — Matt
RESPONSE: As regular readers of this blog know, I have no trouble speaking my mind. In fact, sometimes I would do better to hold back a bit and be more prudent. If the interview turns out to be a sensationalistic and hypocritical mockery of justice, you can be sure, Matt, I will make my opinion known. Two last points. You say O.J. can never change. My belief is there is always hope for the heart. And about the thick wallet…my vow of poverty puts a damper on any such hopes.
For O.J. to be honest it will take more than a confession. It will also take facing up to the responsibilities imposed on him in the civil trial that found him liable. So far, this book and interview appear to be nothing more than an attempt to make money that will be hidden from the court's judgment. — Dan
RESPONSE: Dan, if I understand Regan's public statement, all money from the book deal will go to O.J.'s children. Money is no substitute for the love and respect he owes them, but it is a consolation to know he won't be receiving a dime.
With all due respect Father, I think you've finally lost your mind. What about respect for the victims of this horrible crime? Why hasn't this monster tried to live a quiet humble existence including some kind of service work? No, he has been out in the bars, and on the golf course, also trying to peddle his wares on the Internet. I really feel you should have taken a closer look at what this man has been up to before you begin to use the word redemption. — Patricia
RESPONSE: Patricia, I'm wondering if you read my piece, or just saw the headline. I'm sorry if it was misleading. I made it clear in the body of the article that the trial, and O.J. himself, made mockery of our good justice system. But about redemption, we'll have to agree to disagree. Until we breathe our last, there is hope for the heart.
Dear Father Jonathan:
I don't usually write unsolicited e-mails, but I wanted you to know that I don't disagree with what you said in your article about O.J. I am aware that you will receive some criticism about that article, so I thought it was especially important that you receive a positive note from me.
I think I feel about O.J. the way I do about my former spouse: I hope he doesn't get involved with anyone else who he can hurt. I hope he doesn't hurt his child. I hope that those he's hurt can move on and find peace.
It might be easier for me to pray for those things because it doesn't require as much selflessness. But after what I've seen in my own life, I find that I want - no, need - to think my prayers are answered from time to time. I think what I'd pray for is more realistic than a change in his heart. You're a much better person than I to have the faith you have, and it's refreshing. I really appreciate that.
Thank you for your article. Peace, Kris
RESPONSE: Kris, thanks so much for sharing so personally with all of us. I changed your name to keep your note confidential. Don't worry about me. Criticism is a good thing. It keeps us humble, and I take it in stride.
Dear Father Jonathan,
I'm sorry Father but I must disagree with your argument that there is hope for O.J.'s public redemption. There is hope for his personal redemption as that comes from God's grace. But, he has shown himself to be that "Machiavellian liar" many times in the past and I suspect most people will see this latest stunt as nothing more than publicity seeking for monetary gain. After all, what else does he have except notoriety? You're right though about his children and the legacy they will have to carry. It is all theater but more tragic than hopeful.
Butch in Summerville, SC
RESPONSE: Great point, Butch. Personal and public redemption - both of which I mention - are separate issues. If the admission is sincere and complete, he will begin a very long path of public redemption. If it is not, well, we'll just have to pray for him.
Dear Father Jonathan,
Yes, you are naive, but in a good and wholesome way. I applaud you for it. More it is a pity that so many people will look at this strictly from a vindictive point of view.
Dare we hope that all men be saved? Sure, and I hope O.J. will take the opportunity to start down his road to redemption in this life. Heaven help him if he waits till the next.
Take care, and keep up the good work. Mark W. in Dallas, TX
RESPONSE: Hmm… naïve in a good way? That's a new one. But I think I know what you mean; not callused. That's a virtue we have to cultivate. It doesn't come easy for me, I can tell you that.
Why don't you tell people that they are accountable for their actions, rather than "my heart goes out to O.J."? Your pity is misdirected. Did you enter the clergy because you were stupid and did not have any ability to do anything useful in your life? Go get a real job. McDonald's is hiring. You could flip burgers. You are pathetic and boring. And worse, you are giving people and children the wrong message with your "heart" going out to murderers. — Mark
RESPONSE: Dear Mark, as a kid I always wanted to work at McDonald's. My parents never let me. Now is my chance!!! On a serious note, you are right to ask that I hold people accountable for their actions. Maybe I wasn't sufficiently clear. I'll try to do better next time. By the way, I had to delete one of your more colorful (inappropriate) phrases before posting it - just trying to hold you accountable, as you asked.
Don't ever give up. Your take on things is so refreshing! I am not religious, never have been, and yet I can't get enough of what you write and what you say on television. A great fan…almost becoming religious! — Ann
RESPONSE: Uh, oh! Be careful. Thanks for your kind note. Notes like yours keep me going.