Haley Mudrick’s personal essay, “If I Could Write to Truman Capote,” excerpted below, won the New Jersey Council of Teachers of English 2015 Gold Medal for Creative Nonfiction.
Dear Mr. Capote,
I was raised to believe that people could be forgiven for their sins if they were truly sorry. But the thing about religion and faith is that you believe what you believe is right because nothing in this world can be absolutely proven. We can’t prove Jesus existed, we can’t prove God exists and we can’t prove a faith is correct. I was taught by the laws of the Bible, but ultimately I believe what I believe. I’d like to believe that God forgives when we are truly sorry. Not everyone agrees with that. Some people say there are certain sins that can’t be forgiven—that there are some sins that cross intangible boundaries on the scale of morality. I’d say they’re a bit harsh. They’d say I’m a bit of a hippie because I say, “We’re all equal” and “We all make mistakes.” But if the definition of a hippie is someone who believes in equality and love for all, then I guess we should put a flower crown on the crucifix.