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Memory Lane


Clifton Adcock January 12th, 2011

A former district attorney’s new memoir focuses on his experience navigating his belief system and the legal system.

Former Oklahoma County District Attorney Wes Lane said he set out wanting to write a biography, rather than an autobiography.

The subject: God. “This is not meant to be a book about the fascinating subject of me,” Lane writes in the preface of his new book “Amazingly Graced.”

Lane was a prosecutor in the Oklahoma County district attorney’s office before being appointed by Gov. Frank Keating as district attorney in 2001. He was elected to the post in 2002, but lost his re-election bid in 2006.

“I’ve been happy ever since,” said Lane, who serves as president of the Burbridge Foundation, a Christian organization started by his grandfather that seeks to positively influence culture, family and Christian leadership training and development. “I am happy as a clam. It’s a joyful thing. It’s been a great four years now.”

Lane said his book was not targeted at Christians only, and that he hoped people of varying degrees of faith, different denominations and those who don’t believe in God would take something away from the book.

“It’s not just a book for ‘people in the club,’” Lane said. “I started to title it ‘A Skeptic’s Journey Through Faith’ because I sort of had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the relationship.”

In “Amazingly Graced,” Lane writes about his childhood, his time in college, his time as a prosecutor, his rise to district attorney, some of his high-profile cases, controversy that enveloped him and his wife during his time in office and his bid for re-election.

However, for the most part, Lane’s autobiographical information in the book serves as context for the evolution of his faith.

“I learned a long time ago that people need to be encouraged that there is a reality in God, that there is a purpose to life, that life has meaning,” Lane said. “They don’t think God is real, they don’t think he’s active or engaged or caring. They see him as a distant thunderbolt thrower. I came from that place.”

The 1996 case over the disappearance of 12-year-old Crystal Dittmeyer served as an enormous confirmation of Lane’s faith, he writes, when the largely circumstantial murder case against Dittmeyer’s stepfather appeared to be in doubt, Lane’s specific prayers about the case began to be answered.

Conversely, the same case served as one of his biggest tests of faith, Lane said, after Dittmeyer’s stepfather was turned loose after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Her body was never found.

“That was a grand test,” Lane said. “Life is not without tests. I believe that not only is there a God, but there’s also a Satan. We’re presented with these opportunities to trust God in the midst of devastating things that take place. That was the lowest blow I could have received in my faith journey at that time. I learned a lesson from that. I learned that the battle is not necessarily over when you think it’s over.”

It was a lesson that Lane would learn again, when his wife, Lori Hansen, began to have back problems and became addicted to painkillers. The prominent plastic surgeon’s addiction became public when the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs began to investigate.

“It was a hard period,” Lane said. “It wasn’t easy. That’s still a tough experience for her to even think about.”
Lane said he asked his wife’s permission before including the ordeal in his book, and that he wanted to include it to give others who may be in similar situations hope for recovery.

“There’s hope,” Lane said. “There’s a message of hope. People out there struggling and that will struggle — there is hope. By our sharing this experience, that would be the goal. That people, whatever their circumstance, would be uplifted and know that they are not alone.”

Lane said when he lost re-election to current District Attorney David Prater, it wasn’t easy, but he considered it God’s will.

“I wish him well,” Lane said. “I was right that night to look at God and say, in the midst of the pain and hurt and disappointment, ‘I know you well enough by now. I know who you are. I’m going to choose to thank you in advance and praise you knowing you.’ And that’s borne out to be a good answer.”

Lane will sign copies of his book from 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday at Mardel Christian & Education Supply, I-240 and S. Penn, and from 1-2:30 p.m. at the Mardel on W. Main in Norman.

 
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