John McCain’s Cross In the Dirt: Faith Of Someone Else’s Father
But the more interesting McCain story du jour regards a moving tale he recounted at the Saddleback event, about the time he spent in North Vietnam — the "turning moment" in his captivity where a prison guard wordlessly drew a cross in the dirt.
Yes, I’m touched too. But as Andrew Sullivan notes this morning, McCain managed to leave this pivotal emotional event out of his 1973 biography.
A hauntingly similar story was told by Solzhenitsyn in his 1973 Gulag Archapelago:
Leaving his shovel on the ground, he slowly walked to a crude bench and sat down. He knew that at any moment a guard would order him to stand up, and when he failed to respond, the guard would beat him to death, probably with his own shovel. He had seen it happen to other prisoners.
As he waited, head down, he felt a presence. Slowly he looked up and saw a skinny old prisoner squat down beside him. The man said nothing. Instead, he used a stick to trace in the dirt the sign of the Cross. The man then got back up and returned to his work.
As Solzhenitsyn stared at the Cross drawn in the dirt his entire perspective changed.
I’ll leave it to religious experts to debate whether it’s more likely that this incident occurred in the cold war Soviet Union or an Asian prison camp, but per Dave Johnson this morning, McCain told the same story in 2000 — about a different prisoner.
Maybe he’s just so reluctant to talk about his captivity that he just didn’t want to mention the eerie parallels to his own experience. But it seem that in 2005, the Freepers were calling bullshit, too.
Michael Goldfarb, asleep at the wheel?
Maybe Andrea Mitchell will be getting some company.