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Born May 18, 1953; got saved at Truett Memorial BC in Hayesville, NC 1959. On rigged ballot which I did not rig got Most Intellectual class of 71, Gaffney High School. Furman Grad, Sociology major but it was little tougher than Auburn football players had Had three dates with beautiful women the summer of 1978. Did not marry any of em. Never married anybody cause what was available was undesirable and what was desirable was unaffordable. Unlucky in love as they say and even still it is sometimes heartbreaking. Had a Pakistani Jr. Davis Cupper on the Ropes the summer of 84, City Courts, Rome Georgia I've a baby sitter, watched peoples homes while they were away on Vacation. Freelance writer, local consultant, screenwriter, and the best damn substitute teacher of Floyd County Georgia in mid 80's according to an anonymous kid passed me on main street a few years later when I went back to get a sandwich at Schroeders. Had some good moments in Collinsville as well. Ask Casey Mattox at if he will be honest about it. I try my best to make it to Bridges BBQ in Shelby NC at least four times a year.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Saint Dorothy Day, Rome Ga and Furman thoughts

     Gonna lump a couple of loosely connected themes together here because the Trump administration and its reverberations are thick and cloudy but these things are playing out.

     On Sunday Furman Religion faculty will hold an afternoon seminar at FBC Greenville on the Old and New Testament and Donald Trump. I remember when Carlyle Marney came to Furman campus the winter of 74 or 75 to talk about Watergate using an Old Testament text. It was about the profoundest thing I'd ever heard in my 20 something short years. I tried to compose a polysyllabled word thick question to ask him and his reply was, "Hell son, if you don't know by now, you'll probably never know."

   But I had a sense of the timelessness of Scripture and speaking to power, being transcendant over political thickets stronger than ever before to that point.

    My conundrum is if Marney knew everything he knew then and there were hundreds of just Baptists and a few Willimon Methodists that understood it much better than my inklings, how did we get to the Lee Atwater, Jim Demint, Paul Pressler Freedom Caucus Steve Bannon alt right moment of Donald Trump.

    Makes no damn sense.

    But Furman people are on the case in Upstate SC. I hope they make reference to some of my links here on this blog this last half year and get right down to the real Nitty Gritty. I have to believe that between Furman Wofford and Converse in Upstate SC. somebody can unseat Trey Gowdy which would be a helluva a sensible start.

    There is a world of difference between Furman Religion faculty and Trey Gowdy and Tony Beam's Truth for a New Generation conferences at FBC Spartanburg; and to paraphrase Joe Cocker, "It's High time (he, Trey Gowdy) Went."

    And this update from over the weekend of March 24. Booktv had a stellar panel re the new book the Benedict Option. Russ Moore of the SBC and his troubles with fundamentalists even further to his right was invoked twice. And the author made reference to JD Vance and Hillbilly Elegy though he failed to discuss the better book Hochschild's Strangers in their Own Land. For too long white working class vote has been the devils playground for demagogues like Lee Atwater, Adrian Rogers, Steve Bannon and as Ted Koppel rightly named on 60 Minutes, Sean Hannity. Hochschild says Oil is the new Cotton in Trump's Plantation Economy.

      On to Dorothy Day. Her father or the father of her first child was from Asheville NC and some branch of the ancestry came from the vicinity of Rome Ga. Day is mostly thought of as a product of Chicago.

     I'm on the trail of reading the new biography of her granddaughter asap after a fascinating interview yesterday on NPR Fresh Air

     Do click on transcript. Toward the end Ms Hennessey said her Mother, the only child of Day said about her husband with whom they had nine children could only be understood by careful consideration of three books.

     Pat Conroy's The Great Santini

      Arthur Miller's book on his romance with Marilynne Monroe

     And Nabokov's Lolita.

     How an aspect of Dorothy Day, soon to be a Catholic Saint gets intertwined with that collection is a great enchanting mystery of the faith. But I'm in for this exploration.

   Furman great Marshall Frady had insight in 2002 with his Penguin series bio of Martin Luther King. From that introduction

      But we have not yet learned to accommodate in our understanding of such figures what the ancient seers, Sophocles and the King David Chronicler and Shakespeare and Cervantes, knew--that while evil can wear the most civil and sensible and respectably rectitudinous demeanor, good can seem blunderbous and uncertain, shockingly wayward, woefully flawed, like one of Graham Greene's dissolute, shabby, God-haunted saints. And what the full bodied reality of Martin Luther King should finally tell us, beyond all the awe and celebration of him, is how mysteriously mixed, in what torturously complicated forms, our moral heroes--our prophets--actually come to us.

    Had a good chat few days ago with devout Polish Catholic truck Driver from Near Detroit. He's seen the movie Ida which my nephew Andrew will see soon. Will enhance our next conversation, this new bio of Day.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Furman, Finebaum and Greenville SC Madness Regional

    A lot was made over the weekend about South Carolina Gamecocks last appearance in the NCAA tourney was in 1973. Alex English of that team was in the crowd  in Greenville SC and they showed him several times.

    I called the Paul Finebaum show yesterday and told Paul the reason Brian Winters, Mike Dunleavy and Alex English didn't go back in 74 was Because Clyde Mayes, Bruce Grimm, Gary Clarke and other Furman Paladins beat them in the East Regional that year.

   Furman had the Big F emblem in the top right corner of your screen all weekend as a co sponsor of the Greenville Regional. But of the many mentions of Gamecocks in 73, nobody mentioned Furman in 74, least I didn't hear em.

   I was trying to tell Finebaum to take it up with Ryan McGhee his ESPN colleague whose Dad worked in marketing at Furman in the 80s but Finebaum cut me off. I don't think it was as much disrespect as he keeps his show moving on whim. At least he gave me a little oxygen with Greg McElroy when I called to talk about the Bear and George Wallace in 2012

   I checked all this out with my Freshman hallmate at Furman Clyde Mayes.  Mayes played in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Furman Bonhomie is true, Furman beat them that year and advanced to play Providence.

    It was in the days when Joe Williams came to Furman from Jacksonsville Florida on heels of taking Artis Gilmore who had played at Gardner Webb to the National Championship.

   It was Furman glory days and I was there in the stands at the Old Memorial Colliseum to take much of it in.

     The Gamecocks had a second half for the ages. I do think Duke could beat them 3 of 5 games but the Cocks won the one that counted this year.  Bad call on Kennard for the fifth foul but it was Carolina's half and they deserved the win. All Hail and Glory to them and best of luck the rest of the way.

    But next year, if it comes around again, let's give Furman its due in Gamecock Roundball History.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Baylor Searches for New President.

      I'm sure Baylor will do fine without my input in search for New President; lessons learned from experience with Ken Starr.

   But I did read a piece from a Jonathan Sitkberg recently in Christian Ethics Today. The nephew of Cecil Sherman is on track to be a voice for his generation telling the truth of the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention.

  Sberg, a Baylor senior is student member of the Search Committee. With what he knows already, Sberg should bone up and make sure the screening of the New President is well aware of how tied up the leadership of the Takeover was to the residues of the John Birch Society and White Citizens Council. Baylor's new President should have a working conversational knowledge of Robert Wuthnow's Rough Country about how Texas Baptist fundamentalism shaped the GOP these last 30 years and laid the groundwork for this Trump era.

    Sberg in his tribute history to his Uncle Cecil missed a key point the Baylor search committee should be well aware of. Cecil Sherman told me in 1993 Bill Friday, the former chancellor of the UNC system told him the most significant event in North Carolina in the 1980s was the fundamentalist takeover of the Baptist seminary in the town of Wake Forest. Cause Pressler's Bircher network and the last holdout against ML King Holiday, NC's Lost Cause Senator Jesse Helms knew that in the seminary they could get into the headset of every pulpit in every hamlet and suburb in North Carolina and beyond.

   Baylor is much more than a Baptist institution and all the provincialism historically that implies. But as the Congregationalist and Pulitzer winner Marilynne Robinson explains in her Chapter Memory in the collection the Givenness of Things: It Matters!

   Do the background reading in this process cause like The Who, You Don't Want to Get Fooled Again.

    Talk it over with Chet Edwards. Make a good Hire.

    And take up this conversation with me on the Poage Library Facebook wall.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Russ Moore's Baptist Chickens Coming Home to Roost

   In last two days  Southern Baptists faux ethics man Russ Moore has been the subject of exhaustive drama in the Wash Post and The Atlantic Magazine.

    Moore is no martyr in my book. He came to power knowing full well the Birch Society and White Citizens Council residue of Paul Pressler, Paige Patterson Jesse Helms and Birmingham Alabama's Albert Lee Smith

   In fact I attended an Inquisition of Samford President Tom Corts in 1993 orchestrated by folks Moore was then in concert with but now  seek his ouster, Steve Gaines chief among them now President of the Southern Baptist Convention.

   And Frank Page on any given day a decent man but whose Baptist politics are dimwitted to say the least, had in his backyard in Greer South Carolina the politics of Tony Beam, radio talk show host, and Trey Gowdy's Truth for a new Generation Conferences at FBC Spartanburg.

   In Alabama, Baptist leadership is struck mute by the antics of talk show guru Rick Burgess and his network with Cliff Simms of Yellowhammer News, Simms now in the Bannon communications Department in Trump's White House.

   Burgess had a dustup with Moore on Trump's behalf live on air back in the summer. If you want to know what the fundamentalist world of Moore and Trump has come to in microcosm come to Alabama and do a profile of Burgess, Simms Yellowhammer News and Crawford Broadcasting and their network in the bloodstream of Church of Brook Hills, Church of the Highlands and FBC Gardendale, Gaines old haunt.

    Breitbart on steroids, False Narratives maxxed out in Atty General Sessions home state in the lifeblood of Bama Baps.

     See Auburn PHD Bruce Gourley False Narratives piece in the Winter issue of Christian Ethics Today. Read the two links at the end of my Barnum blog here at this site.

       One of Moore's targets in the 90s was my friend Bham Novelist Vicki Covington. Of all things she wrote a piece once for the Bham News that featured my Dad's first cousin Max Helton, chaplain to Nascar at the funeral for one of the Allisons in a Talledega tragedy.

   Vicki is in Lubbock Texas now. Her then husband Dennis Covington was auther of the Book Salvation on Sand Mtn about the snake Handlers.

   Russ Moore took up serpents with Pressler and the Birchers. And Now to Jump barnyard metaphors with that great theologian Jeremiah Wright: "The Chickens are Coming Home to Roost!"

Friday, March 10, 2017

Gaffney's LJ Peak on Fire in Madison Square Garden

   Gaffney's LJ Peak was on fire in the second half of the Big East Tourney Wednesday night against St Johns and the Legendary Chris Mullin. Allen Iverson was in the crowd and Peak was at the center of some flaring tempers after a hard foul by a Big from Croatia or thereabouts.

    Here is an iconic photo in the making

    The son of famed Patrick Ewing had Peak's back. Ewing was coached in High School by Collinsville Alabama's Charlie Hood a legendary guard of the 60s at Berry College in Rome Ga.
   Charlie has a brother who stayed home and became something of a local legend but most of those stories Ive only heard second hand as yet to crack the Code of The Shed.

    But back to things that matter. Small Town worlds collide in big arenas on occasion and Wednesday night was just sucha one. Peak had 22 of his 24 points in the second half. With about four seconds to go John Thompson the II  called time out. The cameras stayed on. Peak who just a few minutes before had stared down a very angry Chris Mullin was now JayTees son. Clearly the next play was about him as Thompson patted Peak on the chest as if to say this is your play.

    The ball came inbound to Peak and he dashed around the right side of the fowl line toward the goal for a layup that didn't connect. The Bigs of the Hoyas crashed and there was a feeble rebound attempt, but it missed and the game was over.

   Peak appeared heartbroken, maybe weeping as his back was turned to the exiting Hoyas. He left it all out there.

    Maybe the biggest effort on the biggest stage of any Gaffney Athlete, up there with Sidney Rice's several receptions from Brett Favre in the quarterfinals headed toward the Superbowl with the Vikings a few years ago; and or Charles Foster's showdown with Guy Drut in the 76 High hurdles, Montreal Olympics.

    If I can speak for Gaffney on this one, Peak made us all very proud Wednesday night.

    Afterthought, I don't know if the Hoyas are up for the NIT or not but if they play Bama and Wormy Norris's Grandson off Lookout Mtn, I'll be watching.

Friday, March 03, 2017

U bama Honors Programs; Suggestions

  In the genre of its a relatively small world I found out earlier this week my first cousins neighbor in Alaska will be coming to Tuscaloosa this fall. National Merit Scholar she will be awarded the full monty package with amenities including the Honors Dorm. I understand she will be an engineering major with a minor or interest in Theatre.

    I have said before and told many kids in Collinsville obsessed with the Tide that I am disappointed in many Capstone products now staffing the Bama Congressional Delegation in DC. 80 percent don't know who Judge Frank Johnson was much less tell you his significance.

    To that end here are some suggestions for the best and the brightest and those Bama grads who need to learn a little.

    1. Get a copy of my friend Sam Hodges For the Love of Alabama. Jackson Giles and Judge Frank Johnson are in there and no excuses for not knowing. Bama Grad Howell Raines said Johnson was one of the two greatest men to breathe the air of Alabama in the 20th Century. And my friend Bill Moyers said had Judge Frank Johnson lived during the Civil War he woulda been Abraham Lincoln and had Lincoln lived in Alabama in the 1960s he woulda been Judge Frank Johnson.

   2. Get a copy of Taylor Branch's The King Years, the condensation of his 1,000 page Pulitzer winner on the Civil Rights era.

    3. Visit Lowndes County Alabama to see where Jonathan Daniels was assassinated, the only American Christian martyr of the 20th Century honored in London in the offices of the Anglican church.

    4. Walk across the Selma Bridge at least once. I met several U Bama students there in 2012 when I crossed with a Muslim friend and Ethel Kennedy.

    5. Read my blog on Greg McElroy, Paul Finebaum, Bear Bryant, Wallace and Nick Saban.

     6. In Bham go to the Fish Market on 31. Go North at the Galleria exit on 459 and if you like it next time eat at the one downtime.

    7. Google Rick Bragg's story in Southern Living , A Goat and a Ball Peen Hammer about the Collinsville Trade Day. It closes before noon so come early. I will meet you there and introduce you to some characters and we can go Dutch at Bill Glenn's Mtn Grill Restaurant on 68 if Bill will take care of at least two visits from me not more than 15 dollar bill cause I deserve it for all the promotion I have done for his exquisite potato soup and respectable ribs, in a wholesome clean Christian Sweet Tea Environment.

    8. Take an elective in Stephen Black's ethics course. Hugo Black's grandson, Stephen at my invitation spoke to Momma's alma mater here in Collinsville in 2006

    9. Visit the Civil Rights Memorial plaza in Birmingham including the 16th Street Baptist Church and become acquainted with Bryan Stevenson's Equal Justice Initiative.

    10 If you do all these things, then with honor you can say Roll Tide.

    11 A. By all means when your parents come to visit take them to Dream Land in Tuscaloosa to Remember the Bear at his finest, and if they want a second opinion next visit find them a Jim and Nicks or some Johnny Ray's chocolate pie. JRay's aint what it used to be but still worth a shot at the pie.

   11. Come back to this blog in every month this year and then annually years following for more suggestions.