Happy New Year, Reader Friends! Enjoy D.I. Telbat’s new short story, “Prison Chaplain: One Last Job,” which is representative of real scenarios playing out in America’s prisons.
The Prison Chaplain: One Last Job
by D.I. Telbat
Prison Chaplain Art Rosse sat in front of Marci Garland’s desk as the woman read his resignation letter. Though Art had been a chaplain for forty years, he answered to the Religious Activities Coordinator who was young enough to be his granddaughter.
Marci set his letter aside and folded her hands. Art watched her face as she smirked and considered her words. He couldn’t avoid noticing the skeleton tattoo on her neck.
“I don’t understand, Mr. Rosse. You’re resigning after all this time? I thought you had inmates you ‘shepherded.'” She used air quotes to emphasize her disdain. “Why are you leaving now?”
“The new government regulations make it impossible for me to stay. If I remained and complied with my job requirements, I’d be forced to compromise my faith as a Christian.”
“But you’re practicing your faith. Don’t you preach to your ‘flock’ every Sunday?”
“I explained in the letter. Now, I’m required to facilitate the other forty or so religions on the prison grounds.”
“But you get to keep practicing your Christianity. You just have to provide services for the other faiths as well. We can’t discriminate.”
“You can’t, I understand.” Art smiled, realizing that if he was already resigning, he didn’t need to worry about losing his job now by speaking candidly. Not that it had ever stopped him before. “The God of the Bible discriminates against sin. Heaven and hell also discriminate against their enemies. I have to remain loyal to God.”
“I thought God loved everyone.” Marci leaned forward and batted her eyelashes, mockingly. “Even me.”
“He does have love for all people, but He has no love for lies and false gods. Heaven discriminates against unrepentant sinners, and hell discriminates against souls made righteous by faith in Christ’s sacrifice.”
“You’re losing me.” She rolled her eyes.
“Christianity identifies a mutually exclusive God—the only God. I cannot facilitate other religious groups in the prison chapel as they worship trees, saints, Odin, Allah, cows, and other fictional deities. I care too much for God and too much for the lost souls in this prison to support ideas contrary to Jesus Christ—and reality.”
“Well, if that’s your self-righteous decision, you and I don’t really need to talk anymore. Your letter is clear enough. You’re finished here. Now I need to find another chaplain. Where am I supposed to do that?”
“Sadly, there are plenty of people willing to compromise their faith to fill the Protestant Chaplain position.” Art held up his hand. “However, you may not have to find a replacement at all. That’s why I didn’t want to give you the letter without talking to you.”
“You lost me again.”
“I think you should resign with me.”
“What?” She guffawed, then covered her mouth. “Are you insane? Why would I leave my job?”
“There are practical reasons and spiritual reasons. You may not be a Christian, yet, but God gave you a conscience. This life is not an accident of nature. You and I speaking right now, at this time in your life, is no coincidence. Marci, you’re more important to God than the world gives you credit for. It’s time to face the things that have kept you in bondage to society’s expectations and pressures. If this is my last day, I want to talk to you plainly about these things. May I continue?”
“I haven’t kicked you out yet.”
Art smiled. Even as he resigned his chaplain position, as a caring Christian, he had one last job to do. Marci needed to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.
You can find other short story adventures at this link.
NOTES: Thanks to Jean Fleury for including a link to Dark Liaison in his online newspaper! And thanks to Jayakumar Sadhasivam for including David’s post, “Origin of the Legend of Okeanos” in his Jan 3 online newspaper!