Friday, September 13, 2013

Redemption in NPR Reports

"Redemption" used to mean, for me, "going to heaven after you die."  Jesus' words give us some of that, but more often he's talking about redemption that we can make happen here on earth, the kind that NPR has given me in two arresting stories this month.
Shon Hopwood
Photo:  Sang Cho / Courtesy of The Daily of the University of Washington

First, reporter Melissa Block facilitated a conversation between law student - memoirist Shon Hopwood and the judge who sentenced him to prison for 11 years, Richard Kopf.  At the time of his sentencing, Hopwood promised to make a better life for himself, and the Judge skeptically said that he'd wait and see.    In prison, Shon discovered his aptitude for legal research and argument, leading to outstanding success helping his fellow inmates.  Now he has been appointed to the second-highest law court in the USA.  Judge Kopf says bluntly that his "gut feeling" about Hopwood's poor potential "sucked."   Hopwood graciously demurs. 

Then, this morning, I heard the follow-up to a report on doctors treating brain cancer in children.  That's hard enough to listen to, but this morning's report by Joe Palca focused on how pediatric oncologist Jim Olson can stay upbeat when he must say, so often, "This tumor will take your child's life."   Olson related how he had to stop on the way home from losing his first patient.  Instead of feeling crushed, he found himself elated, walking with a light step.  Why?  The parents of the child hadn't fled the hospital as he'd expected, but had sought him out, hugged him, and told him that his words had helped to "make our child's death as beautiful as his birth."

These are two stories of many that we hear on NPR in which thoughtful, intelligent people find ways to redeem horrible situations.

Joe Palca's report on pediatric oncologist Jim Olson

Melissa Block  Shon Hopwood, Judge Richard Kopf  (story audio: )

Photo:  Sang Cho / Courtesy of The Daily of the University of Washington

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