Auchter's Art: Knocking on heaven's door | Michigan Radio
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Auchter's Art: Knocking on heaven's door

Aug 9, 2019

It's a classic editorial cartooning trope: drawing a recently deceased famous person at heaven's gate. It's been overdone and often mishandled. For instance, when Steve Jobs died a few years ago, there were all sorts of cartoons featuring him at heaven's gate, making witty remarks to St. Peter about having an app for getting in. The thing is, Jobs was a Buddhist, which involves neither St. Peter nor heaven.

So my unique angle on this: L. Brooks Patterson is not quite to heaven's gate, but in purgatory. For non-Catholics out there, purgatory is the concept that after death a soul not pure enough to enter heaven needs to be cleansed first. And this place or state of being is where that happens. Going further into description here only invites a theological debate I have no intention of participating in. Suffice to say, the purpose of purgatory (if it in fact exists) is atonement.

This all seems like a plausible eventuality for Patterson. His obit was a laundry list of good and bad. The additional Twilight-Zone twist is him having to be there with his arch-nemesis in life, Coleman Young. Like Patterson, supporters and detractors have very specific feelings about Young. But I think it's fair to say that their battles of Oakland County vs. Detroit may have served their specific interests well, but did more harm than good to the region as a whole.

John Auchter is a freelance political cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.