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Born May 18, 1953; got saved at Truett Memorial BC in Hayesville, NC 1959. On rigged ballot which I did not rig got Most Intellectual class of 71, Gaffney High School. Furman Grad, Sociology major but it was little tougher than Auburn football players had Had three dates with beautiful women the summer of 1978. Did not marry any of em. Never married anybody cause what was available was undesirable and what was desirable was unaffordable. Unlucky in love as they say and even still it is sometimes heartbreaking. Had a Pakistani Jr. Davis Cupper on the Ropes the summer of 84, City Courts, Rome Georgia I've a baby sitter, watched peoples homes while they were away on Vacation. Freelance writer, local consultant, screenwriter, and the best damn substitute teacher of Floyd County Georgia in mid 80's according to an anonymous kid passed me on main street a few years later when I went back to get a sandwich at Schroeders. Had some good moments in Collinsville as well. Ask Casey Mattox at if he will be honest about it. I try my best to make it to Bridges BBQ in Shelby NC at least four times a year.

Monday, August 12, 2019

A Poem appropriating the Billy Collins genre/ Riff on Train Dreams

   Okay, I don't embarrass easily but this blog may come back to haunt me. I'm no expert on the poet Billy Collins but like his poem Catholicism. 

    I called the Paul Finebaum show last year or maybe two years ago and read the last sentence of the novella Train Dreams. James Wood likes the book and I do too.

    The last sentence is a long one. If you read it may add merit to my poem

    A Riff on Train Dreams

    Late Night windows rattlin

    Time and the Bama rails

   You pick a title

    The Track was Laid in 1867
     Behind my grandmother's house in Alabama

   And now the chattering gravel
   the quaking rail and ties
   the house shaking panes

   Train Dreams wake me.

    After passing,
    The Reverberations echoing
    Between Lookout and
   the outcropping of Sand

   In that dark quiet I can hear
    Keener and Attalla

    And sometime
    On down past Tuscaloosa
   And the Paul Finebaum Show

   All the way to the Mississippi Line




Monday, July 29, 2019

Meadows doesn't know his Baptist history

      The following letter was published in the July 25 issue of the Clay County Progress in Hayesville NC, in the US congressional district of super Trumper Mark Meadows who also claims to be of the Baptist faith.

     I was baptized in the Truett Memorial Baptist Church in 1959 when my Father was pastor there. Within the following year one of his professors Stewart A Newman with two other faculty from the seminary in Wake Forest stopped by for a meal on the way to Nashville for some Baptist conversations on the nature of the Bible.

     Just four years earlier Newman had followed the famous pastor of the Time W. A Criswell, Truett's successor of FBC of Dallas Texas, to the podium of the South Carolina Baptist pastor's conference.   Criswell in 56 HAD Delivered  Fiery Race Baiting Speech to the  Pastor's Conference and the next day a joint session of the SC legislature.

    In an address where Criswell said things like I wouldn't let my daughter within two city blocks of A Big Black Buck; and you wouldn't call a Chigger a Chiggerow, now would ya, Newman's reply when his turn came  was: "W.A. Criswell doesn't speak for me. "

     There were only two pastors in the church in the 20th Century at FBC Dallas , Truett and Criswell. Historians say Truett, the Baptist born in Hayesville was likely the greatest Baptist of the First Half of the 20th Century.

    In Princeton author Robert Wuthnow's Book Rough Country, Wuthnow in the Chapter from Judge Lynch to Jim Crow lays out how Truett leaned forward in his Day on matters of Race.

    Now we have folks like the current pastor at FBC Dallas Jeffress and Jerry Falwell Jr, even Franklin Graham in the Trump Train not to mention Mark Meadows. Criswell set the template for them all.

     To me Trump and his spin meister Stephen Miller--I saw the Sunday interview on Fox News of Miller by Chris Wallace--are more un American than the Squad. Ask the majority of players for ACC basketball and or SEC Football what the phrase go Back to Where you Came from means to them.

    On Tuesday July 17 on Ga NPR program Political Rewind a panel of Three Jews and Two Black people said they have much more to fear, are more threatened by the rhetoric of Trump and his Send her Back Ralleys, than they are by some of the misguided statements of the Squad.

    One of the Jews was twice elected Attorney General for the State of Georgia.

   Or for that matter ask the faculty of Western Carolina, Mars Hill and Appalachian State, ask David Thompson's High School track team member Ron Rash or his novelist colleague at App State Mark Powell.

    Here is a true test for Baptist Christians in Western North Carolina, are they part of the discerning Body of Christ in the legacy of George W. Truett, or are they trapped in the culture of WA Criswell and his lesser understanding of the Gospel for the Public Square and the great vision of the Declaration and its self evident Truths?

Monday, July 22, 2019

Christ Church Greenville's US Congressman Timmons needs history lesson re Trump and the AOC Squad

      William Timmons family name adorns the basketball arena of Furman University. I am a graduate of Furman but of much greater significance it is also the alma mater of Marshall Frady, the consensus greatest social Justice journalist of the last half of the 20th Century.

     But Frady's legacy is apparently lost on a graduate of the pristine Christ Church Episcopal prep school, educating Greenville's wealthiest and most influential for 75 years or more one being Timmons, the successor of Fox News Darling Trey Gowdy in the Upstate.

     Timmons equivocating, lukewarm statement on the outrages of Donald Trump's latest outrage this last week in unworthy of Christ Church, the preaching of the Great Episcopal pulpiteers Fleming Rutledge, not to mention the longstanding association, trustee networking of the school to Frady's alma mater.

    Here is a history lesson for Timmons he seems to have missed at Christ Church and then George Washington.

    And here is hoping this fall at Christ Church and Furman there is a review of the documentary Uprising of 34 to conflate the Professor lesson above about labor strife in America and how language used then against Ella Mae Wiggins and her white working class friends from Greenville to Gaffney up through the Piedmont of the Carolinas is the same Stephen Miller and Trump are using now against The Squad in their campaign to bamboozle white working class folks downward in resentment and despair while Trump funnels wealth upstream.

     It is despicable such a polished fellow in what passes for Destination City's highest level of Southern gentility is complicit in such a travesty.

Monday, July 15, 2019

SBC complicitous in Trump's Venality

     Well the Southern Baptists remain struck mute far as I can tell about the venality of the Trump Administration. Beginning with a July 9 NPR Fresh Air interview on gerrymandering and the Census Question, to Trump's baiting of AOC's squad to the Fox News made for prime TV Immigration roundup to a spot conversation this morning on NPR 1a program featuring Vandy's Jonathan Metzl it's an avalanche of mendacity and venality which has Southern Baptist leadership overwhelmed and out to lunch..

       I don't have time to do this avalanche justice and you're in the fog if you don't do the background reading.

    But here are some things you can google, some transcripts you can read in addition to the Fresh Air program. BTW Fresh Air Gerrymander chat  spotlights,  brings new frame to Kris Kobach. For Kobach context with the SBC see my Dying of Whiteness blog a few posts back.

       On Saturday NPR weekend edition afternoon hour had segment with a woman who covered Trump's Social Media summit July 5 had a post on how Trump continues to bedazzle his fundamentalist base. That piece had bizarre quote by Eric Metaxas, a guru in his own right for the Truth for a New Generation conferences of a decade ago at FBC Spartanburg SC and just a few months ago featured lecturer at Historically Baptist affiliated Samford University in Birmingham Alabama.

    The Sunday before July 4th Metaxas guest filled the pulpit of 2nd Baptist megachurch Houston Texas whose Ed Young was hardwired to Nixon's Southern Strategist during his days in Columbia South Carolina.

    One thing my alma mater, Furman University can do in what may be a losing cause in Upstate SC, is have Derrick Harkins on campus  this fall with Furman 65 grad Pat Anderson, now editor of the progressive Baptist quarterly Christian Ethics Today. Harkins is not only a disciple of likely the wisest professing Christian left in America, Marilynne Robinson, he also from his days as a pastor in the 90s in Dallas Texas understands the distinct Baptist legacies of George W. Truett and WA Criswell, something apparently the US Congressman for WNC, Mark Meadows, does not.

    Truett was born in Hayesville, NC in 1867

     So is there an LD Johnson, a Carlyle Marney left who has a wise public word before the South Carolina Presidential Primary?

    I guess we will have to wait and see.

     Here is a link to the witness and hope of Derrick Harkins

    Trump's social media recap

   And scroll down a third of the way in the following link to see how squarely Eunie Smith--see DofWhiteness blog--friend Kobach fits in the Steve Bannon strategy for Trump's immigration politics

   and the great, the magisterial to Trump, Eric Metaxas and all Their minions:

Monday, July 08, 2019

Which More significant, Moon Landing or King's Dream Speech

   Friends I sent out a text to several Revenants, mostly in Alabama, this morning posing the question. A former SGA President of a historically Baptist College who had friends in the Bush 43 White House and helicopter landings in Jasper Missouri is resolute that the Moon Landing of 69 was most significant mid 20th Century.

    I think Harvard Historian Jill Lepore is correct when on the third page of her magisterial 2018 history of America, These Truths, she spotlights the picture of Martin Luther King on the Mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial August 1963 when Mahalia Jackson spoke out loud enough for him to Hear, Martin, Tell em about the Dream.

    Frye Galliard does justice to both events in his Chronicle of the 60s Hard Rain.

    And one of my texters, a seminary graduate replied this morning:

       I wonder if we coulda had one without the other.... But I would definitely say the King Speech.

   I'm with him and my perception of Lepore's leaning.

     What do you think?

     FTR That night in 69 I was across the road in Alabama, the one Bonhoeffer came up in 31. summer of my tenth grade year. Furthrest thing from my mind at the time. Had been living in South Carolina for seven years, that 50 years later I would end up across the road.

   As Paris Trout Said, Cradle to Cradle

Monday, June 17, 2019

Guns, Immigration, Health Care and the Trump Base Dying of Whiteness

       In a TED Talk on NPR April 2, Howard Stevenson tells a story about a presentation at a Southern Baptist Seminary on lynching. In one photo he points out two children in a picture witnessing a lynching. One of the white ministers in training breaks down uncontrollably, sobbing and confesses as a child he witnessed a lynching.
    The Black presenter Stevenson stops the class  while the seminarian regains his composure, confessing that he is now a pastor in a transitional neighborhood and has people of color in his congregation and hasn't been able to reconcile this memory with the ministerial task now facing him.
     Stevenson asks what about engaging the conversation about healing your own soul while doing justice work for people of color.
     Such sentiment is at the guts of Vanderbilt professon Jonathan Metzl and his book Dying of Whiteness that appeared on bookshelves March 5. In Tennessee, Missouri and Kansas Metzl looks at the Trump Base and the peculiar reality of white working class males voting against the best interests of themselves and their children with an ideology saturated with race and minority resentment. His charts and data make a compelling case white males in Trumps MAGA are shortening their own quality of life and life expectancy in the areas of guns, health reform and funding of schools.

    Though he never utters the word Baptist in his book, Dying of Whiteness meshes well with the Baptist story of the last 40 years. Metzl explores the legacy of Kris Kobach in his chapters on Kansas, and suggests he is former Governor Sam Brownback on steroids.
     In her grand history of America published in the fall of 2018, Jill Lepore spotlights in the chapter Battle Lines the legacy of EAgle Forum's Phyliss Schlafly. Lepore says it was the network of Schlafly including her ties to the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention that had its roots in the John Birch Society and White Citizens Council Backlash conservatism emerging out of the McCarthy era and resistance to Brown v Board and the integration of public education that laid the groundwork for Donald's Trump's America. In fact one her last big moments was in 2016 when Trump saluted Schlafly in person in St. Louis.
     As an aside on Lepore, your know you are reading new territory when in secular history of America, in the chapter on the Scopes Trial and Fundamentalism you have this quote by J Frank Norris himself: "I was born on the dark moon night, in the dog fennel season, when a black cat jumped on a black coffin".
    It was the head of the Alabama Eagle Forum, Eunie Smith, who introduced Kris Kobach to Scott Beason of FBC Gardendale Alabama and the concoction of the draconian Alabama immigration Bill that brought a second chapter of Civil Rights and Justice Shame to Alabama in 2009--google Willimon repents, ethicsdaily.
    Metzl paints that same picture in Kansas with the Koch Brothers heavy funding of the politics  of Brownback and anti immigration lawyer Kobach.
     Metzl repeatedly comes back to his themes of austerity  and backlash politics that result in "upstream wealth and downstream despair".

     His concluding thoughts are worthy of quoting in full: 

      In our Midwest  there were certain tensions about fitting in--as Jews we were in many ways, white outsiders. But our family also thrived in Missouri and Kansas because of strong regional traditions of neighborliness, kindness and goodwill. These are the traditions that seem ever more in peril in this Trump moment of divisiveness. A moment when one side of a debate amasses arms, guts social programs that benefit the least among us and falls into a narrative in which the viability of certain groups exists only in relation to the despair of others.....[It was not always this way] and to be great we  again we must not fall prey to prefabricated and manipulated polarizations. Let us hope for all our sakes and for the future of our nation, that the white America of which I am a part can find a politics worthy of living for, rather than one whose enormity is marked by increasingly autoimmune forms of conflict, disempowerment and despair.

    More of how all this intersects the fundamentalism of the SBC can be found at Fox Blog,


     Robert Wuthnow has noted the strategies of Lee Atwater to find new avenues to bait white working class males--the underlying thesis of Metzl--with the politics of abortion and guns. In fact former Governor of Georgia, Roy Barnes said a few years ago on Georgia public radio it was Lee Atwater's dream to have every  white voter in the south go in a voting booth with a choice between a Black Democrat and a White Republican.
     Whatever the nuance of Kevin Kruse about millennial Southern Baptists, the current leadership of the Southern Baptist convention has some integrity issues if they can't engage the conversation about the key leadership of the takeover, Pressler, Patterson, Jesse Helms, Albert Lee Smith and Ed McAteer.
    In 1993 Yale Professor Harold Bloom nailed it for me: "The tragedy of  the Southern Baptist Convention is the result of a cultural and political conspiracy that continues to masquerade as a religious movement."
   Reading Metzl informed by Lepore and Wuthnow and the SBC role in how we got to this disaster of the Trump era, should be the subject of earnest conversation when the SBC meets in Birmingham, Alabama this summer.


Bird Thompson Remembers Gaffney's Finest eateries in the Halcyon Days of the 60s and 70s

     Bird Dean Thompson was older brother of my classmate. Lucille. He was a lineman for Wayne Whiteside right in the Middle of one chapter of Gaffney's gridiron Glory Days. I remember in Ms Sutton's sixth grade class in fall of  64 Lucille gave us a straight from the Huddle report on Gaffney's chances one afternoon for our prospects that evening.

     Bird worked for the fire department with Chief Petty in the 70s and one of my fondest and most colorful conversations privy too Bird witnessed the summer we exitted Gaffney in 78. My family had already gone to Knoxville and I stuck around a couple weeks.

    Petty was a deacon at Bethany Church. I stopped in the Fire Hall late one afternoon and now that the dust was settling a little Chief Petty was unhindered in his perspective. He was laying it down. Bird was up squatted on a Bunk Bed and he kept chimin in: "Charles is Right; Charles is Right."

       Bird recently graced the letters column of the Cherokee Chronicle whose editor is the Gaffney Great Raconteur Tommy Martin.

    Here is Bird in his own words and his finest with fond memories

“Good day Mr. Martin, speaking of your article Thursday on ‘Delicious
Memories,’ I know someone will remember these places, but here goes.
“On Monday nights after a home football game on Friday, the booster
club would feed the Gaffney team at Mabry’s downtown, There was the
Little MOO up by the swimming pool, Jack Millwood, his wife and Eddie
ran the place, the hamburger meat was always white never could figure
that out,
“Willard’s down on Pecan Street was all ways a treat for hash, Paul
Turner and his wife and Pat and Linda open the Pizza Inn over by the
Overhead bridge.
“Other places were treats also: Roses Dime Store had lunch counter
where you could get drinks, ice cream and sandwiches, the round seats
would go round and round, that was a cheap ride.
“You could go downtown on Saturday and get a haircut and then go
to Browns Market and look in the window and see all those fried chickens
going around and around. They would use a large fork and pick up the
chicken and drop it in a bucket of BBQ sauce and then put it in a lined bag.
It stayed hot enough to get home.
“When you went to a drug store you could get a ham, egg salad on
toast. You could always go and have the other Chicken (who ran the
BlueBird) grind you some ice and open a Pepsi. Nowhere on this earth
could you find something so good.
“Once a year we got to go to Kelly’s across the river. Its still the best.
You could all ways Get to Jennings Trading Post and get a footlong hotdog
all the way.
“Thanks for the good work, As JM Smith would say, “Gaffney is the
finest place on Gods green earth, (was and is)” – Dean “Bird” Thompson,
Spartanburg, and proud Gaffney native

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Southern Baptists obscure tawdry history in Birmingham

    Southern Baptists held their national convocation in Birmingham this week and acted like the takeover that began in 1979 had nothing to do with the John Birch Society and the Eagle Forum and leftovers from the White Citizens Council had nothing to do to put in place these vanilla coated 'reformers" posing as repentants on a sex scandal was the point.

    The main point is the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC was crafted by the network of Jesse Helms, Ed McAteer and Paul Pressler and their friends in the Council for National Policy and all the obfuscation in the world can't negate this purgatory they are in now.

  JD Grear is to be congratulated for a decent admission of this current crisis on a hot issue, as a former "reformer" the pastor Bryant Wright of Johnson Ferry in Cobb County Georgia who witnesses during Atlanta Braves  commercials is to be congratulated for resisting Donald Trump with a segment on CBS Sixty Minutes for taking in Ten Syrian Refugee Families.

    But the SBC CEO is now Ronnie Floyd a man from Northwest Arksansas marinated in the right wing politics of the 79 fundamentalist leadership. The current leadership is complicitous in the mess. They haven't done their homework of careful reads of Wuthnow's Rough Country, Jill Lepore Chapter Battle Lines in her magisterial history of 2018 These Truths, nor read the Apostles of Reason by Molly Worthen, nor responded to Jane Mayer's On the Media of NPR revelations about how the Baptist pulpits, the takeover got us to this Trump Moment of Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr.

     There are reports on this round of the SBC at Baptist Global News; there is Jonathan Merritt's overview at the Atlantic that misses the point of the references in the preceeding paragraph of this blog and there is a discussion at SBC Trends of the forums of if you want to take a peak at how the homeboys are analyzing this latest round.

    This 1a NPR hour chat on Tuesday may be the best of the week. It featured SBC's resident "intellectual" Al Mohler, the Calvinist inerrantist Tom Ascol, and a Duke Div proff raised Baptist now preaching with the Methodists. Ascol pretty much got his hiney kicked on the nature of Scripture.

     Rick Lance the CEO of Bama Baptists like SAra Huckabee Sanders homer Ronnie Floyd of Arkansas will never admit that this latest round of abortion politics in Georgia and Alabama is an outgrowth of the race baiting politics of Wallace of the 60s and Atwater in the 80s and 90s. Atwater admits as much But Trumps base in Ga and Alabama are still trying to put lipstick on the Pig and the pimping is about to play out.