Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lampstand Profiled

In yesterday's Catholic Culture, Dr. Jeff Mirus wrote about our work.

An excerpt.

"The only daily paper we get in our household is the local paper which covers our town and county in Northern Virginia, or about 375,000 souls. Despite this modest population, nearly every day there is a new local disaster on the front page, very often a crime—burglary, armed robbery, assault, child pornography, even murder. Some of the reports are perversely humorous, as in the recent robbery of a convenience store in which the perpetrator used a six-foot broken branch as a weapon; or the effort to steal a van while the owner was busy in the back. But we’ve had a string of over twenty burglaries in nearby neighborhoods in recent weeks, there have been some unprovoked gang attacks, and today we learned about the first murder of the new year.

"Crimes of passion—and the violent use of an available knife or hand gun in a sudden quarrel—are to some degree understandable, as is the increased incidence of random violence in a crumbling society which is increasingly incapable of nurturing well-adjusted and fundamentally happy people. But consistent criminal activity is a trickier subject; one wonders about the causes that lead someone down that path. A great deal of ink has been spilled over the past fifty years on the sociology of crime, and in particular the degree to which the criminal is himself a victim who cannot be held completely responsible for his actions. Among various attempts to identify root problems, we have seen indictments of society as a whole, of capitalism in particular, and even of the criminal justice system itself.

"One man who works directly in this area of assessing criminal responsibility believes that such analyses are fundamentally unproductive. David H. Lukenbill, himself a former 20-year criminal and founder of The Lampstand Foundation, puts the matter succinctly: “In the work of criminal reformation, it is vital to keep in mind that the criminal is the problem.” Lukenbill now devotes his life to criminal reformation, and to recruiting other former criminals who have gone on to convert or come back to their Catholic faith (as Lukenbill did) to work directly to touch and transform others."