Inspired by John Podhoretz’s luminous, must-read remembrance of his sister Rachel, who died earlier this year from stomach cancer, Caroline Langston remembers her older brother John, who (mercifully) still lives, but who, in his unconventional, deeply un-Mississippi life — the Langstons are a Mississippi clan — evoked his little sister’s boundless admiration. Excerpt:
Here’s a portrait, perfectly limned to the time: Among the employees at the school pictures developing plant were a group of Vietnamese refugees, smuggled out of South Vietnam through Thailand, and resettled by the Southern Baptist Convention (a story that needs to be told) in Jackson. John came to know this group of unrelated, displaced young men, joked around with them at work, and at last, in thanks, they invited him to a dinner party at their threadbare apartment. He remembers arriving at a residence that contained almost no furniture, and being served an elaborate Vietnamese meal that they had labored over—so modest, he recalled to me, but so welcoming and generous.
Another person, I think, would not have ventured so blithely into the cultural unknown. Would not have been the finest listener I have ever known. The one, in fact—as I say to all my atheist friends—who fully demonstrated the Incarnation even while he knew it not. And who, unexpectedly as ever, decided in his fifties to return to Jesus, and became a Roman Catholic.
I was never a non-believer, just a prodigal son, he said to me today.
If you have a brother or a sister whom you admire greatly, please tell them so. It’s important.