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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 www.clsnet.org 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.

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

Friday, May 04, 2018

Trump, the Birch Society and the Unraveling of the Southen Baptist Convention

   Yesterday May 3 Theatlantic dot com posted a Jonathan Merritt story on wife abuse and Paige Patterson who with Jesse Helms and the alleged sodomist Paul Pressler were key players in the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention.

     Two blogs below you see the framework of Bush 41 and Lee Atwater's contribution to this miasma, something Jon Meacham whatever the merits of his latest book on the Soul of America, and they are considerable, missed in his recent biography. He had some fine words for Barbara but there are other things to be said about Bush 41 and the fundy leader he nominated to head the office of US Ethics in 1990.

   I was talking to a key person on the topic of the Southern Press this morning. He agrees that the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC; if it had happened, that key ingredient hadn't been left to foment with the complicity of Billy Graham and often the encouragement of the Bush family and the outright perniciousness of Rove and the poison of the likes of the Devil's Bargain of Trump and fundamentalists, well quite likely there wouldn't have been Bush 43 and the Iraq war and now Trump.

    Garry Wills got it right in his review of Joe Scarborough's book on the GOP in NY Rev of Books about five years ago, and then again with similar treatment of EJ Dionne. Tom Edsall has skirted the matter sporadically since in WAPO 1986 Sat page A4 I think it was June 6 or so: "New Right now Controls Huge SBC". Got Harry Dent's syncophant Ed Young in perspective.

   My friend Ellen Rosenberg prophesied it all in 1988 in a letter to me I have published in the History Section of Baptistlife.com

    Pressler, a son of a VP of Exxon Oil in Houston, long time friend of the Birch Society and White Citizens Council in cahoots with the Jesse Helms Network and later Atwater and Karl Rove, in the Birch infested Harris County Texas took his resentments against Brown V Board and LBJ and later focused on Bill Moyers and Furman Religion proff Jack Flanders who went to Baylor. His personal grievances and his poisonous right wing hatred of the Catholic Jack Kennedy and Martin Luther King fomented into the 79 through 92 fundamentalist takeover of the SBC.

     Bush 41 stood up to the Birchers in 66 in Harris county but by 88 when Barr told him they needed a nutcracker (Lee Atwater--see his notice in Wuthnow's Rough Country) and here we are with Mike Huckabee (also complicitous with Pressler and his Arkansas agent Ronnie Floyd) in the prayer breakfast moment with Trump yesterday.

   Yes Mr. Meacham there is a cancer in the soul of America and the Bush family is much more complicitous than you allowed in what to date passes for the definitive biogragphy.

     Bill Friday, the chancellor of the UNC system in 88 told FBC Asheville NC pastor Cecil Sherman who told me in 93 in Greensboro, the most significant event in North Carolina the decade of the 80s was the fundamentalist takeover of my Dad's seminary Southeastern. Cause Jesse Helms --Paige Patterson was to be President within five years of Randall Lolley's ouster--and his Bircher network with Pressler knew that in the seminary they could produce a generation of fundamentalist preachers who could get in the heads of every hamlet and suburb in North Carolina with tentacles all along the east coast and flip them on the social issues to the Right.

    I hope those days are about over and Dallas in a couple weeks where WA Criswell was the priest to the Birch Society the whole 2nd half of the 20th Century; as Denis Johnson says in the great American novella Train Dreams, Those Days are about gone forever. 

    Jonathan Merritt may be a little overrated, himself the son of a recent fundamentalist president of the SBC from near Dacula Georgia, but he placed a marker on America's evangelical history yesterday in the Atlantic.

   Here is a link to his piece:
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/05/sbc-patterson/559532/?utm_source=fbb
   

   May it be so

Friday, April 27, 2018

Bush 41, Meacham and the SBC wing of the Eagle Forum

       T Perry Brannon was a Missionary denominationalist and tent revival preacher during the Depression through the early 50s of Chattanooga Tennessee. He was born in the Corinth community of Gaffney SC where my Dad was a Baptist preacher from 62-78.

   His father, my Grandfather WD Shorty Fox had an 8th grade education and worked the third shift at Celanese in Rome Ga from 29 to 65. He could heard TPerry on the radio and was the height of his faith pilgrimage to be a prayer warrior for Brother Brannon when he came to Rome on more than one occasion for his sometime three week revivals.

   Papa's first grandchild, my first cousin Harold Brannon Simmons did pretty well with Sears and Roebuck in corporate offices and Atlanta. His middle name was for the preacher.

    So it is with some interest I finally have Chattanooga native and Harvard PHD Marie Griffith's new book Moral Combat about how the Eagle Forum and other women of the Birch Society tradition shaped the modern day Republican party and church rifts in the Southern Baptist Convention and elsewhere.

    Andrew Jackson and Bush 41 biographer as another native of Chattanooga does her top back cover blurb. We know he was the Historian who said good things about Barbara Bush last Saturday at her funeral.

   I liked Barr. She told a great joke to the Columbia SC Rotary club in circa 96 and her son W last commencement address was at my and Marshall Frady's alma mater, Furman University in Greenville SC.

   Lee Atwater's daughter Salley is also a Furman grad and in a few weeks Clayte Hubbard, golfing son or recent Bama House Speaker Mike Hubbard will join our august ranks.

    So far after waiting with a bad car belt I thought was the alternator; after waiting three months to get my hands on the book from some great librarians at a nearby juco, spot reading I'm all in.

    I hope maybe Ms Griffith and I can do lunch later this summer, and would be a stoke for me and my blog if she can get Jon Meacham himself to read this.

   From Criswell to Jesse Helms takeover of the SEBTS seminary in Wake Forest NC to Criswell's race baiting speech to joint session of the 1956 SC legislature--Stewart Newman, the man who followed him at the SBC pastors conference the day before said WA shouted out "Now you wouldn't call a chigger a chiggerow, now wudya"; To Bush 41 ethics nominee Paul Pressler now the subject of numerous allegations of sodomy with boys he's  crossed  paths over the years; to Bush 41 1966 confrontation with the Harris County Texas John Birch Society, to EJ Daniels presentation in Gaffney in fall of 1966 on masturbation in the boys session right before the sermon Stop Lights on the Road to Hell, a few months before I saw Billy Graham and the Baptist movie star who was on Rawhide with Clint Eastwood at the 67 SBC in Miami; well Ms Griffith and I got a lot to talk about. Come back to this soon. I'm just startin to roll.

   Wuthnow and Lee Atwater's famous Nword memo; we got to talk to Meacham about that too!

Friday, April 06, 2018

Confederate Home Guard in South Dekalb County Alabama

        Edwin C. Bridges, a Graduate of my alma mater Furman University and 30 year archivist for the state of Alabama wrote the 2016 Bicentennial History of Momma's homestate. Among other flourishes he has several paragraphs on the failings of the Daughters of the Confederacy to tell the Truth about the Civil War to several generations of Bama's high school youth in their textbooks, and does justice to the truth pointing out DOC fallacies of  that era. His illustrious chapter on the Civil War and Reconstruction  in Alabama goes for 27 pages.

   He mentions numerous reports of Homeguard activity along the Bama, Florida panhandle border in the Piney Woods. There are reports from other sources about pockets of Homeguard  Activity in NE Bama  that went  from Stevenson on over to Winston County, basically Robert Aderholt's current Congressional district into Dade County Georgia.

    He also has a picture of Judge Frank Johnson in the book and one of Momma's hometown of Collinsville.

     Eulene Reed was a distant cousin of my Mother and her family is legendary in Sacred Harp community nationally with an annual singing at the Pine Grove Primitive Baptist Church on Lookout Mtn.  She tells a great story of my extended family of Union sympathizers  later in this blog. On the Oliver side of her family, Bud, was on first name basis with JFK's Vietnam Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and there is a picture of Bud and McNamara in the Collinsville History Museuam . See Kiri Miller's Traveling Home on the Reed/Oliver contributions to Sacred Harp.

   My Grandfather Jordan, born 1881, taught Eulene and her cousin Bud Oliver in the sixth grade at the church. Ive attended annual singings there pretty much every year the last twelve.

    His father, my great grandfather John Sanders Jordan was born in 1841 now buried in the Rocky Mount Cemetery about forty yards from the train tracks from Birmingham to Chattanooga up to Knoxville the Shenandoah Valley and beyond constructed in 1872. JSJ fought with the Union in the Alabama Vidette Regiment in skirmishes around Stevenson and the Nickajack area of the Tennessee River Valley.

    Oliver Hall II told me today his Dad Harris said the oral history in these parts  was the Jordans and other Lincolnites of South DeKalb County wore bonnets in the field to escape inquiries from the Rebels;  though II was as certain as my Cousin Eulene was sure, the Homeguard never operated in Collinsville.

    I tend to believe Eulene and Barrett Ashely knew what they were talking about.

    Today at lunch Eulene told me the story Barrett Ashley told her.

     Eulene's great Grandfather didn't believe in Slavery. The Home Guard in South DeKalb County came to his house down around the curve if you take a right at the ST Reed Place top of Lookout Mtn looking for him. He got word and wandered out into a cornfield. The HG got his wife and took her to the barn and threw a rope over an eave and noosed her hangin. She told em they could hang her till she died but she wasn't gonna help em in the least.

     They did discover somehow he had ran into the cornfield and they shot it up pretty good but never saw him. I guess they ran out of ammo. Story was later he got to the brow and hollered to kin he made it alive.

   Eulene is one of his direct descendants.

    She said a retarded son was born soon after the incident. Her ggrandfather went to the neighbor in the homeguard and told him if he didn't apologize for noosing up his wife and the resulting injury to his newborn he was gonna kill him if he didn't get on his knees and pray for  forgiveness.

    They both had a salvation moment in that ordeal and Eulene's Great Grandfather became a Baptist Preacher.

   Gives extra mustard for me at least  this August when I sing at Pine Grove, especially the verse of my friend  Sam Hodges Great great great Grandfather Fitzpatrick, a Rebel of Crawford County Georgia,  whose dying words from injuries in the Battle of Petersburg Va near the end of the war,  were from the  Sacred Harp hymn Jesus can make a dying bed, soft as downy pillows are.

    

Friday, March 23, 2018

Furman and White trash, Grit Lit and the Dan Norfleet stories

      Dan Norfleet was from Pascagoula Mississippi and is innocent to what may follow cause I knew him 40 years ago and his name just recently popped up. But I think he'll like this when it gets refined which it probably will not for at least ten days.

   I've been pinin to post this for a week now but havin trouble getting the car out of the front yard way before and after last Friday's fascinating afternoon at a nearby juco that happens to be about five miles from the church Dennis Covington made famous in Salvation on Sand Mtn; and the Sacred Harp singing of last September with some of the best food Ive attended in some time.

    Whatever is said, hats off to Joan Reeves of Flat Rock for about ten years bringing some of the best literary panels to the region. She hangs with the Mississippi and Nashville Book festivals Ive seen at my buddy's trailer some weekends on Cspan two and talked about here on my "illustrious "blog.

     Here is today' news. Fellow Furman grad George Singleton--I copied his story out of Oxford American couple years ago for my sister and Paces mom in Easley SC about Duco's-- AND they liked it. Been reading about him in the Furman alumni magazine and finally got to meet him, along with Wahalla SC's Mark Powell who went to Yale Divinity school and the Citadel and got to know Pat Conroy. Add that up and it's least a twofer if not nearing a trifecta.

      I'm getting near the Friday deadline across from the Masseuse place in downtown Ft. Payne Alabama where I had a memorable if brief chat with County Music megastar Randy Owen about three years ago. Told him I wasn't patronizing but I was surprised and fond of his transparency in his recent autobiography. Old Flame Feels So Right himself said: "Writin's Hard".

    So I got some things to say about the Grit Lit Anthology. Why was Padgett Powell flight of fancy from Woman Named Drown on screwin Yard Animals left out. And I think back in the 70s Robert Penn Warren was on to something when he said  at the cocktail session with his U Chicago friends at the end of A Place to Come To, incidentally cited by Furman President David Shi is his inaugural speech at Furman about 94, Why Don't One of you God Damned Sons a bitches say something about your Daddy.

      And there is the story of Steve Oney, the last man Furman great Marshall Frady reviewed in the NY Rev of Books, Oney's new collection a Man's life. Gregg Allman first meeting with Little Richard.

   Unforgettable.

   Later; come back for the full monty, no kiddin.


   PS 1 what one reviewer said Drown in 84:    

        ""People are hungry for new utterance,"" this wise little novel proclaims, and Powell feeds them well--a deep-fried bit of genius that's not for your average brie-eater.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Billy Graham and Me

       I missed Billy by two days in 2000, likely his last stop at Bridges BBQ in Shelby North Carolina. I found out on Jan 5 he had been there on the 2nd, rough dates. In the 60s when we drove up from Gaffney his picture was on the wall with Jesse Helms. That about tells the story there but I have more.

     Al Mohler the fundamentalist traitor in the Southern Baptist Convention who flipped on Roy Honeycutt at Southern Seminary where Mohler became President told Bonhoeffer scholar and Baptist Minister's son Charles Marsh a few years ago most folks would be surprised how active Billy was behind the scenes for the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    Still Graham has the tributes of President Carter at the Billy Gee Museum in Charlotte in 2007 and Clinton showed up too. Obama was the last to pray with him, but Franklin got Trump, helped get the pussy grabber elected so it's a mysterious world in the Baptist faith.

     Will Campbell's great friend at Furman LD Johnson was chair of the Billy Graham crusade in Greenville SC at Textile Hall in1966 where my Gaffney friend Steve Wright got saved. And a year later I saw Billy Gee again in Miami with Gregory Walcott at the SBC national convention in Miami.

   Never saw him again but did see Cliff Barrows while at Furman at Taylors Baptist and his son Buddy Mooned my sister's graduating class at Mars Hill in 1978. I was there but didn't see Buddy's Happy White Ass.

   So they had some fun along the way and it's hard to glue it down.

    Over the years I have talked to some of Billy's descendants, detractors and apologists. Ive Read Marshall Frady on Graham, paid for that biography in Knoxville in 79 and Still have my copy. Read Steven Miller on Graham and Nixon and my friend Randall Balmer easily googled piece Billy Graham and the Judgments of History.

    My Rhodes scholar nominee Friend and great Baptist pastor of my generation Richard Kremer who had the pulpit for a while at Charlotte's high dollar St Johns Baptist; we've talked about Billy too. Kremer as a high school student went several nights to the Montgomery Alabama crusade in late 6os of Billy's heyday.

   All the good things said about Billy now woulda been embraced by my grandfather WD Shorty Fox, a  prayer warrior with an 8th grade education who also prayed for me. So that's in my guts too; then again Billy hosted Nixon in Knoxville a few weeks after Kent State--Nick Saban was there--and Al Gore's father was purposely not invited.

      Like all of us Billy was a man of his time, The Cold War and only three TV networks with a captive audience. And he was Johnny Cash's friend and later a daughter was a good friend of Gaffney beauty Andie Macdowell.

    So I only saw him twice in person, barely missed him at Bridges but like millions of other southern white boys who followed him about 30 years, he was part of the extended family.

    I hope to keep talking to some later members of the family, maybe at Furman by Mid April.

     May he rest in Peace.

   But here on earth some of us in Jesus Name will give Franklin Hell till he comes around to better discernment.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Gowdy farewell interview on Fox, Bonhoeffer and Lincoln Not happy

   I think it was Feb 7 a Tuesday Martha MacCallum gave Trey Gowdy the most part of the hour for a farewell interview to the US House. She was quite lubricious, almost a nauseous look like Eddie Murphy's aunt in Nutty Professor talking about Oprah's Steadman.

   But it got worse. Gowdy the theological product of FBC Spartanburg SC where he shares membership with Billy Graham; the product of their Truth for a New Generation Conference stretched disbelief at the end. He invoked the names of Jesus Christ, Lincoln and Bonhoeffer as his guiding lights.

      For one Lincoln is the subject of a four part biography by Sidney Blumenthal who Gowdy demonized in the Ben Ghazi hearings. Ive read most of the first two installments. They are sterling. Gowdy is no Lincoln heir, in fact he is not even of the plateau of Blumenthal who he deplores. Gowdy could learn a lot from Blumenthal.

     But his greater blasphemy is with Bonhoeffer. His FBC Sburg conference have hosted the discredited Constitutional and American founding father's "scholar" David Barton--see the Baptist global news link on Barton; they have also hosted the bonhoeffer impostor and Trump apologist Eric Metaxas.

    Upshot is time for Furman and Wofford, historic Baptist and Methodist institutions in Gowdy's district to have shared conferences on Bonhoeffer and the blashphemy Gowdy and the TFNG conferences  is making of his legacy.

   Bring Baptist Ministers son and authentic Bonhoeffer scholar Charles Marsh to campus. Have Furman grad Karen Guth who wrote the easily googled Christian Century piece Claims on Bonhoeffer back to alma mater where her Father Jim Guth is a poli sci proff legend.

    A Recent book  How Democracies Die by Harvard scholars, endorsed by Fareed Zhakaria (sp?) is in play in this matter. Call Gowdy out.

   I've had enough of this sham.