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Monday, April 23, 2012

Chuck Colson: a changed man who exchanged hubris for humility

Reading the mainstream media obituaries of Chuck Colson, one would think the former Nixon aide's life ended in disgrace after he essentially sentenced himself to prison for crimes related to a break-in at the office of a psychiatrist who leaked government documents. Somehow revenge trumps redemption for reporters intent on smearing a conservative leader--or worse, in their minds, a converted leader.
Beyond politics, the world outside the Church sometimes seems incapable of appreciating faith, grace and a life changed by Christ--probably because the admission of this reality would challenge assumptions of a godless existence in which man is master.
Michael Gerson writes a fitting tribute, excerpted below, to a changed man who exchanged hubris for humility:
Charles W. Colson — who spent seven months in prison for Watergate-era offenses and became one of the most influential social reformers of the 20th century — was the most thoroughly converted person I’ve ever known.
Following Chuck’s recent death, the news media — with short attention spans but long memories — have focused on the Watergate portion of his career. They preserve the image of a public figure at the moment when the public glare was harshest — a picture taken when the flash bulbs popped in 1974.
...Chuck’s swift journey from the White House to a penitentiary ended a life of accomplishment — only to begin a life of significance. The two are not always the same. The destruction of Chuck’s career freed up his skills for a calling he would not have chosen, providing fulfillment beyond his ambitions. I often heard him quote Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and mean it: “Bless you, prison, for having been in my life.”
...It is a strange feeling to lose a mentor — a sensation of being old and small and exposed outside his shade. Chuck’s irrational confidence in my 21-year-old self felt a little like grace itself. The scale of his life — a broad arc from politics to prison to humanitarian achievement — is also the scale of his absence. But no one was better prepared for death. No one more confident in the resurrection — having experienced it once already. So my grief at Chuck’s passing comes tempered — because he was Lazarus, and he lives.
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