Churchgoing still means something

Churchgoing still means something

In a story about the shocking murder of 76-year-old grandfather in his home by a contractor hired to install a lawn sprinkler system, there’s an interesting echo of a previous era in the language used to describe the victim.

Dunn was working for a company installing a sprinkler system at Moore’s house when the churchgoing grandfather was brutally attacked. The motive is still unclear. []emphasis added]

There’s nothing in the story that refers to the religious devotion of the victim except that one adjective. (As it turns out, Moore was a well-known and well-liked parishioner at the local Catholic parish.) So why does the reporter include it?

It’s clear that it elicits pathos for the victim, as much as describing him as a grandfather does. There’s nothing sinister in it. A good reporter should be able to convey the horror of a crime. The beating death of an elderly man is not the same as a shootout between drug dealers, even though in both cases a human being loses his life. The tragedy is different.

What’s interesting is that even in this secularized world so cynical toward religious devotion (especially Christianity), the description as churchgoing still brings to mind the image of someone as innocent, trusting, and undeserving of such brutality.

I don’t mean to use this tragic death as a dry and uncaring dissection of journalistic practice, but just to point out something interesting that caught my eye. Mr. Moore, his daughter-in-law, and their families are in my prayers.

  • Dom,

    I agree with your assessment.  I take it as a sign of hope that our culture still sees something special about going to church, it may not be much of a glimer of hope, but it goes to show that hope is still there.

  • Please do keep the family in your prayers.  My daughter went to grammar school (local Catholic school) with the grandson who probably saved the daughter’s life by chasing away the murderer.

    Also keep all the children in Needham in your prayers—every school in town was locked down for two hours while the police tracked down the murderer.  A traumatic experience for everyone.