Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Where's Darius?

I'm worried about Darius, the lifer at Western Illinois Correctional Facility that I correspond with through my church's penpal program. It's been more than a month since I've heard from him.

Maybe he was moved to another facility. I've learned how often that happens.

Or maybe he got bored with writing to me. That would surprise, but not shock, me. At the beginning of our correspondence, he indicated that he hoped for in-person visits from me. I made it clear that I was committed to answering his every letter, but that was all.

Or maybe he's ill. I checked the stats, and 62 inmates have been confirmed to have the corona virus, and 49 have recovered. Does that mean the remaining 13 are dead? I don't know.

I understand, and agree, that Darius did something society can't forgive, and that prison is where he belongs. 

I also believe what the Book of Matthew tells us: "Whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters, you did for me."

So I hold Darius in my heart, and am grateful to him in a way. I'm not sure that, before I enrolled in this penpal program, I gave the incarcerated one moment's thought. I'm glad he taught me that my heart has room in it for them, too.


 WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

1. What are you currently reading? Mrs. McGinty's Dead by Agatha Christie. The McGinty murder trial was in all the papers, but Hercule Poirot was uninterested. A little old lady was bludgeoned and robbed of a small amount of money and her boarder was found guilty after overwhelming evidence was presented in court. Our favorite sleuth dismissed the public's fascination with the tawdry case as just another indication of how "senseless, cruel and brutal" England had become. 

Then his friend, Superintendant Spence, reached out to discuss the McGinty case. Spence was sure that the wrong man had been convicted -- the evidence was just too convincing -- and would soon be executed. Now Poirot is interested because he's offended. Hanging an innocent man would be wrong ... uncivilized, even. Poirot responds to Spence's plea for help and we're on our way.
So far I'm liking the book because I just enjoy being in Poirot's (egg-shaped) head so much!

 2. What did you recently finish reading? JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956 by Frederik Logevall. This is Volume 1 of what promises to be a comprehensive biography of President Kennedy. I can't wait for Volume 2!

Kennedy presents biographers with a challenge: the 35th President is at once familiar and elusive. We know he was capable of inspiring us with soaring rhetoric, but we don't know what inspired him. We also know that, on the one hand, he had the drive and discipline to become the youngest man ever elected to the Presidency, and yet lacked the self-control to keep his zipper shut.  

Logevall comes very near to solving the riddle. The evidence points to the famous Kennedy Clan, but not in the ways often assumed. Because his parents concentrated their expectations and aspirations on their eldest son -- the stronger, more handsome Joe, Jr. -- their second son was given space to develop his own personality. He was naturally funnier and more charming than Joe, and more original and rebellious than the older son could ever be allowed to be. Because Jack was spent so much of his childhood and adolescence alone in his sick bed, he became more bookish, curious and creative. He also developed a physical courage and self-sufficiency that not only surprised his family, it helped save the lives of his crew and made him a Naval hero in WWII.

The costar of this book is patriarch Joe Kennedy, Sr. He came to understand and appreciate his second son's strengths and supported him but didn't dominate him. Certainly old Joe damaged his children, too (his womanizing corrupted his sons' relationships not only to their mother but women in general, and there was, of course, Rosemary), but I had no doubt that he loved and valued them, too.

 3. What will read next? Mystery? Another biography? I'm not sure. But it won't be Meet Me in Monaco. I finally got this popular chick-lit from the library and found it simply didn't grab me. It wasn't any one thing, I just found myself not caring about the characters. Maybe it's me.