As I’ve said before on this blog, it’s easy for a newspaper to write a holiday story. It’s hard to write a holiday story no one else can write.
A quick run through the homepages of the top 25 papers shows as much this morning. More than anything else, you have your talk-with-local-ministers stories, your wires from the Vatican, your scared-of-the-Easter-Bunny galleries, your wires from the Holy Land, your egg-prep stories, your egg-hunt-finds-corpse stories, and your local event lists. The automated groupings in Google News results show the same.
But three unique Easter pieces stood out in today’s mix.
1. The Chicago Tribune, which does holidays better than most, writes about Edgebrook Lutheran Church and a man named Jim Deichman. He struggled for years with mental illness, but the church welcomed him.
And Deichman — a square-jawed, white-haired 62-year-old who came to church every Sunday in a rumpled dark suit — did his best to reach back. He volunteered to work as an usher, helped with the rummage sale and read Scripture during services.
But on Jan. 31, a firefighter found Deichman standing in an alcove, as smoke filled the sanctuary. His hair and clothing were disheveled; his face was contorted in fury. Suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and raging against enemies that only he could see, he had allegedly set a blaze that would leave the church in ruins.
2. A columnist at New Hampshire’s Keene Sentinel, circulation of about 14,000, tells the story of a town policeman’s early Easter morning in 1955. The officer catches a speeder, and that’s all that happens. The resonance is indirect but, in an Easter fashion, oddly understandable.
3. West Virginia’s Sunday Gazette-Mail modestly turns over today’s lead editorial to quotes about Easter and spring. As you read, you see how the compilation can connect with not just Christians of all stripes but all readers. Among others, lines from Matthew 28, Song of Solomon, Virgil, Tennyson, Milton, Rilke, Browning, E.B. White, T.S. Eliot, Millay, Dorothy Parker, Emerson, and Twain make the list. Hard to choose a favorite.