West Wing Closet

Alice Roosevelt Longworth described Warren G. Harding and his crudities as “just a slob.” Alice was often “over the top” in her descriptions. Most people were drawn to his warmth and easy personality. Especially the women. He was considered handsome and allegedly used “a small closet in the anteroom in the West Wing” for sexual activities.

His 700 page biography has been in my library for several years. It is intriguing because of the blank pages and excised paragraphs. The author of The Shadow of Blooming Grove, Francis Russell explains:

“This book as it now appears has a scattering of blank spaces in the text of several chapters where I had originally quoted from Hardings’ love letters to Carrie Phillips. I have been forced to these deletions because of a restraining order….”

Rather than delay the publication beyond the previous four years, the writer explains “…leaving blanks where quotations from the letters…. In his sexuality, he was Adolphe rather than Don Juan. Carrie Phillips was clearly the love of his life, and he was more loving than loved.”

A New York Times headline today says that DNA has proven that Harding did indeed have a love child. The mother was not Carrie Phillips, but Nan Britton who was 31 years younger than the 29th President. She wrote a book, “The President’s Daughter” which created 90 years of rebuttal, scandal and stirred resentment toward Ms. Britton’s family.

Well, the new DNA test proves beyond a doubt—Elizabeth Ann Blaesing was President Warren G. Harding’s daughter. Her grandson says, “She loved this guy. The tests finally vindicate my grandmother. I wanted to prove who she was….”

Funny. Carrie Phillips is also vindicated as is the writer Francis Russell. The blank pages and the empty paragraphs have bothered me because they suggested a story about a person who some tried to erase from history. The sadness grows as I think of this story. Harding provided financial support, but never met his daughter. Never met his daughter!

In my scraping the walls of my soul to ask about my passion and purpose, it is clear to me that I am motivated to help people find who they are and why God placed them on the planet at this specific time. Also it is the desire to minister healing to those who are held back by self-rejection, self-betrayal (or conscious sin) from being the whole person God meant when He first thought of them.

A forty-year old acquaintance is “feeling” as if something is missing. Satisfaction eludes him. He responds to that undefined itch by “trading up.” Jobs, relationships, possessions. Many of his friends would like to be in his shoes, but he is uncomfortable in his shoes. He doesn’t know if he fits in his own shoes—or if they are really his shoes.

He can’t verbalize what is missing, but he is driven by the lack. The “wound” happened prior to his ability to conceptualize or verbalize what he was feeling and experiencing. Carole asked me, “Will he ever be in any environment where God can speak to him about what is missing?”

My soul surged at the question. My passion is to provide that atmosphere based on the belief that the Holy Spirit—Counselor—reaches that deep and does good work.

I do not find Harding’s dalliances titillating. My passion is to bring healing to the unfulfilled soul and in the case of Nan Britton, it is the question of not fitting, not belonging and feeling as if life is not what it should be.

My new novel Depot is about finding the place we fit and what caused the sink hole for Gil and Amanda Adams. It is about the pursuit and discovery of that which keeps us from being comfortable in our own skin and shoes. And for the Elizabeth Ann in us who wonders where we fit and where we belong. And if we are legit.

Have you heard of a spiritual DNA test?

© 2015 D. Dean Benton Writer, Wonderer, Husband of my wife, Father of my kids


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