THE DEATH PENALTY: A STAIN ON OUR CONSCIENCE by Jan Michael Ostrowski

Execution of George Stinney, 1944, age 14 (Cinematic reenactment)

Reflecting on the first weeks of 2021, it seemed that the United States had become almost unrecognizable to me. On January 6th, five people died in what could best be described as a coup attempt to overturn an election and prevent the peaceful transference of power. This happened during the worst health crisis in over a century, with the US Covid death toll reaching almost 4,000 per day, and surpassing a total of 400,000 dead since the beginning of last year.

Amidst all this carnage, what had gone practically unnoticed was the rush by the Department of Justice since last July to execute more federal prisoners in one year than they had since 1896. In the latter half of 2020, ten federal prisoners had been put to death; this contrasts with the seven executions carried out by the states, a 37-year low. For the first time in US history, the federal government had executed more prisoners than in all of the 50 states combined. Three more condemned were executed in January before the new administration took office. This also broke with a 130-year precedent of pausing executions during a presidential transition.

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FATHER PAVEL FLORENSKY ON SAME-SEX LOVE: A RESPONSE TO PAUL LADOUCEUR AND RICHARD RENÉ by Giacomo Sanfilippo

Pavel Florensky and Sergei Troitsky, Moscow Theological Academy, 1906, age 24 and 25

Public Orthodoxy was the first to bring my doctoral work on Father Pavel Florensky’s theology of same-sex love to public attention with my Conjugal Friendship of May 2, 2017. I remain grateful to the editors not only for their decision to publish it, but also their patient guidance in helping me make it as perfect as I humanly could.

I’m also grateful to the editors for bringing the conversation back to the pages of Public Orthodoxy with the publication of Paul Ladouceur’s and Father Richard René’s Father Pavel Florensky, Philia, and Same-Sex Love of February 26, 2021, and to the authors for considering my work worthy of their consternation.

With that being said, Ladouceur’s and René’s response to my total immersion—through eight long years of MA and PhD research—in Father Florensky, his writings, his life, and his social/historical/cultural context raises questions at every turn.

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