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The Unforgiven

The man who shot Jimmy Hoffa, or so he himself says, was Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran, who told author Charles Brandt where, how, and when he put Hoffa down in a book based on his deathbed confessions. He told Brandt that his chief qualification for killing Hoffa was that Hoffa trusted him. Which kind of tells you what kind of guy he was. But the most intriguing part of the story is how, after he had committed more than a score of murders for the mob, Sheeran figured he could still square things with God. Brandt writes:

During his final illness ... he told me he had made his confession and received communion from a visiting priest ... the following day, a week or so before he lost strength and stamina, Frank Sheeran asked me to pray with him, to say the Lord's Prayer and and Hail Mary with him, which we did together.

Some of the reviewers at Amazon were struck at how Sheeran would try to con God and get a "shot" at heaven. Now, before anyone on the Left starts to laugh at religious manias, let's hear it from Hugo Chavez, that paragon of Marxism. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Concern about Venezuela President Hugo Chávez's health grew Friday amid reports the cancer-stricken leader will seek emergency medical care in Brazil, a day after the president broke down during a religious service and begged Jesus Christ to grant him life.

Mr. Chávez, who faces a potentially close presidential contest in October, made his plea during a televised Catholic Mass in his home state of Barinas Thursday. "Give me life, even if a life in flames, or in pain, it doesn't matter," Mr. Chávez said as grim-faced family members looked on and clapped.

Or as it goes in Spanish, "Dame vida, aunque sea vida llameante, aunque sea vida dolorosa, no me importa." Chavez was almost echoing Fyodor Dostoevsky, whose character Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment said almost exactly the same thing: "let me live; any which way, but let me live."

"Where is it?" thought Raskolnikov. "Where is it I've read that someone condemned to death says or thinks, an hour before his death, that if he had to live on some high rock, on such a narrow ledge that he'd only room to stand, and the ocean, everlasting darkness, everlasting solitude, everlasting tempest around him, if he had to remain standing on a square yard of space all his life, a thousand years, eternity, it were better to live so than to die at once! Only to live, to live and live! Life, whatever it may be!...How true it is! Good God, how true! Man is a vile creature!...And vile is he who calls him vile for that," he added a moment later.

The problem with forgiveness is that it runs counter to human notions of revenge and justice. A search through the Internet will bring up such such nettlesome conundrums as Can God forgive the Nazis? Inevitably someone online argues that the problem of forgiving the Jew-killers is analogous to the false problem of forgiving the Christ-killers.