The evil that men do lives after them The good is oft interred with their bones
—Julius Caesar, act 3, scene 2
THESE SHAKESPEAREAN LINES are applicable to Charles W. Colson, whose recent obituaries filled much space but shed too little light on one of the most transformed lives of the 20th century.
The problem was that secular journalists found it difficult to reconcile the hatchet man of Watergate with the humble—indeed, holy—man of prison ministry. The connection between these two Colsons was for most of the obituarists a bridge too far, which could be crossed only with skepticism. Yet to his Christian friends and associates, Chuck Colson’s spiritual journey was an authentic modern parable of God’s grace.
If you think some praise is due him,
Now's the time to slip it to him,
For he cannot read his tombstone when he's dead.
THESE LINES of Victorian doggerel tumbled out of the attic of my memory when I recently attended a banquet at the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, D.C. to honor the founders of the Trinity Forum (TTF). This organization, often succinctly described as a Christ-centered Aspen Institute, has been dedicated for the past two decades to exploring the ideas that connect faith, character, and leadership.
A discussion group that arose from the ashes of the failed Carter administration in 1981 is surprisingly relevant to contemporary presidential politics as Obama stumbles toward the defeat many are predicting for him. For what TTF tries to do is reinvigorate leadership ideals with intelligent readings and arguments set in the context of faith.