A thought-provoking read from a journalism prof at UGA:
Once upon a time as a much younger reporter, I covered a story about members of a small south Louisiana church who for weeks kept a dead baby in an ice chest rather than report the death to authorities.
Every night church members prayed over the ice chest in the hope their faith would be strong enough to bring the baby back. And every night they finished by gently returning the ice chest to a large freezer until the next prayer session.
This went on for a few weeks – very nearly the biblical 40 days – until word leaked out and the cops came knocking at the church house door.
Why tell you this gruesome little tale?
It’s a story that has stuck with me for years and years. I tell it to my UGA journalism students as an example of how religious beliefs and governmental rules can intersect in interesting ways, especially in the South. I walk them through the challenges in reporting and writing a story like this. I’ve even tried using it as the basis of a fictional short story to explore the motives of the parents and pastor who didn’t really want to talk to some snotty young reporter without a decent Cajun accent.
Regardless, I always return to the major question I failed to ask in my original reporting of the story and one I’ve failed to answer in my poor attempts at fiction.
What if it had worked?
Read the rest. Especially if you’ve forgotten about the classic short story “The Monkey’s Paw.”