My Kinship With Cain: What I Have Learned From My Prison Visits

The Imaginative Conservative | 3/9/2019 | Dwight Longenecker
Cayley1561 (Posted by) Level 3
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Go to Jail. Go directly to Jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.00.

That ominous Monopoly card and the man peering from behind the bars in the corner of the board echoes in my mind every month when I drive through the South Carolina countryside to celebrate Mass for the inmates at one of our high-security prisons.

Age - Towering - Walls - Windows - Prisons

In this modern age, the towering walls and barred windows of old-fashioned prisons have been exchanged for tall chain link fences and razor wire. Lots of razor wire. Skeins of razor wire. There are security checks, steel doors, bulletproof glass and inside, men who have committed serious crimes.

Have they abducted, raped, tortured, and killed? Probably. Have they slit a throat, battered a head with a baseball bat, shot, stabbed, and strangled? Have they raped children then chucked them in a ditch to die? I don’t know. I go to minister to them as men and brothers.

Clanging - Doors - Yard - Prisoners - Bulky

We clear the clanging doors and cut across the inner yard. Prisoners in their bulky orange uniforms nod a greeting or wave. We meet in a storage room at the back of the gym, and to get there cross the gym where the young black guys are playing basketball like pros. Some older fellows are playing Monopoly. I tell them the orange properties are the best. They laugh with that instinctive polite reproof that blacks often show to white men. I don’t blame them.

The room where we say Mass is crowded with junk. The ceiling has collapsed because the roof is leaking. The chairs are beat up, but there’s a wooden altar and the guys have prepared it with the linens, the chalice and paten, book, and crucifix.

Niceness - Guys - Congregation

I am always struck by the down-to-earth niceness of the guys in my small congregation. They seem much like any other...
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