And from the beginning, the newspaper makes it clear that Katie Brown's Christian faith is a big part of what makes her special:
You may not have met Katie Brown, but you know her.
The sprightly 69-year-old lab assistant at Jackson Healthcare for Women has a presence that makes it really hard, almost devastatingly so, to stay in a bad mood. A God-fearing, Southern woman who you imagine came into this world smiling while the rest of us were red-faced and hollering.
Makes sense. Brown seems like she was born to smile.
That smile made a patient forget Brown's instructions.
“(I told them,) 'Go to the room,' and she said, 'What did you say? Katie, I was just looking at your smile.'”
Brown said it comes from her father, Willie Thomas, better known as Sarge, who worked at the VA for 30 years and encouraged those broken in spirit.
Victor Hugo wrote, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” If that’s true, “Ms. Katie” (and Southern folks will tell you it’ll always be Ms. Katie, even if she tells you to call her different — she commands such respect) has brought a piece of heaven to four generations of patients over the past 51 years.
“I just try to let my light shine for everybody,” Brown said before going on to reference a verse from the Gospels. “You may be taking care of Jesus. I don’t want him to say, ‘Katie you didn’t take care of me,’ I want him to say, ‘Well done.'”
At this point, I'm relatively confident the Clarion-Ledger will avoid any holy ghosts. Yes, the decision to reference a "verse from the Gospels" as opposed to a specific Scripture puts my GetReligion antenna on alert. Still, the newspaper seems to understand the importance of Brown's religion to the story.
But while the feature teases readers with the role of Brown's faith, the Clarion-Ledger never delves into it. Readers never even find out where Brown goes to church. Is that too much to ask?
Overall, the writer seems to grasp the power of proper nouns. Check out this section (boldface emphasis mine):
When she was 13, her mother —eight months pregnant— died.
“It was sad — but life goes on,” Brown said.
And it did. Getting up everyday, going to school, church, the grocery store — just living, it all continued. The weekly trips to Hank’s Grocery with her grandparents, who raised her, is how she met her husband, Robert. Brown was one of 10 children. And buying groceries for the family was a full-scale production, one in which Robert, who worked at the grocery store, had an unwanted leading role — loading the groceries into the family’s Chevrolet.
So we get Hank's Grocery, a Chevrolet ... and a generic church. Wait, what!?
Maybe I'm being overly critical — and by all means, tell me if that's the case — but wouldn't readers want to know that crucial detail? I mean, a "God-fearing" woman quotes Scripture in an interview with a newspaper reporter. Does anyone doubt that her specific Christian background came up?
So why not print that information?
I'm at a loss to explain this omission, particularly in a story that — as one of my fellow GetReligionistas pointed out — is otherwise "pretty God-infused."