“He was seeking redemption,” [said Roy Ratcliff, minister of the Mandrake Road Church of Christ in Madison], recalling how Mr. Dahmer often spoke of being the worst of sinners. “He was seeking forgiveness.”...Well, he also wrote a book about it. As Barry puts it: "'Dark Journey, Deep Grace,' has sold poorly — perhaps, he says, because people cannot see that a story about Mr. Dahmer is a story about all of us." Oh, please! It's one thing to recognize the proper role of a minister baptizing someone who has committed murder. It's quite another to read the book he writes about a famous serial killer. I haven't seen this book, but is it the best book to read if you want to curl up with info about Dahmer or if, alternatively, you want to read a book about Christian redemption? What's with Barry/Ratcliff acting like people are shallow for not wanting to read it?
Every Wednesday for months afterward, Mr. Ratcliff met with Mr. Dahmer to pray. The convict said he should have been put to death for his crimes, and his minister agreed. He talked about suicide, something the preacher had flirted with many years earlier, after being fired from another church. A shared faith drew the different men together....
After a discreet memorial service at the minister’s church in Madison, after the notorious surname had slipped into the recesses of public consciousness, Mr. Ratcliff continued to be identified as the man who baptized the serial killer. Both in and out of the Church of Christ community, some embraced him for it, while others shunned him.
March 11, 2007
Dan Barry writes about the minister who baptized Jeffrey Dahmer (TimesSelect link):