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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, March 20, 2015

Laura Bush is coming to Samford

  She will speak next week as part of the Tom and Myra Corts lecture series.

   All indications are former President Corts, who once thought I planted an artcile in the Wal St. Journal about the Institution, was an honorable Republican in the tradition of Judge Frank Jo=hnson, though Corts was a native of Indiana with strong days in North Carolina.

    New President Westmoreland is a little more suspicious than Corts, with his seeming inability to distinguish himself from the aw shucks politics of Mike Huckabee, but has some god points. Word is is only child, daughter and recent presdient of the stundet body is a true believer, of the tea party stripe.

   I like George W and Laura though W should never have been presdient. The point is as a matter of integrity the Samford Comunity should bone up on Robert Wuthnow's Rough Country, particularly the Oc 9 Tom Powers review in Christianity today had a review online, but CT doesn't cut it. The book and the Powers review say the Bushes, with their history with Judge Presler and TExas Right wing politics; and in South Carolina, Harry Dent and Lee Atwater, have a lot of explaining to do.

   This could be a teachable moment for Samford Community with waves for the state of Alabama.

   Proud of Bush 41 for standing up to the Birchers in Harris County Texas in 1966, but his political history since then, bringing Atwater on board in 88-see Atwater's "nigger memo" in Rough Country--and the family's carousing with Richard Land, Pressler and Karl Rove is not the legacy of Tom Corts.

   I hope the Samford Community will make the distinction next week when Laura comes to town.

   BTW, Laura , like your reading initiative. Recommend to you Marsh's bio of Bonhoeffer, Tupelo Hassman's GirlChild, and the short stories of my friend Ron Rash.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Furman new Prez, Selma and Trey Gowdy

       I was in Selma last Saturday to see President Obama and Bush and honor some Furman folks as I explain in a blog below. On Monday I read online the New Yorker piece by George Packer on the significance of it all. Great piece as I texted a Furman friend who is a former book page editor for the Charlotte Observer.
      Read the piece. To cut to the chase it says because of the likes of Trey Gowdy and his tea party republicans, particularly of the fundamentalist stripe, the Voting Rights act of 65 could not be passed in today's Congress.
      Two recent books and their reviews of the last two years add weight to Packer's conviction. Joe Crespino's Strom Thurmond's America and Princeton's Robert Wuthnow's Rough Country drive that point home. More specifically for the Furman conversation this coming Monday afternoon of March 16 on Furman and the Community, is the Thomas Powers review in the print issue of Octboer 9, 2014
      It is ironic and coincidental New Furman President Davis was at Baylor, like Furman a historically Baptist affiliated institution of higher education about the same time as Trey Gowdy and Ron Paul. Powers makes the point Texas Baptist fundamentalist have shaped the Tea Party that now has almost grinded goodwill attempts for a more perfect union to a halt. While I have strong reservations about aspects of the recent conflagration in Ferguson, the Lee Atwater memo in Rough Country doesnt look good for the political inflections of Trey Gowdy's politics. Like the SAE chapter at Oklahoma, Gowdy and his Tea Party Baptists James Lankford of Oklahoma and their Methodist brethren Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Bama House Speaker Mike Hubbard have some explaining to do.
   Now the conversation is not so much about race, but as Atwater's memo points out and a recent Garry Wills piece in New Yorker on the Tea Party wing of the GOP accentuates, the race politics of the 60's have morphed, refined and been perfected in the wedge issue politics of abortion, church state matters--see the template in the Baptist struggle of the 80s and 90s--and the daily Roger Ailes miasma on Fon Fox News. Christine Stansell  had a great piece focussing on the politics of abortion in New Republic a few years ago, saying they were a template for other isues in a strategy chocked ful of "mendacity". Mendacity, not a Furman value institutionally codified when I was there in the early 70s.
   Back to Upstate S.C. The specific case Wuthnow makes for Texas and his reviewer Powers drives home is affirmed generally in Crespino's look at the politics of Upstate S.C. Another good source in the conversation is Wahalla native Mark Powell, now Stetson English proff and his political thriller Dark Corner.
     Jeff Rogers grand lecture in the Furman collection What REaly Matters outlines the best of the Baptist tradition. For me it is no coincidence Gordon Blackwell, the son of a Baptist minister politics most resembled that of Furman's great gift to the nation Richard Riley. Blackwell endorsed Max Heller for Congress over Lee Atwater's Carroll Campbell. Now may be the time for the Furman community to encourage the likes of Furman trustee Baxter Wynn to define a different Baptist Republican vision for the Country in an L.D. Johnson contradistinction to the pettifogged vision of FBC Spartanburg's Gowdy.
      While I was at Furman, Harry Dent's daughter was there. Cyndi Campsen and her husband were Freshmen my senior year and their daughter, a Furman grad is a recent Miss South Carolina. Le Atwater's Daughter Salley is recent grad and Mike Hubbard's son is a Freshman at Furman now. So my take is not the only one to be part of the conversation.
     And the Furman Chapel is named for generous benefactor to the University, Charles E. Daniel, Richard Nixon's best friend in the Upstate.
     But my point is there is no way I can see Trey Gowdy as the incarnation of Furman values in the public square from the teaching of L.D. Johnson, the legacy of Gordon Blackwell and Max Heller, the journalism of Marshall Frady or the green sustainability of David Shi; even my Harvard grad friend of the summer of 1970 in Gaffney, Roger Miliken Jr who served a term as President of the Nature Conservancy.
     Furman in conversation with Wofford and Converse can turn up a moderate Republican, a blue dog democrat of some sort to nudge the country back on course and displace Trey Gowdy's lesser vision and politic.
    Furman does great things in the public square. The Heller Service Corp and the network with Triune Mercy Center are but two initiatives that have gotten national attention. But it needs national representatives that better represent those initiatives over the worst witness of Lee Atwater as revealed in Rough Country, or Mike Hubbard in a cover story last Summer in New Republic about the New Racism.
     I'm convinced the stakes are huge. Last year Charles Marsh, a Baptist minister's son with rots in Laurel Mississippi had a Knopf published biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Marsh now teaches at UVA. On page 341 of that book, Bonhoeffer, one of the three Christian martyrs busted in Westminster Abbey--MLKing and Oscar Romero the other two--talks about the " politics of stupidity."  Find that two page passage and read for yourself for full effect. A similar mindset now has taken hold of Upstate S.C. and placed the likes of Trey Gowdy in Gongress.
      Furman and the challenge of liberal arts education in Upstate S.C. is Enormous.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

In Selma for the 50th Celebration

   I was in Selma Saturday to see President Obama and Bush and Laura for the 50th anniversary. Got there about 11:30 and then was told the President wouldn't be speaking till about 3pm Eastern time that afternoon.
    Crowd estimates are there were between 60 and hundred thousand people there. Judging from what I saw for ten city blocks covered with parked cars and busses parked three miles away I'm guessing upwards of 100 thou on Sunday at a minimum; exponentially more than when I was there in 2012 for the Sunday march across the Bridge, and that was a big Crowd with Ethel Kennedy, Dick Gregory and the daughter of Viola Liuzzo present.
    Truth is I never saw President Obama though was only a block and half away on Water Street. Did make it down to the park to see the Bridge about 300 yards away. If my party had stayed another 30 minutes we coulda seen the President's group walk across; but we didn't know at the time that was the plan.

   Talked to a lot of people on the corner of Alabama Street and Water or some street near the Bridge. Had great conversation with a Ga Tech football player from the early 80s that was on team with Robert Lavette and the team that Bill Curry coached in one of the great eras of Tech football. Had a chat with fellow from Conyers Georgia now at Savannah St; history major. I recommended some books to him.  Talked to Civil Rights pilgrimage groups from Boston, Wake Forest and SMU and a beautiful 30 something German proff from Tuscaloosa who was there with some family friends from Germany.

   Talked to a fifth grader from Wares Elementary in Montgomery there with her mother and other family. Her school fundraiser tee said: "Bloody Sunday helped Bridge the Gap for me."

    I called her congresswoman Marsha Roby 's DC Staff Monday and told them to look this girl up. She's headed in the right direction.

   I've seen the movie Selma a few times and done my reading over the years from Marshall Frady to Taylor Branch, to David Garrow, Charles Marsh and Paul Harvey's Moses Jesus and the Trickster.

   I was thinking of my bi-racial committee in Gaffney in 71 and those first three years of integration there over the weekend and the effect it had on my Mother and father and their days at Bethany Baptist Church.

   Also was proud to be there for Furman connected people Martin England, TC Smith, Jim Pitts and L. D. Johnson. England AND  Smith were in Selma in 65; and I think England is in a pic with me in the Furman annual of 72.

   So was big weekend and big event. May say more later.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Thornton, Jerry Vines and Exiled Generations

      My friend William Thornton has taken my measure in a post at faith and practice over my 8 page effort in the anthology Exiled Generations published by U Tenn Press.
   I was on the road to have lunch with Thornton in May of 2006 when I had car trouble and got towed to Iva South Carolina. We didn't have lunch but if he can make it to Lesburg in April we may have a get together then and a discussion of the Kell editted book he's so casually dismissed at
      Thornton was at Mid America Seminary in Memphis when the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC began and a disciple of Adrian Rogers. He championed Rogers and that whole cabal of Birch inflected fundies in his all star lineup blog of 2010 whcih should be an easy google for his SBC plodder blog.
   I heard over the weekend Thornton had read my piece in Ex Gens and saw his somments a few hours ago. This morning I was reading David Montoya's piece in the book of 15 some odd years ago, Leaving the Fold. Montoya talks about his dealing with some of Thornton's heroes of the faith in Arkansas in the late 1980s. How Adrain Rogers was brought in to lean on a pastor in Arkansas who was gona buck the fundy system, how Ronnie Floyd was Paul Pressler's hand picked preacher to lead the funy takeover of the Arkansas Baptist convention, how Jerry Vines who in 87  talked to Rocky Purvis off campus at SEBTS as part of the Peace Committee charade that led to the ouster of Randall Lolley; Vines called in to be a go between between Gray Allison of Mid America where my friend Thornton was a student to keep Gray "pure" if they wanted to run him for something.
     Montoya talks of a Bob Foster who was key businessman in the movement, who went on to be part of a racist and anti semite founation in Arkansas. Jerry Vines West Rome Church in the 60 is Rome Ga was infested with Birchers. Paul pressler's inside folks were the likes of Jesse Helms and his network, McAteer, and Bama's Alabert Lee Smith, all with teis to the far right that called Martin Luther King a Communist and had their origins in the Texas Regulars of the 48 US senate Capaign in Texas--see New Republic review of 1990 on Caro's bio of LBJ.
    So that is where Thornton is coming from. Let's be clear.
     I hope he reads Apostles of Reason and Wuthnow's Rough Country now that he's taken a chew on my essay.
      And maybe he will take the bait and watch the movie The White Ribbon. When he does. we can talk about Bonhoeffer, and the reason I recommended such in my essay, so that maybe he could grow a little in the faith.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

William Calhoun and a Peavey

  My 2nd great nephew was born Feb 21, William Calhoun Chastain, Lil Mac's brother. They're gonna call him Cal, I'm gonna call him him Billy Cee, avuncular discretion.
   I knew he was about to arrive but I thought it would be a few more days. Weather was bad in Bama and Trade Day was called off. I was sitting home alone and looking at pictures of Momma and other members of the family, and had picked up one of her books from 46 when I got the text Little Billy Cee was here.
    So this blog is for him. I hope he appreciates it some day, even though it will be embarrassingly corny till he's about 30 and I'm long gone.
    There is a story about Papa WD Fox, Uncle Fremont and Cousin Terry Fox about a Peavey, but this one came from Momma's book a Farmer Takes a Wife. I'm just doing the paragraph on the Peavey now, but may do the rest in good time and mayube Martha Barksdale will put it in the Turkey Trot handbook this year. I think Thomas will like it too.

  From page 145; Finally, take Mr. Peavey. He invented a device for rolling logs the use of which spread from Bangor Maine throughout the world. Mr. Peavey as far as most of us care is one with Nineveh and Tyre. But with a Peavey we move our logs and the name will live with us as long as men take timber to a mill

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fox News Holy War and Upstate South Carolina

    Fox News has been a travesty this last week with clowns like Franklin Graham and Bobby Jeffress of FBC Dallas on Air trying to stoke a Holy War with Greater Islam. Then last night Bill Oreilly's went into full asshole mode in his "conversation" with Sojourner's Jim Wallis and a Quaker Woman. It's a trick right out of Roger Aieles/ Lee Atwater Nixon handbook.
    Upstate S.C. can make a difference in this one. Charles Kimball of Furman, Baxter Wynn, of FBC  Greenville can talk to folks at Clemson, Furman, even Gaffney and make a difference. Talk to Joe Crespino of Emory and Charles Kimball of Wake Forest and now at OU. They can shed some light. Also Steven Miller, the biographer of Billy Graham and his politics with Nixon.
     Dietrich Bonhoeffer prophesied Fox News in his time in Germany; called it the politics of Stupidity. Charles Marsh, enlightened Baptist minister's son wrote a book  circa, Wayward Christian Soldiers 2004, on General Boykin and Charles Stanley and other shallow Christians. Marsh has also written the definitive bio of Bonhoeffer to date.
     Kimball, Crespino, Marsh or Upstate novelist Mark Powell of the Dark Corner --a political thriller-- would make great panel on the likes of the Diane Rehm show to talk about Billy Graham, FBC Spartanburg, Trey Gowdy and Senator Lindsay Graham and the temptations and seductions of Fox News. Good Baptists and other people of faith in Upsate S.C. know better. Now is the time for them to engage the insidiousness of the challenged and insidious provocateurs at Fox News and their Tea Party network

  Written on the fly; please pardon typos and other evidence of bad style and grammar.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Marshall Frady and Billy Graham

     In his prologue to his 1979 biography of Billy Graham Marshall Frady shares Billy Graham's routine of getting ready for one of his jello baths of evangelical escapes from the troubles of this world, the Revival Crusade events of the 50s 60s and 70s. Billy would seek isolation for two hours and get in the Word, polish his notes-- even Ruth was not to distrub him. And often he would slip off into a light nap before the event and have a recurring dream. He is away , out of the country somewhere, and there has been a Presidential election in America and nobody will tell him who won, and then he wakes.
     Dartmouth Religion Chair Randall Balmer had an incisive paragraph about the Presidential politics of Graham in his 2014 biography of Jimmy Carter's religious political pilgrimage, The Redeemer President. In the fall of 1980 Billy Graham placed a call to Paul Laxalt of the Reagan team wanting to help the Reagan team. Balmer picks up the story there:

     Graham's statement of "neutrality" in the 1980 campaign was at the least, disingenuous. Nor was this the first political campaign where Graham pushed the boundaries of credibility. Twenty years earlier, August, 1960,  Graham had sent a letter to JFK, pledging he would not raise the "religious Issue" in the fall l campaign. Eight days later Graham convened a a group of American Protestant ministers in Montreux Switzerland, to strategize about how they might prevent Kennedy's election in November.  {Graham also contacted Henry Luce of Time and wrote him]: " I want to help Nixon without blatantly endorsing him". Graham drafted an article praising Nixon that stopped just short of endorsing him. Luce was prepared to run it in Life Magazine but pulled it at the last minute.
    In 1960 eight days had elapsed between Graham's letter of assurance to Kennedy and the Montreux gathering. In the 1980 campaign 11 days separated Graham's phone call to Laxalt and his pledge of neutrality to a staff member (Bob Maddox) of the Carter camp. End Balmer Quote

     Grant Wacker has just published a new biography of Billy Graham the fifth major work all of them close to 400 pages or more. Steven Miller had a shorter work a couple years ago focussing on Graham's politics with Nixon and Billy's navigation of the Civil Rights era. UNC proff Molly Worthy, author of The Apostles of Reason a most insightful work on the hundred year struggle of American evangelicals  with the concept of inerrancy with a chapter on the turmoil the last quarter century in the Southern Baptist Convention; Molly has an exhaustive review of Wacker's bio in the Feb 23 issue of Nation magazine. Of Wacker's effort Worthen says: "The result is the most comprehensive and balanced analysis of Billy Graham ever published. Wacker makes a convincing case that Graham was indeed an icon of his ageā€”but he was hardly a crusader who changed history."

    Steven Miller in his book on Nixon and Graham saw the double minded ways, the duplicity in which Graham spoke; but the product of his actions as it came to be in the Bush 43 years something else entirely. While Graham decried the rhetoric of conservative Christian political preachers and activists his activity benefitted most those he decried. Miller further laments: " Most of his supporters interpretted him as an evangelist and nothing else, a reality that makes a sensitive consideration of his full political and cultural significance something of a challenge"

     But it is likely Baptist preacher's son Marshall Frady who got Billy right for all time, and did so almost 40 years ago.
    Marshall Frady was a 1963 graduate of Furman University. He died in 2004, There is a great tribute to him online,   an easy google search for the Unvanquished, Scott Sherman, author. And Hal Crowther, a frequent columnist for Oxford American Magazine had a stellar tribute when Frady died, now in a collection of Crowther's essays Gather at the River. And most recently, Miller of the Nixon/Graham book presented a paper on Marshall Frady and Billy Graham at the Worlds of Billy Graham Conference at Wheaton in the fall of 2013. Those presentations have been collected in an anthology to be published by Harvard Press in 2016.
     Jesse Jackson and Frady were lifelong friends since Frady's days at Furman when Jackson was a vendor in the stands for Furman's basketball games at the Old Greenville Auditorium downtown. They had an understanding, whoever died first the other would do a eulogy.
    At the service for Frady in the winter of 2004, Furman Chaplain Jim PItts and retired OT proff T.C. Smith were ambassadors for Will Campbell to Frady's rites and read a a commendation of Frady's life by Campbell.
     Joe Cumming was the Newsweek bureau chief in 60s Atlanta for Newsweek magazine, and Frady's first boss just two years after Furman. In the fall of 1965, just six months afther the Selma Bridge crossing, Frady was writing for Newsweek from Lowndes County Alabama on the trial for the murder of Jonathan Daniels.
    T.C. Smith had marched with King in Selma, and Furman grad Martin England, a founder of Koinonia Farms, was there with him. England had been the first courier out of the Birmingham jail of Martin Luther King's great letter.
    Cumming's son Doug currently teaches journalism at Washington and  Lee University. For the last two years he has studied Frady's papers now housed at Emory. In the fall of 2014 in the Journal of Literary Studies Cumming had a piece on Frady's ordeal with the legal team of the Billy Graham's network as Graham's people attempted to sabotage publication of his 79 Billy Graham, A Parable of American Righteousness.
     Cumming says in the portrayal  portrayal of Graham as Melville's Billy Budd Frady concluded  that Graham as the popular face of righteous America  was  an  " inocence 'distilled'  that  permitted a dangerous immaturity post war America had loosed on the world and the   Christian faith."
      There is one other book worthy of note as we go another round with Billy with the publication of Wacker's bio. That is Princeton's Robert Wuthnow's Rough Country. Thomas Powers in the October 9, New York review of books ( print issue only) does a masterful job about how rightwing Texas fundamentalists over a hundred years have created a mindset that has evolved from the Hot Hell of WA Criswell literalism to a template for the Tea Party of today. It is not surprising that Billy Graham who at key times tipped his hand to the crusade of the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC--Charles Stanley election in Dallas, his closeness with Ed Young from late 60's to Young and his son Eddie's current theatrics in Houston and Dallas--would move his membership from FBC Dallas of Criswell and the Hunt Brothers, to FBC Spartanburg,S.C. the base of operations of Fox News and Tea Party darling Congressman Trey Gowdy.
    For the last several years FBC Spartanburg has hosted in conjunction with North Greenville College and other fundamentalist concerns an annual symposium featuring folks from Eric Metaxas, the man who hijacked the legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, to David Barton and his maligned church state and founding fathers history of America, toBen Carson and other apologists of the Tea Party right.
    In the Charles Marsh biography of Bonhoeffer he writes of the martyr's New Years's Eve 1944 concerns over what he called the "politics of stupidity". It is a lesson, an insight Marshall Frady tapped into in 1979; and much of the evangelical world and considerable portion of other bents yet fails to understand and accept in their estimation of Billy Graham.