Discussion Questions for Anthony Ray Hinton: The Sun Does Shine
1. Anthony Ray Hinton’s story of being wrongfully convicted and serving almost thirty years on Death Row is one of gargantuan unfairness. How have you felt the cost of life’s unfairness?
2. When Ray was arrested for crimes he didn’t commit, he remembers telling the police officers that he didn’t do it. They didn’t care. The only evidence they needed was that he was born black and poor. Does his experience surprise you? Why or why not?
3. “I don’t bother, nobody, I go to church, I treat human beings with love, respect, kindness… Why me?” Ray asked God after a judge sentenced him to death. What do you know about this kind of spiritual equation?
4. Kate acknowledges that sometimes the systems that are supposed to shelter us are instead the ones that do us harm. Are there systems you think are betraying us now? What kind of shelter are you seeking? What kind of harm are you experiencing? What, if any, action are you considering?
5. The first three years in prison, Ray didn’t speak a single word. He was having a “pity party” he says. It wasn’t until the he woke to the sound of a grown man crying that he woke to the sound of his own compassion. Has compassion even been a lifeboat for you when you were drowning in yourself? How might it buoy you now?
6. We can’t live so close to death without it eating us alive. The only way Ray was able to survive the numerous executions and suicides during his time in prison was to pray with unconditional love. When you don’t have the power to save, how do you exercise the power to love?
7. “If you want to be free, you have to forgive. And I wanted to be free,” Ray says. What does forgiveness mean to you? Is there anyone you want to set free so you can be free?
8. Ray had a mother who trained him in love and a best friend who loved him when others condemned. When the world says otherwise, whose truth do you rest in?
9. Finally, when given Bryan Stevenson from the Equal Justice Initiative as his lawyer, Ray had an advocate who could go up against the worst the state of Alabama had to offer. How does this kind of relentless, powerful, loving advocacy inspire you to act in your own community?
10. Ray is a witness that the sun does shine on all of us. No matter how we have been wronged or who we have yet to forgive. No matter what we have done or who we have yet to ask forgiveness. We are all worthy. What’s one small way can move with love and light today?
Bonus: After listening to this week’s podcast, what part of Kate & Ray’s conversation resonated with you most? What insight will you carry with you?
Discussion Questions written by author, editor, and facilitator Erin S. Lane.