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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.

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 age—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.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Mike Hubbard, His Rube Supe, and the Movie Selma

  I have a milder and shorter version of this effort in the Hopper for the Ft Payne Bama Times Journal to publish. I hope they do.

   Here is one of my earlier offerings when I was fuming:

   The editors
           In the following days I plan to let loose several chock full of righteious indignation over  the matter of the Collinsville Studnets and the movie Selma. My intention is to make Dekalb County school superintendent Hugh Taylor, as well as Bama house Speaker Mike Hubbard and his wife Susan punch drunk over the Tea Party wave Hubbard orchestrated that placed a rube like Taylor in office. 
    My Dad was a Baptist preacher, so I'm gonna preach to Hubbard, Taylor and company about insights on  the Gospel and the Civil Rights era they missed. For it is obvious the sermons Taylor's wife whispers to him, and the ones he hears at Warren's Graveyard Baptist church are inadequate for his 120,00 dollar salary.
      And  Theoverrding themes of the Gospel  are  obvisouly not connecting at FUMC in Auburn for Mike Hubbard and his Advising wife Susan as well.
     This whole cabal is intense for me as Hubbard's son Clayte is a freshman at my alma mater, Furman, in Greenville S.C. There is a great chasm from what I learned at Furman and the direction they sent me, from the provincial minds of Hugh Taylor and Mike Hubbard.
    Marshall Frady, one of the greatest journalists of the last half of the 20th Century was a Baptist Preacher's son and a 1963 grad of Furman, Just a few months after the Selma march he was covering a trial in Lowndes County, Alabama on the murcer of the Episcopalian priest Jonathan Daniels for Newsweek. He wrotea Faulknerian piece that could have just as easily described Taylor and his wife's ancestry on Sand Mtn, the same mindset that Taylor brought by his DNA to the Collinsville students in his denial to let them see an Oscar nominated movie on school time:  ""Instead (of justice) what was really under way was the performance of a kind of unspoken folk rite--a commemoration and sanctification and reaffirmation of Coleman's act (the murder of Daniels), but the whole communal mythology to which it had answered."
    As for the movie Selma the New Yorker had a great online reivew up Dec 22, plenty of time for Hugh Taylor to see had he looked past some sophomoric site mostl likely his wife suggested to him; here is what the New Yorker said: "  This is cinema, more rhetorical, spectacular, and stirring than cable-TV drama: again and again, DuVernay’s camera (Bradford Young did the cinematography) tracks behind characters as they march, or gentles toward them as they approach, receiving them with a friendly hand. At one point during the first march, the camera slowly rises and peers over a massive beam on the Edmund Pettus Bridge as hundreds of people advance across it. When Alabama state troopers release tear gas and charge on horseback, attacking the marchers with clubs and whips, the screen goes white from the gas, as if shrouded in terror, and the camera hurtles past marchers scrambling to get off the bridge. Many are injured, including the activist Annie Lee Cooper (Oprah Winfrey). The episode, which took place on March 7, 1965—Bloody Sunday—invokes the tumultuous crowd scenes from silent Soviet classics by Eisenstein and Pudovkin. During the clashes in the White House, however, DuVernay lets the words and the actors carry the meaning. The reliably impressive Tom Wilkinson recalls, without the slightest exaggeration, L.B.J.’s looming head and neck, his heavy hands, his easy way with profanity. The icy confrontation between Johnson and Wallace—whom Roth plays as sarcastic and wily, with a lizard smile—is a minor classic in itself. Historical irony abounds in bio-pic land: our unique American heritage exists onscreen courtesy of talented British actors.
DuVernay’s timing couldn’t be more relevant. Next year marks the fiftieth anniversary of both the Selma marches and the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court overturned a key provision of the act last year, and Republican legislatures across the country have been deploying new voter-I.D. laws. Faced with all that—and with the recent turmoil in Ferguson, Cleveland, and New York—King would have noticed how far we have yet to go, shaken his head, and set to work..

  End Quote
     And for endorsements closer to me and  an enlightened Christian perspective there are several ways to go. Becky Kennedy is a native of Collinsville on the chaplaincy staff at Baylor U in Texas. Her Colleague on religion faculty there, Courtney Pace Lyons,  had a great piece on the Selma the movie Jan 20 at the site you can easily google. My sister took her youth Sunday School class Monday Jan 19 in Easley South Carolina. My first cousin's daughter, a Sand Mtn native and seminary graduate saw the movie with her husband. Dixie said she would have no problem her four children seeing the film when they are in tenth grade. My father was a Baptist minister as was Dixie's grandfather.  I have talked to several Collinsville grads of many colors whose Christian pilgrimage has taken them further than memorizing John 3:16--a good verse by the way--who champion this film and this rare educational moment. I have a great affection for many of these children of browner hues than Mr Taylor and his family some of whose test scores and character hold great promise. If Mr Taylor can't raise the expectations, champion intellectual curiousity and and exploration, he should get out of the way.  For 100,000 dollars a year and a good pension these kids deserve more than a small time jock trying to find himself. And maybe some of the school board as well should raise their horizons.  Don't experiment on this great diverse community in Collinsville.
      I have done my best to bring attention to Mr Taylor at the Auburn University Living Democracy Project. For Two years they have had a presence in Collinsvlle and Selma and 7 or so other small towns across the state.  Conversations are ongoing to have Isabel Wilkerson come to Collinsville during Black History MOnth; Isabel the first black woman to win the National Book Award for History, with roots at the Thankful Baptist Church in Rome, Georgia, two blocks from where my parents were married in 49. And, there is a great chance President Obama will mention Selma when he speaks there March 7.
     It wouldn't hurt Mike Hubbard and the Bama house, Hugh Taylor and the Central Office to take the month of February, Black History Month and do a little remedial reading. Ironically an Iranian woman, Azar Nafisi, in her new book on The Republic of Imagination, has a better grasp on the greatness of America, understands real patriotism better than Hubbard and Taylor. In the beautiful introduction to her new book she writes that America was born in sin, in the taking of Indan lands and the installment of slavery. But it's redemption was in the living breathing Constitution. It was in later "generations who questioned and subverted the conditions of the founding documents"  who are still perfecting the Dream of America's Imagination.  America's  promise is still being perfected in the experience of suffrage, and the insights of Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglas, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.  Alabama's great Judge Frank Johnson who has a majestic scene in the movie Selma standing up to George Wallace's smart-ass lawyers places him as in the incarnation of Atticus Finch himself in the pantheon of the greatest Americans.
     So take your children to see Selma,  find The Republic of Imagination. Buy some copies for the library of Cornerstone Christian School and Collinsville Public School. Get a few of my friend Sam Hodge's For the Love of Alabama as well. Make some lemonade out of the lemons Taylor and Hubbard.
    God Bless America and the the great contributions Martin Luther King, Judge Frank Johnson, Rosa Parks, the Civil Rights marchers and now the Collinsville History Club are making to it in spite of Hubbard and Taylor.
    Stephen M. Fox

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Selma and The Auburn Creed

    Tea Party REpublican and Baptist fundamentalist hugh Taylor was swept into the Dekalb County School Supe's office by the Bleaching strategies of Bama House Speaker Mike Hubbard. See New Racism, New Republic article by Jason Zengerle.  
    In a few days I will post a lengthy column I've submitted to a Bama paper on the national brouhaha Supe Taylor caused by denying the students at Collinsville High School the privilige of seeing the Oscar nominated movie Selma on School time.
      The Auburn Creed in about section 7 says this and I quote:  I believe in my Country, because it is a land of freedom and because it is my own home, and that I can best serve that country by "doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God." 
     Mike Hubbard has some shortcomings with the Auburn Creed, and if he doesn't he should welcome a chance to talk about the New Republic article in Montgomery with Auburn Grad Cynthia Tucker and the first black woman to win the National Book award for non-fiction, Isabel Wilkerson.
    Auburn University Democracy Project has networks in Collinsville and Selma and 7 other small towns across Alabama. Recently they spolighted a recent grad, Lowery McNeal who was an extra on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.
     Mike Hubbard's son Clayte is a Freshman at Furman. I graduated from there in the mid 70s. As I say in my soon to be released letter, somebody has some explainin to do.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Jesse Helms now 2 for Three in the Minus column of Westminster Abbey

      At the Southern Baptist Convention of 1990 in New Orleans I hit the microphone to shine some light on the connectins of Paul Pressler and Jesse Helms and their collusion in the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Pressler was outraged and confronted me later in the bowels of the stadium where the Saints Play.

      Joe Ferguson, Chandler Davidson, Bill Moyers and Ellen Rosenberg have all written about how Helms andPaul Pressler were on the same page in the travesty of the last years of the Baptist life. And now Robert Wuthnow in Rough Country has made the case even stgronger.
     Many moderate Baptists of the 50s and 60s have things to explain about the Civil Rights era, but the leadership of the fundamentalist faction was hardwired to the wrong side. Birchers, folks in concert with the White Citizens Council, that was the stuff the leadership of the takeover came from, from leading deacons and forces in the churches of Adrian Rogers and Jerry Vines, Nelson Price and W.A. Criswell to dimwitted go alongs and massagers like Ed Young.
    Ferguson has a chapter Red White and BLue Bible in his book on Helms naming names and connecting the dots of Helms to Pressler's crusade.
      Now Pope Francis has announced El Salvador's Oscar Romero is on the Road to Sainthood. The New Republic of April 1985 says Helms was in concert with the Death Squads Roberto Daubuisson, a man who sat in a room and drew straws for the "privilege" of assassinating Romero.
     There are three men in Bust in Westminster Abbey, Greatest Christian Saints of the Twentieth Century: Martin King, Romero, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Helms called King a Communist and worse, opposed a celebration of his birthday till the day he died. Romeor I've just explained. And were Helms with us today he would be distoring the legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer like the Tea Party apologist Eric Metaxas.
      So Let's have the SBC be honest about the leadership of the Takeover as many of them now explain the movie Selma to their children and grandc hildren.