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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.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Cormac McCarthy goin on Oprah

This is gonna be an interesting event.

March 29, 2007, 4:04PMOprah picks Cormac McCarthy book; he offers interview
By HILLEL ITALIEAssociated Press

NEW YORK — Before Wednesday, few could have imagined the names "Oprah Winfrey" and "Cormac McCarthy" appearing in the same sentence.
McCarthy, one of the country's most revered and press-shy authors — a man only slightly more accessible than J.D. Salinger — will give his first ever television interview, lured by the long arm of Winfrey, publishing's biggest hit-maker and a media superstar.
Winfrey announced Wednesday on her Chicago-based TV show that McCarthy's The Road was her new book club pick.
"Mr. McCarthy respects her work, admires what she has accomplished, has an awareness of her book club, and thought it would be interesting to participate in the conversation with Oprah," McCarthy's publicist, Paul Bogaards of Alfred A. Knopf, told the Associated Press. "He knew who she was when she called."
In selecting The Road, not only will Winfrey meet with an author who, according to Bogaards, has given just two interviews in the past 40 years, but she has taken on a novel with little of the uplifting spirit she often favors.

See the whole artice from the Houston Chronicle of March 29 at this link

I've never met Cormac, we just missed each other in Knoxville in late 70's. Among all the things written about him I like Hal Crowther's take in Cathedrals of Kudzu. And the early 90's story on Cormac in NY Times is worth googling up.
Did meet Lucas Black, however, who played Jimmy Blevins in Cormac's All the Pretty Horses. Black was bat boy for Speake girls Softball team at the time mid 90's, when Speake came over to play Ashley Adrian and her squad in Collinsville. I think Kevin Summerall was about junior so that woulda made it Spring of 96.
I went over twice near Moulton lookin for Lucas, but never caught him at home. Talked to his neighbor. I liked what Billy bob said about Lucas and his Momma in the feature of the Director's Cut of Slingblade.
But Cormac is man of the hour now. If you are over 50 and ever been through Knoxville, Tn and claim to be literate; then a read of Cormac's Suttree is the test. Read Suttree and you will forever know Knoxville in all its Biblical proportions.
AS his website shows, Cormac wrote a screenplay in 76 about Graniteville, S.C.; fascinating tale starring Brad Dourif who was in Wise Blood as Haze MOtes.
It is all stark. Gonna be interesting to see how Oprah and Cormac negotiate the hour, minus commercials.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Fascinating article from Oxford American

The Strange Case of Brad Vice and his book The Bear Bryant Funeral Train

Check the Website cause I think many of you will want a copy of the upcoming Movie Issue

This one bout explains the remaining mysteries of the ambience of Alabama

I particularly liked this paragraph

This is where I confess that I left my hometown of Mobile, Alabama, for bigger cities a long time ago and rarely looked back. Like the narrator of “What Happens in the ’Burg, Stays in the ’Burg,” who, during a very successful fish fry on his lawn in Russellville, Arkansas, wishes he were at a martini party with his cold but graceful ex-wife, I occasionally have the feeling, while sipping a martini at some swank hotel bar, surrounded by slick beauties in fishnets and men in elegant pants, that I’d much rather be elsewhere: drinking cold beer at a fish fry. And like The Moviegoer—Walker Percy’s unforgettable tale of soul-searching, polite society, and secretarial lust in New Orleans, which I have carried with me to places as far-flung as Reykjavík and Beijing just to have a taste of home in my backpack—The Bear Bryant Funeral Train serves as a kind of uneasy reminder of the landscape and culture I left behind. Uneasy because it holds no tidy answers to racism or poverty or, in fact, the demagoguery of its title story, nor does it offer up quaint suggestions of mint-julep-infused yarn-spinning on wraparound porches. And yet, reading these stories, I cannot help wondering what it would be like to hear them on just such a porch, holding just such a drink in my hand, tasting the mint and the cool, slippery ice. In this happy fantasy I am barefoot and wearing one of those summer dresses Irwin Shaw was so fond of. One does not often go barefoot or wear summer dresses in my adopted hometown of San Francisco.
Which is to say that there are so many different lives we can choose, and no matter how well-suited we are to the one we end up with, there’s no banishing the longing for the one we turned away from. There are places a person can leave without feeling some regret, but I’m not sure you can ever leave your childhood home without, one day, feeling the sting of it....

Again the whole thing is linked here.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

UPDATE: FBC Greenvile SC's Jeff Rogers weighs in on the Ossuary

Update March 28
Here is a little jewel on same subject from the Christian Century. And you may want to click on the link for full piece. While there fans of BBTaylor will want to check her Easter Message, about the alternative Jesus, the one that got me in trouble in Collinsville, Alabama.

Century Jewel on the ossuary
An old joke has a graduate student giving the news to the great theologian Paul Tillich: "They've discovered the bones of Jesus!" To which Tillich replies, in his thick German accent, "So he really did exist!" Christianity began with reports of an empty tomb and appearances of a risen Lord. For St. Paul, if God has not raised this righteous Jew, then Christian faith is futile and its adherents are still in their sins. But over the years some Christians have decided, with Tillich, that the resurrection was more of a spiritual than a physical event.

And the link

The Bone Boxxes some claim are the bones of Christ.
Rogers is former Furman religion proff and had great lecture in the What Really Matters collection published by Smyth and Helwys. He is good friend of Charles Kimball, former colleague in the Furman Religion Department; Kimball author of When Religion becomes Evil
Here is Rogers in the March 22

Both religion and scholarly standards have been trivializedUnwillingness to bring serious intellectual scrutiny undermines the credibility of scholars.Published: Saturday, March 24, 2007 - 2:00 am
By Jeff Rogers
Now that the proverbial dust has settled on the first-century limestone ossuaries or "bone boxes" from Jerusalem that made their American debut recently at the New York Public Library, we can begin to see beyond the immediate controversy to three underlying factors that affect the academic community and the public at large: the trivialization of religion, the rise of the celebrity scholar and the eclipse of scholarly standards.
The trivialization of religion as an academic and professional discipline is clear in a statement by Hollywood producer and director James Cameron while he served as the master of ceremonies for the unveiling of the ossuaries: "I'm not a biblical scholar ... but it seemed pretty darn compelling."
Imagine an alternative scenario. Cameron announces, "I'm not an astronomer or a biologist, but this Canadian filmmaker has discovered life on Mars. It's pretty darn compelling." Would anyone but National Enquirer run the story? Or he says, "I'm not a viral epidemiologist, but this Canadian filmmaker has discovered an herbal antidote for HIV. It's pretty darn compelling." That's the stuff of Star magazine.
But because this story was allegedly about Jesus of Nazareth, the bar is set so low that tabloid claims and celebrity endorsements are all that are necessary to merit widespread attention. Unlike in most academic and professional fields, as long as a story in religion excites or tantalizes, inspires or scandalizes, it makes good copy, good video or good live talk for even serious news-media outlets, with the result that the disposition of the remains of Jesus the son of Joseph, James Brown and Anna Nicole Smith all played on the same wavelength.

A second factor in the splash the ossuaries made is the rise of the celebrity scholar. Two well-credentialed American biblical scholars participated in the debut. Neither of them questioned the adequacy of the evidence or challenged the validity of its interpretation. Their unwillingness to bring serious intellectual scrutiny to sensational claims undermined the credibility of scholars in all academic disciplines.
The American public relies on its credentialed scholars in every field to put knowledge ahead of notoriety and to distinguish between substance and sensationalism. Unfortunately, it was enough for these two scholars to share the platform with a Hollywood icon, to "begin the conversation" about the ossuaries (27 years after their discovery!) and to speak excitedly of the "possibility," when the scholarly calling is to establish plausibility and insist on verifiability. In a curious reversal of roles, several print-media and television reporters exhibited more scholarly skepticism and asked tougher historical and scientific questions than either biblical scholar on the dais.
As their behavior indicates, the rise of the celebrity scholar portends the eclipse of scholarly standards. It is already not unusual for faculty to receive more congratulations on campus for appearing on a prime-time television program than for publishing an article in a peer-reviewed journal. Marketing and public relations departments, enrollment officers, development officers and university and seminary presidents see national exposure as offering a strategic advantage for their institution in a highly competitive market.
After all, prospective students and donors as well as proud alums browse Barnes & Noble and surf They don't wade through scholarly abstracts or pore over conference proceedings. It should come as no surprise, then, that publications for popular audiences, once anathema, are now increasingly popular in the academy. Institutional reward systems being what they are, we are on the cusp of a new academic era: publicity or perish.
Retreating into academic isolationism is not an option. Instead, the best way forward is concerted and sustained attention to the scholar's vocation. Challenging unfounded claims and questioning misguided assumptions are at the heart of the scholarly calling. Bringing the hard-won knowledge and insight of scholarship that has been through the crucible of peer review to bear on issues in the public sphere is worthy of scholars' time and energy and institutional support.
New opportunities abound for credentialed and capable individuals who are willing and able (or willing to learn) to communicate effectively beyond the trenches of their respective disciplines. However, if the eclipse of standards evident in the rise of the celebrity scholar is to be only a temporary darkness, then academic departments, institutions and professional organizations must call their own to account for their behavior in the public sphere. The credibility of the entire academic community is at stake whenever the public at large is confused by credentialed sensationalists who fail to live out their scholarly calling.

Jeff Rogers is senior pastor of Greenville's First Baptist Church and teaches in the M.A. program in religion at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C. He can be contacted at @firstbaptistgreenville. com.
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Readers' letters: March 24, 2007

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Reverend Roger's opinion on evolution.bobamick Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 9:52 am
First, to Mr/Rev Rogers: thanks for taking the time and making the effort to follow up on your op-ed piece by contributing to this forum. Too often, contributors do not take the time to continue the debate, when it is easily accessible to anyone with an internet connection. My bone (sorry!) to pick with your piece concerns decrying the monetary emphasis in academia, and a tacit plea to reel in its maverick publicity seekers (with which I agree), while, in fact, many would like to see you 'clean your house' as well. That is, why is there no outcry from community religious leaders regarding the outrageous, for lack of a better term, 'new christianity'? Bumpkin former used car salesmen create some wildly economically successful claptrap theology like the Redemption World Outreach right under the noses of seminarians, who, likely, among themselves recognize this unctuous underbelly, yet never criticize them openly. And why is it so important to spend millions of dollars on adding to and replacing perfectly useable church buildings, with more, bigger, better? I can't imagine 'mission' contributions being more poorly spent. Every time I see a new 'cathedral' being built I think of the homeless and hungry being served by Triune Mercy Center, and how much better that construction fund could have been spent. Would you venture a comment on these points?makingitup Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 9:27 am
++ Not all participants (and leaders) in Greenville's various faith communities--Christian and non-Christian alike--uncritically assume that "faith" and "certainty" are synonyms ++ I've been trying to put my finger on this, and I think I finally touched on it. Despite what I said above, I don't think a discussion about faith is at all pertinent to the larger matter. I now realize that this is the problem I've had with this discussion (since it first became known in the news, I mean) all along. Cameron merely had $$ dollar signs in his eyes when he contemplated these bones, and it surprises me that anyone would have thought otherwise. For Christians such as fundamentalist Pastor Minnick to pick up this story and run with it as he did was destined to call additional attention to the factual problems with Christianity that have existed all along. You're entitled to your "faith," but there are always going to be some people who laugh at you if you try to present it as "certainty." But that's what Fundamentalists do. Christianity wouldn't be nearly as successful as it has been if no one thought it was the truth. You and I know "faith" and "certainty," or faith and "truth," are not synonyms. I can appreciate that. But maybe you should be discussing all this with Pastor Minnick himself (and others like him) over a cup of coffee, rather than taking up newspaper space making a greedy Hollywood director look more important than he really is, eh? Truthsmack Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 8:30 am
I'm glad I could provide a little Saturday morning amusement. However, "blind faith" and "centuries of the death threat to nonbelievers" are barking up the wrong tree in this case. Not all participants (and leaders) in Greenville's various faith communities--Christian and non-Christian alike--uncritically assume that "faith" and "certainty" are synonyms, and many of us actively champion religious liberty as freedom of religion and from religion.JRogers Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 7:50 am
Though somehow, Pastor Joe Blow can get up in a pulpit and say that a resurrection occurred, and people believe him without a single shred of physical evidence... just some stories he read in an old book, compiled by dead men, who wanted to assure their own power in the world while they were still in it. That's what this article should really be about. Truthsmack Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 7:42 am
Amusing that the religious consistantly apply such serious skepticism only when something they believe on blind faith is challenged. "Unlike in most academic and professional fields, as long as a story in religion excites or tantalizes, inspires or scandalizes, it makes good copy, good video or good live talk for even serious news-media outlets, with the result that the disposition of the remains of Jesus the son of Joseph, James Brown and Anna Nicole Smith all played on the same wavelength." Which is the very reason the cult of Jesus has become so popular in the first place. Of course centuries of the threat of death toward nonbelievers, didn't hurt either.AlanS Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 6:53 am
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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Phto Opp with Son of Nixon's Barber

And the Great Granddaugther of David Brinkley's first cousin; Brinkley of the Mid 20th Century NBC icon David Brinkley, Chet Huntley's other half. I understand there is documentation, papers that connects Little Lilly to the Wallace County North Carolina Brinkley's. For sure the intelligence is there, in the genetic code; my assessment with just one course of developmental psychology and various readings to my name.
Bad news the picture isn't ready yet; but I have access and that was the deal when it was taken.
Good moment in an otherwise overwhelming ten days; trials and tribulations about which I am not quite ready to discuss. But today, March 22, I have a pulse and from what I hear, that is always a good sign.
I caught Elizabeth Edwards News conference at 12:20 today. Brave woman, inspirational. I like the Edwards, and Obama got me real enthusiastic with his announcement in Springfield.
Unlike most of you I have taken his measure with a fairly careful reading of his cover story in the current New Republic. But right now I am leaning Biden/Richardson ticket, hoping they can bring to their campaign the best of Edwards and Obama.
OBama is like listening to a politcal symphony. Chords are there, strong evolution of the lyrical line; but the application of the music, I'm not sure; the administration of the thing.
Whatever happens to me this Spring, I want you to know that I told you Pearl, in the novel The March, by Doctorow had a good spring in the cotton fields in Georgia in the 1850's. I want you to read her testimony on page 200 or thereabouts.
Come back in ten days or so for the photo.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Getting to the Heart of the Matter: Sep Church and State

I am still of the opinion what George Truett and Baptists who understood him and understand what the separation of church and state is about; that it all matters.
As I have said before, Jon Appleton of Athens Georgia, whose Great Grandfather's picture adorns the Overstreet Room of the Collinsville Baptist Church is passionate about it.
Matthew has heard about it at Yale in Randall Balmer's class.
Lot of folks in NE Alabama and elsewhere, possibly anyone who lets his SBC Cooperative Program funds support the ERLC of Richard Land could be bogus Baptists
I'm not being self righteous here, I am a deeply flawwed creature, as my guts have let me know these last ten days.

But here is what a mentor of the one of the brightest students ever to grace the Halls of the Collinsville School system is thinking on the mentor in the current issue of The New Republic. The Whole Article is online. Maybe some of the Christian Women of Collinsville can take a look during a break from their Gathering this weekend, on the 19th anniversary of the Passing of My Momma.
My Momma walked out on Charles Stanley and like the refrain of Emmy Lou Harris and Patty Griffin's New Song, I say Hallelujah

Here is Andrew Sullivan joining me and Truett and Balmer and Appleton, John Baugh, My Momma and a host of other Baptist saints (excepting me as a saint, of course)

n all of this, D'Souza is saying nothing that has not already been said on the theoconservative right. The Christianist base of the Republican Party strongly believes that the law can never attempt to be morally neutral; it believes passionately in fixed gender roles and the patriarchy of the traditional family....
Moreover, Islamism removes the separation of church and state that D'Souza sees as the fons et origo of America's moral pollution. He quotes Khaled Abou El Fadl, a distinguished Islamic thinker in Los Angeles: "A case for democracy presented from within Islam must accept the idea of God's sovereignty. It cannot substitute popular sovereignty for divine sovereignty but must instead show how popular sovereignty ... expresses God's authority, properly understood." In case we haven't absorbed the proper lesson for the United States, D'Souza adds: "This mirrors the Declaration of Independence's argument that it is the Creator who endows us with our inalienable rights, and thus it is a perfect expression of the conservative understanding of American democracy."

Just to be clear: D'Souza is arguing that a democracy under divine authority and subject to theological truth is "a perfect expression of the conservative understanding of American democracy." Why should we be surprised that he wants an alliance with theocratic autocracies in the devel- oping world? In D'Souza's eyes, both the American Constitution and traditional Islam have a common foe. "Secularism is the common enemy," D'Souza quotes a Muslim scholar as saying. "Men and women in the West who are still devoted to the life of faith should know that those closest to them in this world are Muslims." In a spectacular attempt to prove he means exactly this, D'Souza throws into the mix an excoriation of Turkey as excessively secular. Atatürk's "militant secularization of Turkey is being reversed," D'Souza notes, "and on balance it is a good thing. Muslims have the right to live in Islamic states under Muslim law if they wish."
D'Souza is rehearsing the mainstream view of the religious right with respect to the notion of separating church and state. They oppose it, and so does he. But with what a twist! Where he differs from the religious right is in his willingness to find the proper political authority, the proper models of political virtue, in Islam. Islam and Christianity together: that is D'Souza's dream. He does not seem especially interested in God. He writes nothing about his own faith, whatever it is. His interest is not in the metaphysics or the mysteries of religion, but in the uses of religion for social control. (Somewhere Machiavelli is smiling.) In the goal of maintaining patriarchy, banning divorce, outlawing homosexuality, and policing blasphemy, any orthodoxy will do. D'Souza's religion, in a sense, is social conservatism. He is not going to let a minor matter such as the meanings of God get in the way of his religion.
In this regard, of course, he runs the risk of isolation. He is going to have a hard time keeping his coalition of the holy together. The members of the Christianist right in America believe that Islam is a false faith, opposed to their own. And this actual faith of theirs, their awkward belief in the exclusive truth of their own revelation, will certainly get in the way of their supporting an alliance of moral parity, or even an alliance of convenience, with a rival faith. Even the Republican Episcopalians in Falls Church eager to be run by Nigerians draw the line at Nigerian Muslims (with whom Nigerian Christians are actually at war).
Similarly, most secular conservatives have understood the war on terror as in part a war against the more violent rigidities of Islam. Many such conservatives see the way in which women are treated in Muslim society as repulsive; they find the Nazi-like anti-Semitism evil, and the reflexive comfort with violence and lack of religious freedom in much of the Muslim world appalling. The notion of actually seeing the world sympathetically through Islamist eyes--of agreeing with them on the need to keep women in burkas, gays hidden, and religious faith as the arbiter of public policy--is, well, very difficult. That explains why many conservatives have criticized this book severely. Islamism is not their idea of how to fix the crisis of conservatism.
D'Souza's thesis was indeed described as "regrettable" and "nonsensical" by Victor Davis Hanson, and as "intellectually obtuse, poorly informed and, most importantly, an irresponsible exercise in putatively conservative bomb-throwing" by the influential Republican blogger Dean Barnett. Scott Johnson, of the popular Republican blog Powerline, had this to say about the book in The New Criterion: "Having engaged in the effort to understand the Muslims as they understand themselves ... D'Souza generally does not seek to judge them by a standard above or beyond Islam."
But this is somewhat unfair to D'Souza. His standard for Islam is its effectiveness at maintaining a conservative social order. He doesn't care if the religion is Islam or Christianity, or if its adherents are black, brown, or white--as long as it performs the necessary social task

And if you want to read what he said before he got there, here is a link to the whole article
And if you want to do the serious thinking imperative for a citizen worthy of Jefferson and Lincoln's gift to us all in these perilous times, I think you should be reading the Book Infidel about the Somalian Muslim Woman, as well as my friend, Charles Kimball's When Religion Becomes Evil. Sept 11,2006 George Packer article, Moderate Martyrs, easily googled up, should be on your to do list as well.
I concede I have my own problems, namely and foremost, I need to get some things off the front porch.
I am working on it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

More links to Ron Rash At this site do the simple search for the Rash event

Great stuff in these links made easy here for you to click on. Several folks from Collinsville have read one or more of his novels including myself, Jeff Graves, John and Susan Weaver Morgan, Louise Jordan's daughter Marsha of Upstate South Carolina and her coworker Lynn Arve; and Lynn Gilbreath's boy; he's read it too. I'm the one that put him on to it; shank of the evening best I remember was when I emailed him or called him on the phone--can't remember now--and told him about it.
My sister Marsha got Rash to autograph World Made Straight for me; one of the best Birthday presents after 40 I ever got.
Holland Winchester and Billy, and Sam the Horse. Read about em in One Foot in Eden. You'll never forget em if you do.
Great stuff; good Baptist boy done well like Marshall Frady.
Find out about his book of poems Eureka Mill, outside Chester, South Carolina

And just today I discovered this sterling interview, this one by a woman who was raised in several trailer parks in Georgia and landed up in Oregon.

Working on a novel herself, she says she's thinks she's written her own "bass saller."
Like me, she is anxiously awaiting Rash's next one, about timber barons in North Carolina in the 30's. I wish my Grandfather W.D. Shorty Fox, a planer mill sawyer himself coulda lived to read it. He was working the mill at Conasauga, Tennessee when Uncle Fremont was born. GGreat Grandaddy James Manker Fox ran a boarding house there for the workers. Papa's brother Edgar Fox had a great story from Conasauga, as they all did.
Uncle Roy Helton too, Waymon's Dad; woulda liked this novel. It was one of Uncle Jack's that went the furthrest of that bunch--lot of em went pretty far--but Jack's boy ended up on Hilton Head.
I've never met him; lived in Boston for a while before he retired I understand; woulda been Dad and Uncle Prent's first cousin.

Here is the latest interview I could find:

And google up Karen Spears Zacharias and her home page. She's worth the effort.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Furman, Clemson sponsor Great conference/Rash and Robertson

I wanted to go but not gonna make it. May be having an appendectomy instead. Been a great year and the fun isn't over yet.

But for what coulda been, I add my applause to this effort:
(from the Greenville News by Furman Proff O'neill

'Our Past Before Us' seeks to uncover a usable historyThis week's conference will help interpret the Upstate's past so it can better map its future.Published: Thursday, March 8, 2007 - 2:00 am By Stephen O'Neill
Today, Friday and Saturday, the red hills of the South Carolina Upcountry will give up some of their secrets, telling about the Cherokee and the Catawba, about Pitchfork Ben Tillman and Ben Robertson, about African-Americans in slavery and freedom, about baseball on the mill hill and an auto industry in the Upstate 85 years before BMW, about the forgotten costs of urban renewal and economic development, and about music, transportation, religion, Reconstruction, industrialization and literature.
These topics and others will anchor a three-day interdisciplinary conference, "Our Past Before Us: The Search for the South Carolina Upcountry," that will seek to uncover a usable past by framing questions about the Upcountry's history in ways that will offer insight into the origins of present-day challenges. Events are designed to attract a wide audience and to generate dialogue among scholars, the public, civic and political leaders and the media. The conference is sponsored and hosted by Clemson and Furman universities and by the Upcountry History Museum and the Greenville County Library System, with funding from the Humanities Council of South Carolina. The conference is free and the public is welcome.
The conference's quest to tell about the Upcountry's history is timely, if not overdue. First, we know too little about this region's past. Within the state, the history of Charleston and the Lowcountry has overshadowed the stories of people and places above the fall line, which are no less important or interesting. Moreover, the Upcountry's successful efforts to reinvent its economic future, while paying dividends, have too often prompted citizens and leaders to look ahead but neglect what the past might tell us.
In preparing for this conference over the last year or so, scholars have already discovered new evidence about our past and new ways of understanding and describing Upcountry history. This conference will help the community at large -- its leaders and ordinary citizens -- consider and perhaps re-evaluate how our history has shaped who we are in the present. In that way, this conference seeks to map the past so that we may travel more sure-footedly into the future.

The keynote speakers are some of the most accomplished scholars and writers working in Southern and South Carolina history. University of Illinois historian Orville Vernon Burton, native of Ninety Six, will speak on historical memory and Gov. Ben Tillman. Other speakers over the course of three days include Charles Reagon Wilson, who is editor of the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture; Theda Perdue of the University of North Carolina; unofficial dean of Upcountry historians, Furman's A.V. Huff; novelist Ron Rash; Lacy K. Ford Jr. of the University of South Carolina; John David Smith of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Bernard E. Powers Jr. of the College of Charleston; and David Carlton of Vanderbilt University.
The conference also includes undergraduate sessions at both campuses and a History Fair on Saturday that showcases 15 local historical organizations that will have artifacts on display and books for sale.
Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher and theologian, once wrote, "Life is lived forward, but understood backwards." The Upcountry of South Carolina has shown time and again the ability to move forward, especially in terms of economic progress. In the transition from Old South to New, Upcountry civic leaders built an industrial future of textile mills on the ruins of a faltering agrarian economy.
In the 20th century, local business visionaries foresaw a textile economy undercut by foreign competition and helped reinvent a diversified economy of international businesses and global connections. Yet, amidst these successes, the Upcountry has too often been unwilling or uninterested in learning some of the hard lessons its history might have revealed.
Like elsewhere in the South, the Upcountry was slow to see the justice at the heart of the civil rights struggle and reluctant to address some of the unfortunate but obvious social and environmental consequences of industrialization. The Upcountry has also lagged behind other regions in preserving its historic buildings and in planning intelligently for growing suburbs, traffic and population. This conference hopes to remind folks who will listen that we need to understand backwards, so that we may move forward equipped with a bit more knowledge, intelligence and humility.
For information about the conference schedule and the session locations, please see on the Web:

Sessions 7, 8 and 9 seem to be the heart of the matter.

Here on Friday Morning in Alabama, I am indeed saddened, almost heartbroke I did not make it up. I am familiar with the novels--have one autographed--and poetry of Ron Rash. Here is a jewel from Ben Robertson who shares locale with Rash and who was the muse for the complementary half of the explorations last night.

Small farmers typically lived in a tight commmunity of kin and distant kin. Ben Robertson, in Red Hills and Cotton, wrote of his own kin in the Piedmont region of South Carolina:
Most of my kinfolks, when I was growing up, were located on Pea Ridge between Glassy and Six Mile Mountains, on a long rise of fine cotton country between two lonely spurs of pine-grown granite--we lived and some of us still live in the winding open valley of a river called Twelve Mile. The rest of our kinfolks live to the west of us; they have their houses along both banks of the river Keowee.
Robertson also gives us a good insight into the values of small farmers:
We are farmers, all Democrats and Baptists—a strange people, complicated and simple and proud and religious and family-loving, a divorceless, Bible-reading murderous lot of folks, all of us rich in ancestry and steeped in tradition and emotionally quick on the trigger." He also observed that "we believe in self-reliance, in self-improvement, in progress as the theory of history, in loyalty, in total abstinence, in total immersion, in faithfulness, righteousness, justice, in honoring our parents, in living without disgrace. We have chosen asceticism because all our lives we have had to fight an inclination to license--we know how narrow the gulf between asceticism and complete indulgence; we have always known much concerning the far outer realms, the extremes. We have tried throughout our lives to keep the Commandments, we have set for ourselves one of the strictest, sternest codes in existence, but our country is Southern and we are Southern, and frequently we fail."

And here, from a Sept 2006 blog at this site is a poem by Ron Rash

Rash from Eureka MillThe Last Interview
That's an early portrait on the wall,
painted the year I graduated fromPrinceton University,
the yearI took my first trip to the continent,
a disappointment, except for the wines.

But I digress. You spoke of exploitation,
the working man's abuse by men like me.
If they were so abused
why don't they goback
to the farms they flee to work in mills,
become Vanderbilt Agrarians
quoting Cicero as they slop their hogs.

In thirty-four when the Union leaders came
and promised everything they could, then more,
my workers stuck with me.
My workers knewI'd take care of them.
Eureka ranwhen other mills shut down.
I took a loss so they could have some work.
Noblesse obligeis an idea we still live by in the South.
All Men Created Equal? Yes, perhaps
but see how soon we sort the top ones out.
Watch any group of children,
they have leaders,followers and stragglers.
It does not changeas they grow older.
No one questions rankin war or politics
so why not business.

Don't think that I am stupid.
I see your penhasn't moved since this interview began.
You'll slant what I have said to fit your needs.
I know how writers work, their luxury
of always being outside looking in,passing easy judgments
while they risknothing of their own, mere dilettantes.
Your words mean nothing to me.
I know the truth.
I gave them more than they ever had before.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Randall Balmer debates the Counterfeit Baptist Richard Land

Randall Balmer, author of Thy Kingdom Come, did not call Land a counterfeit in this very civil exchange, though in his Chapter Where Have All the Baptists Gone, Balmer nails Land as such, and I think Rightly so.
As you see from this online Newsweek exchange, there was the needle about SBC "braying" about abortion. Great word Randall, exact and honest.
Baylor's Barry Hankins has a book coming out about Francis Schaefer that will help Casey Mattox and Dr. John Morgan understand if they are at all willing.
Matthew and I are already there.
Don't mean this as meanly as some of you will take it, but here is a discussion forbidden in the Collinsville Baptist Sunday School. Even so I confess and concede it may not be the primary function of Sunday School to have such straightforward conversation. Even so, Timothy George's insinuations about Paul Simmons were unconscionable.

From Newsweek:

And, the link

See the link and click on Balmer's latest reply to Land.

David Waters12:32 PM
Welcome to On Faith's second online debate.

David Waters12:34 PM
Today we're pleased to have On Faith panelists Randall Balmer and Richard Land. We'll get started at 1 p.m. Eastern time. Stay tuned.

David Waters1:00 PM
Welcome to On Faith's live online discussion between Randall Balmer and Richard Land. I'm David Waters, producer for On Faith. Randall Balmer is the Ann Whitney Olin professor of American religious history at Barnard College, Columbia University, and a visiting professor at Yale Divinity School. The “On Faith” panelist has written ten books, including Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America, which was made into a three-part documentary for PBS.

David Waters1:01 PM
Dr. Richard Land has served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission since 1988. During his tenure as a spokesperson for the largest Protestant denomination in the country, Dr. Land has represented Southern Baptist and other evangelicals’ concerns inside the halls of Congress, before U.S. presidents, and as a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. In 2005, Land was named one of “The Twenty-five Most Influential Evangelicals in America” by Time magazine.

David Waters1:01 PM
Welcome, gentlemen. Let's get started. Both of you have felt compelled in recent years to define and defend evangelicals. Why are modern evangelicals so misunderstood -- by evangelicals and by others? Dr. Land, you go first.

Richard Land1:07 PM
The first reason that Evangelicals are misunderstood is that so many of the people attempting to interpret them to the general public are not themselves Evangelicals, often don't know very many, if any Evangelicals, or are ex-Evangelicals and are still dealing with issues which led to their leaving the fold, so to speak. I'm not sure that Evangelicals have a great deal of misunderstanding about themselves. I know in the case of Southern Baptists, they see themselves as an overwhelmingly Evangelical and conservative Protestant denomination. For example, exit polls tell us that approximately four out of five Southern Baptists who identified themselves as such voted for President Bush in 2000 and 2004. Most of them would describe an Evangelical as someone who believes in the basic tenets of the Christian faith, has a high view of the authority of Scripture, and believes that the core of Christianity is a personal experience of accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

Randall Balmer1:08 PM
Richard, I agree with your definitions of "evangelical," and, like you, I am proud to call myself an evangelical -- even though our politics are rather different. I think one of the principal reasons that evangelicals are misunderstood is that many Americans falsely equate the actions and policies of the Religious Right with evangelicalism. Many people don't understand that there is a fairly well defined political left wing within evangelicalism, one that is personified by people like Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren and (if I may) myself, among many others. Problem is, none of us has a media empire like the leaders of the Religious Right: Falwell, Dobson, Roberston, et al. One of my tasks, and one that prompted me to write "Thy Kingdom Come," is to reclaim evangelical Christianity from the distortions of the Religious Right.

Richard Land1:16 PM
Randall, perspective is everything in this discussion, as in much else in life. Evangelicals are far more diverse and complex than they are portrayed by the media. It does Evangelicals a disservice to describe them as the Religious Right and the "left wing" of Evangelicalism. Evangelicals come in all gradations of the political spectrum with like people like Ron Sider, as well as the ones you mention, who lean to the left, many in the middle, and others who would lean to varying degress to the right. The media (present company excepted, of course) often get the most strident voices they can get on each side of an issue to yell at each other, and call that balanced journalism. One reason I have written my new book, The Divided States of America? What Liberals and Conservatives are Missing in the God-and-Country Shouting Match, is to help people understand that there's far less division in the country and among Evangelicals than in commonly assumed in media portrayals of them. My book is an equal-opportunity offender. For example, Jim Wallis and I are working together on the Evangelicals for Darfur campaign and I have worked with many "left-wing" Evangelicals on issues such as sex and human trafficking and human rights overseas.

Randall Balmer1:25 PM
Congratulations on the new book, Richard. I look forward to reading it. I'd probably agree that there is less division than is often represented, but still there are areas of real disagreement. While the leaders of the Religious Right insist that the defining moral issues of the day are abortion and same-sex unions, I happen to believe that the defining issues of our day are the morality of the war in Iraq and the Bush administration's use of torture against those it designates as "enemy combatants." Regarding the former, as you well know, there are centuries of thought and writing that go into defining what is or is not a just war: Is it a defensive war? Is the use of military force the last resort? Is there a reasonable chance of success? Is the amount of force used roughly proportional to the provocation? Have provisions been made, as much as possible, to protect civilians? No one has yet persuaded me that the war in Iraq meets any of these criteria? As for the use of torture, as I was writing "Thy Kingdom Come," I contacted eight Religious Right organizations with a simple query. Please send me, I asked, a copy of your organization's position on torture. I heard from only two -- both of whom defended the Bush administration's policies on torture. That's morally bankrupt, in my judgment.

Richard Land1:40 PM
Randall, I hope you enjoy my new book, which will be out the first week of April. You will find my criticism and deconstruction of Christian Reconstructionism quite interesting. One major reason the so-called Religious Right is characterized as being all about abortion and same-sex unions is because that's all the media often asks about or all they report on even when Evangelicals spend a good deal of time talking about many other issues. For instance, I wrote a book in 1992 called "The Earth is the Lord's," which lays out the biblical mandate for Christians to be involved in creation care, both individually and societally. I've also mentioned it more than casually in two of my last three books and yet, secular reporters seem endlessly surprised and want to know how come it took us so long to "discover" creation care. It's the media that's just discovered that we've been talking about it. Just yesterday, I gave testimony before Senator Kennedy's Health, Education, Labor & Pensions committee in support of the legislation co-sponored by Senators Kennedy and Cornyn that would put tobacco under the FDA and give the FDA authority to regulate it with the aim of protecting consumers, particularly minors. A correspondent from one of the three major networks wanted to know "when Evangelicals changed their views on tobacco and supported government regulation of it." Southern Baptist Convention has passed nearly two dozen resolutions against tobacco, calling for various measures to inhibit its use, beginning in 1932. In a 1984 resolution, we called upon Southern Baptist tobacco farmers to switch to other crops and called for an end to all goverment subsidies of tobacco. She was simply astounded. As you know, I supported the liberation of Iraq and I believe that the goals and purposes met just war standards, as did Michael Novak, among others. I'm also aware there were others who felt that it did not meet those agreed upon criteria. I have been extremely disappointed in many aspects of the prosecution of the war. We have made many mistakes with tragic consequences, both for our country and the Iraqis. Randall, I don't think you contacted us concerning our position on torture. If you did, I didn't receive that query. We adamently oppose torture and denounce it. However, I must add the caveat that terrorists who are not in uniform and are observing none of the rules of the Geneva Convention are not accorded all the protections of the Geneva Convention, which would entitle us to only ask for name, rank and serial number. We ought to at least to be able to interrogate terrorists as vigourously as we would interrogate a murder suspect in a New York or Chicago police station where we will certainly seek to ask for more than name, rank and serial number. However, lest I be misunderstood, I condemn torture and physical abuse of prisoners, no matter how heinous their crimes. We must never sink to the level of our enemies often barbarous behavior.

David Waters1:41 PM
One final question: This discussion really began several months ago in the pages of Newsweek, where both of you responded to Lisa Miller's article on "An Evangelical Identity Crisis." Is the crisis theological or merely political? Professor Balmer, you first.

Randall Balmer1:50 PM
Oh, it's absolutely a theological matter. The leaders of the Religious Right, in my judgment, have taken the gospel, the "good news" of Jesus, something I find lovely and redemptive and turned it into something ugly and punitive. The have defaulted on the noble legacy of 19th-century evangelical activism, which invariably took the part of those on the margins of society. I want to reclaim that prophetic voice for evangelicalism. I also think the leaders of the Religious Right are inconsistent. If you oppose abortion (as I do, in most instances), then it seems to me that your "pro-life" stand would carry a lot more moral authority if you were consistently "pro-life." I'm pleased to hear Richard talk about tobacco, which I regard as a "pro-life" matter, and I wish he were a bit less equivocal in his opposition to torture. But capital punishment also has to be on the table if you call yourself "pro-life" as well as the issue of poverty. I think the Religious Right would have a lot more moral authority if they were consistently "pro-life." One final point about abortion. By my reckoning, since February 1, 2006, with the swearing in of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court, until January 3, 2007, when the Democratic majorities took control of Congress, the Republican-Religious Right coalition had firm control of all three branches of the federal government. The chief executive, the majority leader in the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives all claimed to be evangelical Christians and implacably opposed to abortion. And yet – and yet! – this coalition, which has been braying about abortion since the late 1970s made no attempt whatsoever to outlaw abortion. Congress did, however, manage to pass a bill authorizing the use of torture against those the president designates as “enemy combatants,” but no attempt to outlaw abortion, their stated goal. I find that a bit curious, don’t you, Richard?

Richard Land2:10 PM
It always theological with Evangelicals. They are people of faith and they take their faith seriously. The modern Evangelical political movement, which is so often derided as the Religious Right, is a product of the abortion issue. I was a foot soldier and non-commissioned officer in the pro-life movement from the early 1970s onward. Most Evangelicals who were more pietistic than activist were driven into the political process, not so much by Roe v. Wade, as they were by the millions of abortions that began to take place almost immediately in Roe's wake. It was literally the flood tide of the blood of the innocence that drove them into a political process, most of them deeply mistrusted and viewed as worldly. Is it more complicated than that? Of course. It's always more complicated than that, but without the flood tide of abortions as the driving force, the Evangelical entry into politics on a massive scale would never have taken place. And, if the Republican party had not adopted a pro-life plank in its platform in 1980, Evangelicals and traditional pro-life Catholics, I believe, would have started a new pro-life party. I'll ignore the provocative and unfair description of "braying about abortion" and just say its disengenuous of you to say that pro-lifers had firm control of all three branches of the federal goverment from Feb. 1, 2006, to Jan 3, 2007. Even with Roberts and Alito, who would not be on the Supreme Court if it were not for pro-life involvement over the last two decades, with Kennedy still as the swing vote, about the best the pro-lifers can hope for is a decision upholding the ban on partial birth abortions, which is a start. It took the abolitionists a long time and pro-lifers are in this for the long haul. And speaking of defending those on the "margins of society," can anyone be more marginalized than being legally defined out of the human race, i.e. the approximately 49 million babies that have been aborted since 1973. Concerning capital punishment, I, like most Evangelicals, believe that human beings can do things to other human beings that are so heinous that they deserve to forfeit their lives when they are found guily beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of their peers. Romans 13:4 authorizes the use of lethal force by the divinely ordained civil magistrate to punish evil. If a society chooses to apply this option, then it must be as equally committed to its fair and equitable application. In our society, tragicallly, it has not been fairly and equitably applied. I will continue to support the fair and equitable punishment of heinous crimes with capital punishment. If the man in Florida is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of having abducted, raped, and buried alive the little 10-year-old girl in Florida, then he deserves to die. And that is pro-life. The vast majority of Evangelicals agree with my position on this issue. Being the majority doesn't make it right -- or wrong! But it is the majority. Randall, I'm sure you will continue to argue your position on these issues and I'll continue to argue mine, and the people will decide the nation's public policy since it is government of the people, by the people and for the people.

David Waters2:10 PM
We began with Dr. Land. Professor Balmer, you have the last word.

Randall Balmer2:20 PM
C'mon, Richard, you're a better historian than that. The Religious Right did not coalesce as a political movement in response to the 1973 Roe decision. The catalyst was a lower-court decision, Green v. Connally, which upheld the attempt on the part of the Internal Revenue Service to rescind the tax-exempt status of institutions that engaged in racial discrimination. Bob Jones University of South Carolina stood in the crosshairs of that decision, and that is what motivated evangelical leaders to become politically active; abortion was cobbled into the political agenda in the late 1970s, in preparation for the 1980 presidential campaign, and not in direct response to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Despite the labored efforts of the leaders of the Religious Right to style themselves as the "new abolitionists" in order to draw a moral parallel with the 19th-century evangelical opponents of slavery, the Religious Right organized as a political movement effectively to defend racial segregation. I've enjoyed this exchange, Richard, which lasted far longer than we'd planned. Today is my anniversary, and I'm going hiking with my wife!

David Waters2:21 PM
Thank you, gentlemen. Be sure to look for regular posts from Richard Land and Randall Balmer at On Faith at You can continue the discussion by posting your own comments. Thanks for joining us.