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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.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Baylor, Furman and the Upstate S.C. Tea Party

    Friends, this blog may not be Furman worthy on first draft but time compels me to post it right away. Please come back if at all interested next week as it may be refined and editted.

    I was shying away from the outburst but a confluence  of reports and events got me about to bust.
    One report was a religion news service story by Furman Grad David Gibson about conservative Christians using the theme of Exile to gain unwarranted attention. He even cited an An Atlantic Monthly piece in his roundup of stories on the theme. Ironically enough the Exile theme has more credibility in an anthology in which I will be published by U Tennessee Press in January, a series by Carl Kell, this one on the current generation of progressive Baptists displaced by the fundamentalist takeover.


     Furman poli sci proff  Brent Nelsen made a presentation on the Ukraine October First as part of Furman's downtown Greenville High Noon  presentations, a great effort of Furman in the Upstate community. My concern is he is a founding member of the PCA church of Jim Demint of the Upstate Tea Party and shares ideology with Trey Gowdy the Tea Party US Congressman from that district.

    Gowdy is a graduate of Baylor in the early 80s, as was Rand Paul. There was a grand chat today on NPR on Paul with Ryan Lizza about Lizza's current feature in the New Yorker.

   New Yorker does not say if they were acquainted there but they almost certainly traveled in the same Young Republican circles.

   Upshot is Paul at Baylor was progressive on abortion and evolution. Demint and Gowdy and FBC Sburg are not. And I would imagine current Furman Prez Elizabeth  Davis matriculating from Baylor administration; her views are more in line with Randall Balmer of Dartmouth who wrote a piece for Mother Jones in 04 on Baylor and Evolution and the Bible and recently had a bio on President Carter focussing on how Baptist fundamentalists that once threatened Furman hijacked the Presidency of Carter on the abortion issue and tax exemption for Bob Jones University over interracial dating.

     Upshot is to paraphrase the gubernatorial candidate in Oh Brother Where Art Thou, Gowdy, Demint  and their Tea Party fundamentalism with a wink by Billy Graham is not my culture and heritage.

    Ryan Lizza did a piece on Roger Milliken in New Republic in 1999. It was fascinating. Furman sources tell me Millken tried to place the Christian Reconstructionist Gary North on Furman faculty in 73 or so. Furman was nice enough to show North the campus and the front gate; not to say the front gate wasn't an option for me on a couple occasions when I was there.

    Long story short, lot of folks who side with right wing have been students at Furman over the years. Over the years  Some  children of very prominent players associated with the right and religious right were students  including the 2014 grad Lauren Cooley from Billy Graham's grandson's church in Ft Lauderdale Florida;  Nixon's Southern Strategist Harry Dent's Daughter, Dolly; Lee Atwater's daughter, Salley; Even this year very conservative southern forces are represented at Furman,  family and extended family of politicians hardwired to the Tea Party and American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC--google New Racism, New Republic, ALEC in NY Times, Jan this year, and the conversation just today on ALEC at

   I'm fine they were at Furman, in fact I have an ongoing exchange with Dolly's sister Ginny who rose to some prominence in the SBC after the takeover. And I think Dr. Nelsen is good for the conversation at Furman. I witnessed an exchange between him and the Knight of the Religion Department Albert Blackwell in a High Noon exchange in 2010.

     Bottom line is tribalism in Ukraine in some ways is comparable to Upstate S.C. Tea Party if I understand Wahalla novelist Mark Powell, and Emory's Joe Crespino.  There are analogies to the legacy of Strom Thurmond and the Tea Party mindset to Putin heavy handedness in the Ukraine. And I wish I had been at the High Noon presentation with Nelsen yesterday to explore that notion.

   Of course for the conversation to make sense, Furman would have to do the background reading with Crespino, Powell, Lizza, New Republic's Jason Zengerle, Molly Worthen's Apostles of Reason, and Giberson and Stephen's The Anointed as syllabus.

    At a minimum I hope Furman has Crespino and Powell on campus this coming spring in a much publicized event and there is a community read worthy of their presence. 
    And here is most recent national coverage of my concern, one that goes to the heart of assertions I have been making for 30 years now:



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