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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.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Four Conversations with President Carter

   Sunday July 8 I was in Plains Georgia for President Jimmy Carter's Sunday School class. I got in the overflow room and he came in there for a few minutes of conversation before going in the sanctuary for his Popular Sunday School Class. He asked where people were from and when it came my time I volunteered I was from Collinsville, Alabama where my Grandfather had been a Lincoln Republican. I asked him if not to early in the morning to entertain such notions could he comment on the difference between his great friend of Alabama the Lincoln Republican Judge Frank Johnson and the current crop.

    With a big smile he said, Well there is a difference. Then he got somber and said some of you may know Frank Johnson was my nominee to be attorney General, but he had a bout with ill health and withdrew his nomination. Then Carter said I have gotten to know many great Americans in my lifetime and if not the greatest American, Frank Johnson is very near the top.

    I saw Carter at Furman circa 74 but didn't have a chance to speak to him then. My Good friend the former Chaplain Jim Pitts, whose father was Nixon's barber, has told me on several occasions about his lunch with Carter after a presentation Carter came over to SC to give in Charleston during the SC SBC. This was in 73 or 74. Carter was in town to present the Macdowell Award for Baptist citizenship to Martin England, a founder of Koinonia Farms, and the man widely known to be the initial courier of ML King's letter from the Birmingham Jail to the wider world. Pitts went with then Governor Carter, Martin and Mabel England to lunch, just the four of them.

     In 1993 I was in a Press Room in Birmingham for a CBF convocation where Carter spoke. I said Tom Edsall of the Wash Post in his 83 Book New Politics of Inequality said it was independent oil producers in TX Ok and La who were energized by a windfall profits tax on oil during the Carter Administration to work to make him a one term President. Edsall said thisfaction had bankrolled Birchers and the right wing as far back as Joe McCarthy to have a voice of their own in the US Congress.  As Fundmanentalist leader Paul Pressler's family had long time been in the oil business, Exxon in particular and were marinated in right wing politics for several generations againt Civil Rights and Lyndon Johnson, had he thought about that aspect of the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention. He said it had not crossed his radar but found it very interesting.

    In 2007 I was in Atlanta for the Inaugural meeting of the New Baptist Covenant where John Grisham and others spoke. there were many workshops. I attended one on immigration and Carter was there and I spoke to him briefly.

    In 2012 Carter was a keynote speaker in Americus Georgia the opening night for a weekend anniversary celebration of Clarence Jordan and the founding of Koinonia that was key component of the evolution into Habitat for Humanity. I got up front to ask Carter if he was aware Lester Maddox nephew, Baxter Wynn, a Furman trustee and staffer at FBC Greenville was out front in Greenville to come around to honoring the Martin Luther King Holiday.

   I'm not sure Carter completely understood me but again there was a big smile and he said something to the effect Times Change.

    So I'm well aware there have been other more substantive exchanges with Carter including my fellow Furman grad Marshall Frady and his national pieces when Carter was elected President, and my friend Randall Balmer and his new religious political bio of Carter.

   Find Balmer's book. It's a good one.

   I did get to ask a President of the United States a question and bring to his attention my noble Grandfather, my Mother's father, and I am proud of that.

   Post script. On January 31, 2009 I attended a New Baptist Covenant Convocation at the Iconic 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Marian Wright Edelman was there as was Kate Campbell who opened for Emmy Lou Harris in Europe in 2002. Church was packed Standing Room Only when President Carter spoke, I was standing right under the stained glass window when President Carter pointed to it from the Pulpit and reminded the gathered the face of Jesus was blown out in the bomb that killed the four little black girls in September of 1963 just a few weeks after Martin Luther King's I have a Dream Sermon in D.C. and two months before President Kennedy was assassinated.

   I did not speak to Carter that day but was in the crux of a historical moment. Two people down from me to my left was Wayne Flynt, Harper Lee's best friend in Alabama.

   I was there that day for once right where my Momma wanted me to be.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

The Axis of Evil and Trump's Alabama

        The title of this blog is from a sermon I heard by the grand Fleming Rutledge in one of the wealthier Episcopalian congregations in Birmingham during the Bush 41 administration. It was published in a collection by Will Willimon in the Best of the Duke Chapel as she also preached it there.

     She says in France as Hitler infiltrated the country neighbor turned on neighbor and many switched sides weekly, much like DeKalb County Alabama after the Battle of Chicamauga during the Civil War where Rebecca Brindley Clayton lost a Great Grandfather and three of his brothers and the Home Guard came into play at the expense of a distant relative among others up on Lookout Mountain. See previous blog.

      So we are in a similar moment in Alabama now in Trump era buttressed by Scott Beason of FBC Gardendale, Alabama and Rick Burgess on the radio.

   FBC Gardendale's recent pastor was Steve Gaines who just stepped down as the President of the Southern Baptist Conventions after two raucous annual gatherings. Some say there is a Sea Change with this NC preacher JD Grear. When people at FBC Gardendale and FBC Spartanburg SC stop voting in lockstep with Beason and Trey Gowdy, maybe I will believe them.

     Marie Griffith of Chattanooga Tn gets it right, the political tsunami effect of the Fundamentalist takeover.

       But let's get local, not to provoke anybody unnecessarily, but Harpers Magazine says this is a serious moment in Bama. I think they are on to something as I saw it coming in 2006 when I got voted out of the local Baptist church, and before that.

       In October 2012, the 9th to be exact, Long time Regional Judge David Rains was the guest of honor at a reception as his longtime bench was being challenged by a good natured fundamentalist, but a fundamentalist nevertheless Jo Nathan Bell. I talked to Judge Bell a couple weeks ago in a fast food restaurant and before I knew it was in a snake pit of Baptist preachers who called me a liberal and said I didn't believe the Bible. Regrettable incident but I told them they didn't understand it, that the politics of their view of abortion was chocked full of Mendacity--not a Christian virtue whether you read the KJV or whatever-- and my sister taught a better Sunday School class than their wives did, a more literate and informed "Christian " world view than their experience and reading equipped them for, not to mention Rick Burgess.

    Cause when their Sunday School lesson has them voting for Trump who called a Heisman Trophy winner Derrick  Henry a son of a bitch, and they utter Roll Tide every other breath, something is arry; not to mention they didn't understand their new Republican School Supe Jason Barnett very well.

         Well back to the meet and greet for Rains 6 years ago. Official hosts where advertised as former School Supe Sammy Clanton and his wife, Democratic power Broker in NE Bama John Baker and Wife, The Myers brothers Jackie and Donnie and their Wives, Jeff Chandler and wife Claire and Jeff Patton and wife Terah. Also Clyde Killian and wife Sandra (parents in law of a fundamentalist Baptist preacher in Nearby Cedar Bluff who shares a birthday with me and near Kin to Mary Katherine Reed, chair of the UB ama home ec department in the 60s, a HS Classmate of my Mother, Reed whose Mother was a Killian) and Johnny Mack Edwards and wife. JMack a credit to the community who taught History for a long time at the high school as the legend goes states rights the primary cause of the Civil War.

    Also present were Donzella Bobo longtime chair of the Plainview HS Home Ec Dept in Rainsville, Alabama whose product Jeremy Pruett is now head coach of the U Tenn Vols; Donzella a force in the local Baptist church and her husband J. R.; and Teresa Solomon Bowen and husband, he like Jeff Chandler also on the City Council.

   And a fellow name David Ryan, long time deacon and former City Council member whose name was brought to the attention of Sojourner's magazine editor at a packed house at Furman University the winter of 2006 after a three alarm drill in Downtown Collinsville.

   Jeff Bailey says it was three alarms. I was just trying to make it to the water board.

      And in this group supporting a Democrat just six years ago in a county that went 80 percent Trump in 16, Judge Rains now on the board of the Alabama Humanities Foundation well something is in flux for sure. Also in that group was another City Councilman married to the Coker Sisters the other brother in law who ran for School Supe. The Coker Sisters are part of the wealthiest Methodist and influential families in town in a family owned Nursing home that hires a lot of Hispanics.

      So point being you can imagine how it had a lot in common with what Abraham Lincoln was trying to figure out in Illinois in 1856 

    Lincoln facing party realignment in 1854. Each group asserted itself as the core of a new political coalition. Some prohibitionists were nativists, some nativists were antislavery, and many abolitionists were prohibitionists. Some Whigs were all or none of the above, just as some Democrats. German immigrants, the largest growing  swing group in Illinois, were overwhelmingly anti slavery and diassfected with the Democrats, but feared the nativists and hated the prohibitionists. Even as old partisan lines dissolved, old partisan rancor heightened. Old Dems mistrusted old  Whigs while third party Free Soilers still mistrusted men from both of the regular parties, Within the Abolitionist ranks, the Free Dems acted  as an internal body hostile to pro Nebraska Dems but also to anti slavery Whigs. Anti-Douglas Dems despised Pro- Douglas Democrats while still loathing Whigs. Necessity would seem to have brought all those opposed to Douglas together, but the talk of fusion made them warily circle each other with mutual suspicion. 

    That Quote from Sidney Blumenthal second in his quartet on Lincoln, Wrestling with his Angels. Great Reading. We may talk about Douglas and Manifest Destiny and the Illinois Central this fall but right now lets focus on NE Bama political dispositions.

   The kicker was in that election these 8 couples and Ryan had a strong inclination to stay status quo with an honorable democrat. These school teachers and politicians in a town of 1700--recent HS graduating classes have averaged in low 70s--were okay with a bluedog democrat. But the local preacher's fourth son who shoulda known better given his brothers were Duke and UVA grads was an operative for Jonathan Bell and that year's wonder pol state Senate Candidate Phil Williams, an ordained Baptist minister himself--big on abortion light on immigration justice in a sliced and diced gerrymandered state district--and the fourth preacher's son helped unseat the clear choice of his Daddy's congregation where my Momma was baptized in 1936.

   And at the time Jason Barnett was still toward the tail end of his 16 years as a teacher and assistant principal at Collinsville school. Two years ago he was elected as a Republican to be School Supe for Dekalb County Schools. He is on record saying giving his 16 years experience in Collinsville, he is open to a conversation that would give the kind of undocumented Hispanics he has come to know citizenship upon graduation from HS after six years discipline and scholarship in the school system in communities where they have been well vetted!

    So about five miles east of us now Mallory Kagan is vying to unseat 6 term or more US Congressman Mike Rogers who wants to get us out of the United Nations. And Bear Bryant's standout Danny Ford first cousin Craig Ford is running to be my next state Senator.
 Most know Danny became head coach of Clemson and won it all in 81 with Gaffney's Tim Childers, nephew of Libby Mitchell, Furman grad and former LT gov of Maine. I think she may read this now that her name is in it. Steven Wash Too!!!!!
   So read the Harper's Piece on Bama . Read Jon Meacham who was raised on Missionary Ridge in Chattanooga about fifty miles NW of here. Read Meacham's Soul of America and Lets stay in touch now through the midterms. I'm just getting started long as I'm welcome at Don Chico's on Thursday nights

Friday, June 22, 2018

Will and Blanche, Hope for Alabama

  A couple days I called a couple members of Congress DC office and talked to two promising interns with ties to Bama, one to South Carolina. Blanche, an honors student, rising senior at U bama knew who Judge Frank Johnson was. That puts her in the top 7 percentile. Not many know and it's a shame. I think she was from Sullivan's Island SC. She may try to find my first cousin's friend from Alaska rising jr in the honors program. She took notes. Like Will I think she is gonna read Joe Crespino on Atticus.

   Ya'll should join them and listen to the interview on Two Way Street.

    Will was a charm a grad of Indian Springs prep in Bham and Sewanee, an English major. He's read Harvard Lit Critic James Wood and said he is a relatively sober Episcopalian. He didn't know Daniel Alarcon of Peru and Indian Springs, but good kid with good sense of humor.

    I think he gonna find a copy of Wood's The Fun Stuff and look up the essay on Alexander Hemon and his thought s on the location of the soul of a man.

   Two good kids. I think they could resolve our current immigration malaise if we could just get the Bama delegation to sign on their law.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Southern Baptists Rotten Theology from Texas Regulars through the Bush era to Trump

      I can't do the remedial reading for you but this blog will make the most sense if you are up to speed on Wuthnow's Rough Country, Molly Worthen's Apostles of Reason, Marie Griffith's Moral Combat, have a clue who George W. Truett was and can distinguish him from WA Criswell and Franklin Graham and understand what Bill Moyers was gettin at in his 1987 PBS documentary on how Paul Pressler of the TExas Regulars and Exxon Oil was trying to sabotage the Southern Baptist Convention for the Far Right.

   For anybody paying attention, Harold Bloom got it right in the American Religion in 93. Rough quote: The Tragedy in the Southern Baptist Convention is the result of pure political machinations masquerading as religious conviction. JD Grear is only 45 but he ought to own where he comes from now that he is back to 79 when SBC was on the verge of a great Missions Initiative. But Adrian Rogers and Pressler had some scores to settle with Jimmy Carter and James Dunn and LBJ

   Oh and google the religion dispatches piece on Rotten Theology. You can do that soon as you read this blog.

     The national press in the hysteria over JD Grear's pronouncement the SBC does Missions, Not political platforms misses a lot. The last 40 years of Baptist history has seen a religious group Marshall Frady said in the 60s was groping toward an accomodation with modernity and the Civil Rights Movement was jacklegged back into Jesse Helms camp and the playground of leftovers from the John Birch Society and White Citizens County. Read my course readings above. Ellen Rosenberg wrote me as much in a letter you can find in Baptist history at the forum site Baptist life dot com.
      Somebody has to do something with the stained glass windows of Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler at SWBTS. Will Grear let them stand. This happens as Dallas, hometown of Criswell and Jeffress. City council is trying to figure out what to do with the Stonewall Jackson and Jeff Davis Monutments there. Maybe they could move Criswell, Pressler and Patterson and get the sunlight right  and have a helluva a museum. Wuthnow has great chapter in Rough Country Judge Lynch to Jim Crow. Pressler and Patterson Stained glass light would be proper ambience for the arts and history conundrums of Dealy Plaza etc.
      Bill Friday told Cecil Sherman the most significant event in NC the decade of the 80s was the fundamentalist takeover of the Seminary at Wake Forest. My dad was a classmate there in the 50s with Randall Lolley. Friday told Sherman Jesse Helms and Pressler and the right wingers driving the SBC to the Far Right--Adrian Rogers political guru Ed McAteer, the Bircher Albert Lee Smith of Birmingham and his Eagle Forum Wife Eunie--they had some grievances to settle with Martin Luther King and his then SBC friends Carlyle Marney, Will Campbell, LD Johnson, Molly Marshall, James Dunn , Martin England and others.

     Read Molly Worthen Carefully.

     More later to cut to the chase for JD Grear. Congrats on leaning forward on immigration but the NRA will be the test case. As Atwater envisioned and Wuthnow reports, Racebaiting as a political strategy evolved into the mendacity of abortion politics, to the FLAG, Prayer in schools and now Kaerpernick and the NRA.

    Grear if he is for read must set up some truth and reconciliation committee in our subculture. And historically Baptist efforts in higher education driven from the fold in the 90s should every three years offer courses in all the reverberations of this rotten theology that has whipsawwed and bamboozled my people these last 40 years.

    It aint all reconciled with one forward looking resolution on immigration and mild flick on the wrist of Donald Trump

   And here is an update June 22, when some friends come back from Italy and others leave South Georgia for Bar Harbor

   I am hoping this all gets to be fodder for an  hour long conversation on NPR One A program. Jonathan Merritt had a piece in the Atlantic but Alan Bean has a better blog that got picked up by Baptist Global News 

Copy and paste the url.

   To Bean I would add Tom Edsall's report I think June 6, 1986 in the Wash Post after the Atlanta SBC in a headline New Right Now Controls Huge SBC, all the fundy SBC presidents to that date were founding members of Tim Lahaye's American Coalition for Traditional Values for which Joe Rodgers a former finance chair of the GOP raised a hundred thousand dollars.

   Also see Ellen Rosenberg's letter to me in the History section of Baptist life dot com forums.

  Garry Wills framed the bigger picture in reviews of EJ Dionne and Joe Scarborough's analysis of the Republican party in the NEw York Review of books, nybooks dot com.

  Bean is on to it saying outright it was never about scripture but resentment of Brown V Board and the role of women in church. My references spell that out.

   And Edsall's suggestion a Carter Windfall profits tax helped focus Pressler's Exxon world with the Leftover Bircher and marginal of the White citizens council in his inner circle of Jesse Helms, Ed mcAteer and Bham and Eagle Forum's Albert Lee Smith

  Footnote. Ellen Rosenberg letter of 88, an excerpt. She wrote the seminal work that year SBaps, a Subculture in Transition

   Quoting her:  I really enjoyed talking to you, and receiving that wealth of material and food for thought. My back issues of SBC Today finally arrived and I feel much more up to date.

What I think now is this: The SBC is being mobilized to serve as the base for a New Right movement. Falwell's throwaway comment in Salt Lake to look to James Dobson for leadership after the demise of the Moral Majority was a red herring. When the SBC has been disciplined and intimidated and the necessary personnel substitutions have been made, they will move. All the other stuff is incidental. Each successive outrage is outrageous but not worth getting bothered about (except, of course for the individuals involved)--it is the pattern that is important. What I see going now is an erosion of board-staff boundaries, this constant interference by trustees in personnel and program responsibilities.

What interests me now is why the moderates took so long to see what was happening. I found a piece by Glenn Hinson in Rev-Exp, Spring 1982. p 229, they...."have linked arms with the American political right and thus articulate positions more social and political than theologgical in nature." He saw what was happening...was anybody listening? Was he too gentle, too reluctant to be more explicit? Too Afraid?



Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Rough transcript of my serendipitous call to Finebaum show June 4

  Ryan McGhee the baseball writer who lived in Travelers Rest SC in late 80s when his Dad worked for Furman was guest host. I was first caller about ten minutes in and the conversation just took off. We seem to have better rapport than Finebaum and me on most occasions, not counting my glorious conversation with Greg McElroy, one Rhodes scholar to another, in October 2012.

    Ryan: First caller today from Gaffney South Carolina, home of the peach.

    Fox: Got a lot on my mind today and would love to talk about the Furman legends at fluor Field but you are the SEC network so I guess will start with the Bear. Well before that what you think of this Luke Chapman kid from Easley with the Gamecocks in the playoffs. I was at a wedding over the weekend and playin one ups stories and threw my pick up game with Kevin Garnett out there when he was a 9th grader on a playground in Mauldin SC. Fellow from Arkansas a kidney doctor immediately went to his wife and her story of her 103 year old grandmother who witnessed Johnny Cash and Bear Bryant tossing a football just outside Fordyce Arkansas way back there in the 20s 1920s when both were still boys. Same town Mick Jagger of the Stones got arrested in the 60s.

    Ryan:  Chapman is the real deal. Having a good playoff. Gonna keep following him...... Lot happens in small towns. You had a strong story with Kay Gee, but Bear and Johnny Cash hard to beat. So how's Gaffney.

   Fox: I don't live there now but that's where I'm from. Guess how many football games they lost from fall of 1960 through Billy Ray Rice senior year, fall of 67.

   Ryan: I don't know Seven, I just know anytime even in the 80s they came in or near Greenville County they kicked hiney.

  Fox, Answer is three, those textile mill white boys and cornbread boys from Grassy Pond, Goucher and Corinth were serious under the direction of Bob Prevatte and Wayne Whiteside.

    Ryan: Tell me a little something about the Furman legends at Fluor Field.

   Fox: The Golf women, Dottie Pepper, Betsy King and Beth Daniel are there with Stanford Jennings, Sam Wyche who drew up the play for the forty niners where Montanta threw the Superbowl touchdown to Dwight Clark, and Clint Dempsey and tennis legend Coach Paul Scarpa.

   Ryan: I remember Scarpa's wife was one of the Snake's Girlfriends.

  Fox: if you got time for the short version as I heard it.

  Ryan :   Pushing it now but maybe 45 seconds at most

    Fox. I was at a Furman tennis match about ten years ago and as I was about to leave spoke to Mrs. Scarpa in the stands and mentioned some mutual friends, cousin connection of Greenville folks to peeps in Bama.

   She said, oh your from Alabama. Do you follow the Tide.

  I said I'm not crazy about them but aware they have a football team.

   She says I was one of Kenny Stabler's ole girlfriends.

  I said Mrs. Scarpa your still an attractive woman but as good lookin as you had to be 45 years ago anybody that good lookin within 40 miles of Tuscaloosa was one of Stabler's ole girl friends.

   She said I was one of the real ones. I road all over south Alabama in that 66 Mustang.

   (Ryan like the story) and then volunteered after I hung up. Yeah Gaffney got to do something about that peach on 85. Its as if they are mooning every body passing through, Ought to turn it around or at least do something with the leaf to cover  some hiney.....We'll be right back.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Calloustown; "Ma'm We're in South Carolina. Who Knows their Standards".

       My title quote is from a scout for Varina Davis, Jeff's wife in the new grand historic nonfiction Varina by Charles Frazier, his first since Cold Mountain.            

  Like myself George Singleton is a graduate of Furman University, raised Baptist though I held out longer than he did, and medium sized town South Carolina. I'm from Gaffney, he's from Greenwood. We missed each other by a year at Furman but both of us knew Dan Norfleet of Pascagoula Mississippi and some of his many girlfriends.

      I first read Singleton, in fact got ecstatic with the title of his first collection of short stories Half Mammals of Dixie. When I heard the title I was thinkin here is a fellow from Upstate SC who is gonna get my experience in Gaffney, gonna nail it sight unseen.

   And if fact he does. Something of a thinking man's Lewis Grizzard  on the scale between Lewis and Roy Blount edging to Blount. He did go to Furman, like I said.

    In Half Mammals there is a story Duke Power about a fellow over near Dacusville whose's cousins try to sabotage satellite tv and get all their tv for free cause they have already mastered the art of climbing big Duke towers and getting free electricity.

    When you can get free electricity in Pickens County, TV is a piece of cake.

   Singleton perfects all this in one of his latest efforts, Calloustown. Calloustown could be Gaffney, Union, Pomaria, Eastover, you pick it, Low Country or UpCountry in South Carolina.

    He metastasizes all my favorite stories from Gaffney all the boys who beat the poop out of the entire state from 60 --67, even one on a freakish track star homeschooled who gets the attention of the Oregon Ducks. What I'm saying is you could easily sub in Wayne Whiteside, Whiteford Smith, Moto, Waterhead, Big Daddy Lipscomb, you nickname em for any of these stories.

   On my blog I may eventually with George As muse tell some of them but you don't have time nor the Chronicle Space. Faulkner calls it Kill All your Darlings. Look it up.

     But I will tell the story from the Furman pastors school a few years ago by a fellow from Pomaria once married to a Miss Delaware. He said one summer he worked with these fellows Nubby and Olin. Their deal before security cameras  at Kmart was they would pick out a cooler, load it up, put it back on the shelf, go in the next day in a walker and get a stockboy to get the cooler for them and take it through check out for the price of a cooler. They never touched the merchandise on day of purchase.

   They also thought fornication was taking a dump but they had their shopping down pat.

    Point is we know Singleton isn't makin this stuff up even though he's got himself guggenheimed as a fiction writer.

        Then there is Miss South Carolina

      And 2013 Miss South Carolina, Brooke Mosteller  a Furman grad, daughter of an ordained Baptist minister herself,  Rev Mosteller who married the Campsen Beauty from the lowstate says about trailer parks on national TV to get the pageant going, this is how we roll in SC. You can google it up on Utube.  Utube Says Brooke got herself in hot water.

   Her Mother was often on the Phil  Maher show during the 90s to stand up for traditional values the SC Baptist way of life.

   George in Calloustown has a refrain about how he  finds most Christians disconcerting and Baptists in particular. Still he teaches em best he can in abundance these days at the Methodist Wofford in Spartanburg home of Trey Gowdy, where Billy Graham was a member of the local Baptist church till he passed earlier this year.

     Here is how Singleton  fomented himself according to a profile a few years ago in a Proud Furman Magazine.   

iOne of my professors,
Gil Allen, said that I ‘had
the disease.’ And I did.”
Despite all of the manuscripts
that were tossed in
the trash, Singleton says the
efforts were valuable for the
“minor characters I would take
from one story—or one sentence,
or one scene—and start
over and over again until I had
something better.”
Such laborious salvaging has
added up to six collections of
short stories, two novels, and
an instructional book on  on fiction

      Here is an excerpt from his story Unraveling

7th grade history.  I remembered something about slavery and a nuclear bombthat accidentally fell through the bom door hatch of a B-47 above Mars Bluff on March 11, 1958- and although the uranium and plutonium core wasn't attached--it created a mushroom clud deeper than most of the freshwater   lakes in the area. I remembered that Senator Strom Thurmond ran for President as a Dixiecrat and opposed desegregation, thugh he fathered a bi-racial daughter. I remembered that a man named Senator Brooks beat up Senator Charles Sumner with a cane back before the Civil War. There was some kind of mention of a slew of astronomical events
 predating the end of the Pleistocene epoch.hitting right around Calloustown, things called Carolina Bays, that because of the holes in the ground, oddly looked similar to the holes hitting Mars Bluff. The teacher made a big point to say something bi-daily about a man named Ruple went off to embalming college, got a job in one of the more prone to die early cities and left her in Calloustown alone.

    You can google his short story Columbus Day about Spartanburg's Westgate Mall in the Oxford American Magazine. Hibbett's sporting goods will never be the same for you.

  Romans 8:26 on the Holy Spirit and  inutterable Groans  when words fail.. This closing I'm gonna float in the spirit of Flannery OConnor who knew Southern Freaks, and offscouring long time before George and his grit lit buddies. I mentioned his refrain about Christians in general and Baptists in particular.

    See my blog on my question to Billy Bob Thornton in Florence Alabama in 2007. It is in that frame of mind. Singleton is a secular southern writer so I'm not preaching just thinking. When I heard him read some of his story What Could of Been a few months ago at a Writer's conference in NE Bama about five miles from The Rock Church in Section, one of the most famous snake Handlin churches in the network, my first thought was this sounds a  lot like Annie Dillard's Ticket for a Prayer Wheel. It is a profane allegory of sorts to the Book of Revelations on Last Things. For all his mischief and genius, in his inutterable groans about Onanism and UFOs, freak 200 meter dashers and the History of the State of South Carolina I think Singleton has a big heart and the greatest of affection for all of us in the Cracker Carolina version of humanity roughly between 46 and 2014.

     Dum Spiro, Spero !!


Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Lincoln, Jeff Davis Wife and the Many Mansions

      About ten days ago I got a report from a friend in Bama who had attended the inaugural celebration of the lynching museum in Montgomery. It was complete with a firsthand report he had with Civil Rights Saint John Lewis and a mutual celebration of the glorious life of their and Martin Luther King's great friend Will D. Campbell.

    All this on the same day I began reading Charles Frazier of Cold Mtn fame new novel Varina, about the wife of Jeff Davis. And I found and reread a profile in the Furman magazine of Vernon Burton with whom I hope to have lunch later this fall.

   Excerpts from all this to follow. For a few days I was dreaming of Lincoln and walking around in a daze, such a state I wouldn't been surprised if they showed up on the front porch with my Grandfather Jordan, born 1881, maybe with Judge Frank Johnson for a chat.

    It was like the Gospel says as close as it gets for me, in this world but not of it. Righteous Insights.

     Here is page 212 of Varina, Quoting Frazier as Varina:

     They rode back to the camp in silence and V thought about how the landscape would never be the same after war, even if the blasted battlegrounds healed with new growth and burned farms were either rebuilt or allowed to rot into the dirt. The old land had all become overlain with new maps of failures and sins, troop movements, battles and skirmishes, places of victory and defeat, losses and despair. Slave quarters, whipping posts,and slave market platforms. Routes of attack and retreat, Monumental cemeteries of white crosses stretching in rows to the horizon, and also lonesome mountain burials with one name knife cut into a pine board, weathering blank in ten years and rotted into the ground in twenty. The ground itself defaced and haunted with countless places where blood--all red wherever it sprang from--would keep seeping up for generations to come. That place out in the pinecombs would haunt those girls and keep haunting. The last one, the youngest--at a hundred years old, tiny and translucent--might tell the story of the marauding army and the killings and the torchlight burials to a little girl in 1950 who would carry it with her into the 21st century.

     Google the review in the Washington Post. Here is Jimmie Limber on page 293 on the beliefs of Jeff Davis:

       He did as most politicians do except more so; corrupt our language and symbols of freedom, pervert our heroes. Because, like so many of them he held no beloved idea or philosophy as tightly as his money purse. Take a king or a president or anybody. Put a heavy sack of gold in one hand and a feather light declaration about freedom in the other. And then an outlaw sticks a pistol in his face and says give me one of the other. Every time --ten out of then--he'll hug the sack and throw away the ideals. like the foundation under a building. And that's how freedom and chains and a whipping post can live alongside each other comfortably.

    Come back to this in a few days for a quotation from the Furman magazine about Furman's great Vernon Burton and his age of Lincoln.

   May 11, 2018. Yesterday I presented a copy of Edwin C Bridges history of the state of Alabama to Martha Barksdale and the Collinsville History Museum. I wrote on site a sterling presentation note in the book to mark the event. Like Marshall Frady and the 8 folks named on the Furman Standard Marquee signpost at Fluor Field in Greenville, SC, Bridges and myself are Furman grads.

   The James Payton family was part of the crowd source funding that made the book possible for Martha and the museum. On the way out I got a copy of the Fall 2008 Gen of the Valley, the quarterly newsletter of the local Historical Association, Martha Barksdale editor and James Payton, valedictorian of his 1990 Ft Payne HS class, publisher.

    It was a most fascinating edition as it named folks from the Collinsville area who fought in the Civil War, most with the Confederates. Rebecca Clayton who is quite proud of her Brindley heritage lost four great great uncles in the War, about wiped out the family of her Grandfather Vergil Brindley. His son Stanley had two sister Ollie and Mabel who never married. Miss Ollie was a key participant in the documentary Blessing of Liberty by Oscar nominated director Brett Morgen in 92. She was in her late 80s then and their was a grandfather clock in the scene ticking away. Morgen told me it was one of his favorite scenes.

   The 08 issue lists several descendants of the soldiers mentioned by inadvertently leaves out my great grandfather John Sanders Jordan who skirmished on the Union side in 1894 or so up around Stevenson, Alabama near the Tennessee line above Scottsboro with the Alabama Vidette Company. And though it listed Momma's first cousin Luther Reed it failed to mention his Union Grandfather on his Mother's side but did get his Rebel bona fides in.

   Martha and I are gonna have to talk about that.

    I am hoping maybe with the auspices of the Alabama Humanities Foundation to bring local board Member Judge Rains to the Cricket Theatre in Collinsville and maybe Vandy Doc and Furman grad Ainsley Quiros of U North Alabama to have a chat. Donzella Bobo, Rebecca Clayton and many others have a lot to learn from her about the lessons and honest history of the Civil War. Bridges history can help a lot.

   What follows are the concluding paragraphs of a Furman mag 2008  Alum Profile of Vernon Burton a 1969 Furman grad. I am proud to be his facebook friend.

     Burton is a Pulitzer nominee for his book Many Mansions about his home in Edgefield SC. These paragraphs are about his Civil War History Age of Lincoln.

     Unique among Civil War histories the book incorporates religion in the Civil War narrative emphasizing the spiritual ordeal of Americans as they sought to regenerate the national promise. Burton emphasizes what could have been possible.....and provides a clear eyed analysis of those who resisted or sought to reverse such efforts. No region, class party or section escapes his critical gaze,  and he finds his heroes in places both predictable and unpredictable.

    That Burton shows the flaws and foibles of the most significant characters while dignifying and humanizing the more unregenerate souls only adds to the richness of the account. His account of how some found transcendence while others dwelt in bitter vengeance makes the Age of Lincoln truly innovative to Civil War era scholarship