Recently, in my humble attempt to stay abreast on world, national, and local news, I started to download NBC's Nightly News podcast. I must say it is nice to watch the news without commercials as well as being able to fast-forward through less interesting details, even if it isn't live. While I probably won't get around to watching it every night, I will likely catch up with the news much more often than previous to this time in my life.
While watching it prior to this posting, I saw an especially interesting report on faith in America. In fact, NBC is currently doing a series on it (which I happen to think is worth checking out). Tonight's edition focused on Christianity and prisons. The news story particularly highlighted a state prison in Louisiana, where a Bible college from New Orleans had been making intentional evangelistic efforts for an unnamed amount of time. The warden of the prison was interviewed. He made remarks of how the prison had drastically changed from what it was like before the believers stepped in and what it has now become. He pointed it all back to the efforts of this Bible college. While he never explicitly stated "it was now much better," or something to that effect, the tone of the story and the mood clearly depicted a positive change. The report also noted that movements were springing up in two other state prisons as well.
Now while these episodes are isolated to local communities, the sheer size and depth ought to at least make Americans wonder. I personally have heard numerous statistical reports that note there are a larger number of inmates who are believers in some sort of faith than there are atheists. Many times, the implied conclusion of these analyses has been that there is no correlation between faith and staying out of prison. This report even noted that skeptics view such occurrences as these as "foxhole conversions." Yet I wonder if they ever think that when everything is taken away, and all one has left is the brick wall of particulars that one has just slammed into, that life is built on more than just these particulars, such as wealth, possessions, and even relationships? I wonder if they consider the reason for such statistics may be that when all of the false and empty hope this world seeks to provide is removed and there is nothing merely external to turn to, that these men finally see that true hope lies beyond and outside of this natural world and what it can provide? Those are just some of the thoughts on my mind as I heard this report and continue to consider it.
Faith in Prisons, According to NBC
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