1. I remember a while back when Brit Hume said that Buddhism doesn't have redemption. There is a Buddhist text on redemption but it certainly doesn't buy into the hooey that Hume was thinking about, like you get to go to heaven if you're done a little good and repent or whatever. When it all went down I saw a celebrity Buddhist say he thought Buddhism had redemption.
I would say that Buddhism is more focused on preventing negative actions that would need redemption. Angulimala has some making up for murder to be done. Humans can really turn it around and that is an amazing thing.
Redemption is a good idea. It bubbles up from true remorse and the desire to try and right wrongs. Why not try to focus on trying to make up for mistakes.
Plus it helps you realize that there are a lot of things that can't be undone. Not to put more pressure on people, but as an extra incentive to be careful and thoughtful.
2. The neutral stage of metta is the hardest and most useful. If we don't love or hate someone, it's easy to drift away. This stage challenges us most to push for metta to someone who isn't in our grid of like or hate.
Metta isn't about thinking, it's about spreading a feeling further if possible. Provoking a positive mental state into new areas. Thought and feelings go together, so you can't separate them.