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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.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A friend in the Bush White House

        Eric Motley drops in on Maya Angelou a few years before she passed away in Greensboro NC at Wake Forest.  He falls on his knees in honor and wonder at getting to meet in the flesh this great Poet, American icon. She says, get up son, none of us who have survived Montgomery, bow to anybody. Story will bring tears to your eyes. Google it at Huffington Post.

     So When a friend called a month ago to tell me Eric had just left Birmingham after a book signing of his new memoir, I was already pretty much all in.

      I've never met Eric Motley but I feel like I know him well. We recently became facebook friends. He is a great friend of mutual friends Todd and Brad Heifner through days at Samford University and we both held the late President Tom Corts in highest esteem. Eric as good friend of my cousin Wendy Skelton  Whitley gave my Dad's sister Juanita a personal tour of the White House late in the Bush 43 administration.

     And though Motley's coming of age story is a good 20 years after mine, his wondrous story of development in a strong caring black community just north of Montgomery, Madison Park, mirrors many of the stories I heard from my friends of color in the first years of integration, late 60s, early 70s in Gaffney South Carolina.

     Motley's new book is blurb endorsed by folks across the spectrum from Laura Bush to Henry Louis Gates to Stephen Carter and the head of the Aspen Institute for which Eric now works, Walter Isaacson.

     This review will have a second part with reservations about the evolution of the Bush dynasty, the presidential family that landed Motley with the Aspen Institute, but this first round will resist hagiography with glowing, sincere promotion of this magnificent success story of a black man from the deep south.

      Motley had a caring community and a bicycle. Naturally he ingratiated himself to older folks in the community and before long women had made him the DUK, the Designated University Kid. They singled him out for books cause that was his inclination and special instruction. A white elementary school teacher Mrs. Mayes saw his gifts and carted him all over Central Alabama for public speaking contests. He came by piano and voice naturally.

    A few chapters later, still about twelve years old young Motley is in the downtown Montgomery Library on a Saturday afternoon for his twice monthly hour that usually turns into ninety minutes visit while his grandfather waits in the parking lot. In one scene it's like the third generation sequel to Miss Jane Pittman, he looks over and sees an aging man in a wheelchair reading. Governor George Wallace and young Motley make eye contact before closing hour.

     You can't make this stuff up.

       At Samford President Tom Corts took him under his wing. Corts is a special story in his own right. Handsome fellow what you think a President of a Baptist college should look like the last quarter of the 20th Century he always spoke to my Dad by name and they talked about their mutual acquaintance from Wingate in NC, Everett Chapman who was gifted in the pulpit.

     When Motley was a freshman at Samford spring of 93 , in my 40th year I attended an Inquistion of Corts by leftover Birchers and their friends. It was like the first cousin of Judge Frank Johnson or a great grandson of Abraham Lincoln was on trial by this near 1,000 member mob of Baptist preachers. More about that in the 2nd installment of this review.

   Gotta say now Corts at one point when Samford was in the throes of the Baptist fundamentalist fight on liberal arts and everything else they could spin as liberal; Corts thought I had planted a provocative piece in the Wall St. Journal. Was not me but wish I coulda claimed that on my resume.

     Motley leaves Samford, Birmingham and Bama in 96 and goes to Scotland to Study. From there he gets a big thumbs up from the Tutweilers of Alabama and next thing he knows he's in the Bush 43 White House.

   And from there to the Aspen Institute where he is now.

   This is a remarkable story. Luck and the fates have been with Motley thus far but he brought a lot to the table, and as his theme, his testimony shouts out, it was a community in Madison Park Alabama who didn't believe what Jim Crow told them about themselves, but like the themes in Paul Harvey's Moses, Jesus and the Trickster, gave at least one 1990s member of the talented tenth the confidence and determination to find a way out to dance on the Big Stage.

     I called Gaffney High School the day I got my copy of this book, a few days after emotional reads from my friend Todd Heifner on the phone. I told them to get this book for the HS library and have the Honors History students read it. Cause my great friends the third year of integration in 1971, in the yearbook where I have my proudest picture with soon to be Montreal Olympian Charles Foster, the father of the BEST consensus MLB player first decade of the 21st Century, Grady Sizemore Jr; the daughter of the doctor for whom the legendary football field is named--and it is legendary; we didn't do our moment in the South's great drama without unspoken hopes folks like Eric Motley would some come along after us.

    And he did.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Catholic Chris Cuomo fails to examine Roy Moore's threat to Nick Saban

      A couple days ago  NY Governor Andrew Cuomo's brother Chris, the sons of Mario Cuomo America's best Catholic hope since John F Kennedy, interviewed the fake shallow Andrea Lindenberg of Bama Talk radio about the spiritual aspects of Roy Moore's campaign. He was talking to a Jezebel and didn't know it. Ms Lindenberg a near classmate of Clemson Tigers Dabo Swinney at Pelham HS in Bama about 87 or so was recent Bircher girl on WYDE Crawford Broadcasting hardwired to yellowhammer News. She is part of the fundamentalist Baptist Church of the Highlands and Brook Hills network with14 campuses. Her guru at Crawford Broadcasting was Yellowhammer New founder  Cliff Simms, now in the Trump White House.

   At WYDE she was promoted by their current Queen of Snark, Jessica. Every day those two  "Christian" communicators paired they giggled and laughed dying to see who was gonna  be the first to  imply Hillary Clinton was a  skank just shy of a whore.

    That's what kind of Christian snake pit Chris Cuomo was embedded with for a bout 7 minutes on CNN.

   Here is the transcript

   They didn't talk about the "mendacity" of the politics of abortion Lindenberg and her network with Jessica and Yellowhammer have artfully mastered. --google stansell, New Republic, Holy War. Read concluding paragraphs prayerfully.

   Nobody mentioned the threat to Nick Saban's St Francis Catholic Church, the Know Nothing threat Roy Moore and his fundy Baptist voters incarnate. Cuomo didn't do his homework.

   Instead of the Gadsden Mall, Cuomo, Bama's Joe Scarborough; all of em should bone up on Randall Balmer's piece in the Wash Post Nov 19 where he called Roy Moore a con artist on church state issues, an illegitimate Bastard Baptist far from the authentic tradition of George W. Truett, Judge Frank Johnson and Hugo Black.

   Here is what Roy Moore is about. Is this what Rick Lance is about, Phil Williams, Will Ainsworth? Can Mr. Federico, the face of Guntersville FUMC talk about this or his ultimate allegiance to the dark money politics of the NRA?

    See my previous blog on Frances Fitzgerald and Christian Reconstructionism. See my blogs on how Bama Babbdists Rick Lance Ex Dir has been struck mute, dropped the ball in the face of all this.

     Roy Moore is a Know Nothing. Lincoln and Frank Johnson woulda been talking about it long time before the rest of the world discovered the Gadsden Mall. Roy Moore's David Barton religion, the kind he shares with Will Ainsworth and Trey Gowdy seeks a preference of fundamentalism of Jimmy Swaggart and Jerry Falwell, Steven Hotze and the Bircher Albert Lee Smith and the Southern Baptist takeover artist Paul Pressler.

   As such they are a threat to Nick Saban, the St Francis Catholic Church, The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the United Methodist church of Willimon and Debra Wallace Padgett though they may have a friend in Mr. Federico of Guntersville; and they are a threat to what little remains of the harmony in SEC Football.

   Bama shoulda learned this from JFK's speech to the Houston Baptists in the fall of 1960 or what is a Legend Like Richard Shelby like and how much longer can he brag about the Honors program at UBama if they don't know anything or are struck mute and intimidated by all the Babbdisssed fundies in the state.

   In Feb of 2002  Collinsvile Baptist Church was warned about the right wing aspects of the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC Randall Balmer referenced in his Wash Post opinion piece last Sunday. One influential educator deacon in the region asked Why Bring it here? Maybe now he has a clue. Jared Sexton can help him.

      Roy Moore is a threat to Atticus Finch, Harper Lee, the Honors Program at U Bama, Maria Moreno's diploma at Collinsville High School, even the Study Club's cakewalk at Turkey Trot and the legacy of Rucker Agee and the Wildly Flapping Gobblers.

   Wake up Cuomo's. Wake Up Bama. Tide Can't roll unless we stock up on a better brand of authentic Christian integrity.

   Read what Eugene Robinson said about you today in the Wash Post. Tell Charles Barkley's statue today outside the Iron Bowl. Tell Guz Malzahn and his preacher friend in Arkansas Ronnie Floyd, the Alt right Babdist. Hell tell some damn body.

   Google Randall Balmer, Wash Post, con artist Moore. National News should have him on all the talk show programs between now and Dec 12.

   He has been three times guest lecturer at Samford in Bham last 17 years, and I am proud to say under my "agency", his word, a guest at Furman a few years ago.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Texas Baptists and what would Bonhoeffer say to NRA Leadership

      Yesterday I called the DC office of Baylor Grad Trey Gowdy and asked What would Bonhoeffer say to the Leadership of the NRA given the massacre of the preacher's daughter in Texas Sunday and 27 of the fellow congregation. Then I called the President's office of my alma mater, Furman--coincidentally she was contemporary of Gowdy at Baylor--then the Dean's office of the Wake Forest Div School. I am going to notify the Baptist house of Studies at Duke, and Carson Newman and Mercer, all historically Baptist universities to ask the question what would Dietrich Bonhoeffer have to say to the Leadership of the NRA given preacher's daughters are getting mowed down during the Morning Worship service.

   It coulda been Bethany Baptist on Wilkinsville Road in Gaffney SC where my Dad was pastor from 62-78. Coulda been me in the 5th grade or my sister or brother, or Brooklyn Barksdale at the Collinsville Baptist Church where I was in a wedding Saturday; or one or all of Mark Morgan's four children, him a Duke grad with plenty of sense to navigate the odds--ten percent better chance in Canada than Collinsville Alabama of facing gun violence sometime during his children's next 70 years.

     Read, google, Selling the Politics of Fear, Osnos, New Yorker. Call the Honors Program at U Bama or Nick Saban's million dollar endowed youth ministry at St Francis Catholic Tuscaloosa and have them engage Will Ainsworth on the question; Will the Calvinist who will get you out of your Mother's womb then by God you are on your own to dodge the bullets.

    Follow the several enlightening pieces this week at the atlantic and NPR. Do not listen to Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson. They are doing the Devil's Work.

    Read Bonhoeffer on the politics of Stupidity in Charles Marsh's magnificent biography A Strange Glory. Read Furman grad Karen Guth, Claims on Bonhoeffer in the Christian Century.  Read Today's Religion Dispatches. Read Pulitzer's Marilynne Robinson at "Why Are We Here". Pray for Discernment. Pray Without Ceasing.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Truett Celebration Hayesville NC October 19

         There is a direct line in which I benefited from the life and Legacy of George W. Truett. Not only was I baptized in 1959 by my Father Billy D. Fox when he was pastor of the Truett Memorial Baptist Church in Hayesville, North Carolina, but I was given confidence by J Paul Beam and his family in Gaffney SC as a High School Senior in 1971. Beam, born just 30 years after Truett's birth two years after the Civil War in 1867 was part of a generation for whom Truett was the North STar of Baptist witness in the Public Square. Cherokee County , South Carolina's School Superintendent,  A theological graduate himself from the Baptist seminary in Louisville, Ky, that after his Baptist shaping on the old Downtown campus of Furman University in Greenville SC, Beam was a protégé, a poster child of Truett's legacy of Baptist Christian virtue in a lifetime career of Truett's second love, Education.

     About a month before a tragic accident took the life of Mr Beam and his wife Daisy and Daughter Mrs. Youngblood, Mrs. Beam, herself a 70 year old woman at the time, comes over to the pencil sharpener in my Advanced Math Class at Gaffney High. She said Stephen, Paul and I think you are a fine young man. We are proud to see you accepted to Furman University. Paul and I know how much your father makes, we know how much Furman costs. If for any reason that becomes a burden to your Dad and family, don't hesitate to call on us. Paul knows a lot of people there and we can help you work things out.

    So Here is my effort submitted to the Clay County Progress. A version should appear in the Nov 19 issue of the paper. And at the end of this click on the sterling address of Dr. Colin Harris, by far the wiser review, recently published at Other versions of that day may appear in Gaffney's Cherokee Chronicle and possibly a national Baptist publication.

         For Clay County Progress
   Becky Long Publisher
   Truett Event of October 19  

    September 30 I attended the Sacred Harp Singing in Dutton, Alabama about halfway between Ft Payne and Scottsboro up on Sand Moutain. You never know who will show up at these events as Sand Mtn is Ground Zero for Sacred harp; in fact the Ivey family of  nearby Henegar was the guts of the group at the Oscars in 2002 for their soundtrack performance for Cold Mountain.
   I got to talking to a tennis player from Bard College and some folks from Canada and Brown University. Bard is where Luc Sante teaches, Sante a consultant for the movie The Gangs of New York.
    He is also an essayist. All that to say at one point he talks about how every individual is their own "archaeological site". As such Hayesville North Carolina is one of the biggest digs of Stephen Fox, as it is a place of wonder and transcendence for me, locked in time of my 5th through 8th year. When I was in Hayesville, everybody of the first half of my life was alive, Momma and Dad, my Fox Grandparents and all my Mom and Dad's brothers and sisters and cousins, before a few divorces in the family, a diagnosed schizophrenic, some aspirations unreached and the unveiling of life that comes to us all.

    Chief in my site, my origin diggings is the towering figure of George W. Truett. My dad was the pastor there. The historical marker was a hundred yards or less from the parsonage. I was baptized there, heard Bible words and phrases; it got me thinking and I haven't stopped yet.

    In the summer of 1960 Colin Harris as a young man not much past 18 came up from Clairmont Hills Baptist Church in Atlanta Georgia to the Truett Camp in Hayesville for a weekend Baptist retreat with his youth group. His youth  pastor David Bookout, was a friend of my Dad, Billy D. Fox, then pastor of the Truett Memorial Baptist church in town.

    My Dad was the devotional leader for the weekend, and my mother Louise was in charge of seeing the group of 30 of the  best and brightest from the big city church were well fed. October 19, 2017 at Hayesville High School, now Dr. Colin Harris, retired religion proff from Mercer University said it was Billy Fox who first gave him an inkling of the grandeur, the towering stature of George W.  Truett in Baptist life. Harris told 80 odd students, some faculty and a sprinkling of members of the Clay County community Billy Fox "adored" George W. Truett.

    And he did.

   Earlier this year Frances Fitzgerald drew national attention in the Washington Post, NY Times, NY Review of Books and Cspan's Booktv with the publication of her magnum opus The Evangelicals and the Struggle to Shape America. So in that context and even moreso in the frame of the "religion card" in national politics since Southern Baptist Jimmy Carter became President in 1976. George Truett is key for historical praise and analysis.

    Our family left Hayesville January of my third grade year, 1962. For the next 16 years in Gaffney SC as part of his ministry my Dad told everyone he met, on some occasion or another about the Great George W. Truett, who historians have unanimously agreed was the grandest Baptist of the first half of the 20th Century. Check his Wikipedia page. Truett at age 27 saved Baylor University from Financial ruin; from 1897 to 1944 he was pastor in the biggest Baptist pulpit in the world, FBC Dallas, President of the Baptist World Alliance, and ambassador for President Woodrow Wilson to America's troups in WWI.

   All the while according to Princeton's Robert Wuthnow in the recent book Rough Country, for his time on the right side of history, a gradualist smartly advancing with Christian concern and the politics of what was possible the advancement of civil rights for Black folks though the dam didn't break till after his death. Wuthnow has a great chapter on that aspect of Truett's life " From Judge Lynch to Jim Crow".

   My father told folks high and low of the ministry and educational work of Truett. In Gaffney he told John Hamrick, likely the most influential and wealthiest Baptist in Gaffney SC. Hamrick a former President of the American Textile Association had a private audience with President Ford in 1974, and he was in the inner circle of textile magnate Roger Milliken of Spartanburg, the man legend says told Goldwater to run in 64 and gave Nixon more money than any other man in America in 72. Dad told Hamrick's sister Mrs. John Reaves and her doubles partner Kat Sossamon the wife of a U South Carolina trustee and later the Mother of another trustee about George Truett. They often called Dad on weekday mornings when they needed a "fourth" for their tennis matches.Billy Fox told Presidential Candidate George McGovern about Truett when he preached to him outside Pigeon Forge Tn the fourth Sunday of August 1983 when McGovern, the son of a Methodist minister showed up at the nearest Methodist church of a good trout stream he found in East Tennessee. It was the family's annual Helton Reunion and McGovern stuck around for an hour after church.

   As an aside Dad's first cousin Ray "Bush" Helton the moderator of the reunion welcomed McGovern that morning saying. We are honored to have Senator McGovern with us this morning. Bush said, Senator I think we should tell you outside my sister and Billy's boy Stephen you are about the only Democrat in the congregation today but you are welcome to our worship service and we want you to stay and have lunch with us if you like.

    McGovern Did.

    Late in his ministry, Dad had semi retired and was doing a little circuit preaching for some small Methodist churches in NE Alabam. One up on Lookout Mtn, in Dogtown, also known aka Ruhama Alabama, three years before he died, Dad presided over a ten day Vacation Bible School. He told that group about George W. Truett. One kid about 15 years old, pusihing the age limit was dismissed the first week for smoking, but they let him back in the second week. At the testimongy meeting the last night, the kid got up and said: A lotta people say Preacher Fox is getting too old. I just want to say he's my friend.

     One of the key moments of the Hayesville event Oct 19 was Hersey Miller, the son of an associational missionary who slept in the Historic Truett home in the room next to Truett's room. Hersey played basketball for the yellow jackets with Frankie Galloway but left his tenth grade year. A retired medical doctor, whose early 60s Scrabble games with my Dad were intense, Hersey became part of a panel conversation on Truett's legacy.

   Blind to some of the thinking of Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Marilynne Robinson he mirrored, echoed some of the thinking in her latest collection of essays, The Givenness of Things when he came out with this in the Hayesville auditorium

     Miller said: "
George Truett believed in civil and religious liberty for people everywhere.  Liberty and freedom require respect.  On what foundation is respect built?  The foundation of respect goes to the heart of who we are, and what it means to be human.  One of the key questions is how we got here, and where did humans come from.  If we are here only because of time, plus matter, plus chance, then respect is nothing more than one person’s power over another.  But if we are here because we are created in the image of God, as Truett maintained, then I respect you because you are the same as me – made in the image of God – both of us equally deserving God-given respect and freedom." 

      Already there is facebook chatter at the highest levels of Baptist life about a possible symposium at Truett camp in 2020 on the hundredth anniversary of Truett's famous 3 hour speech on the Capitol Steps in DC on the Separation of Church and State. I'm certain if such an event takes place, there will be a plenary session open to the public at Truett Memorial or some other venue in Hayesville.

   There are almost certain to be some kind of Celebrations at Wake Forest and at Truett Divinity School on the campus of Baylor

   Retired Mercer professor Colin Harris piece in ethicsdaily. With his son John, a Furman math proff and John's daughter Sophie they are authors of the children's book Mr. Tuck and the 8 Heroes. Get a copy for the elementary school you attended along life's way. I hope to be in Gaffney this spring with Dr. Harris for a reading at the Central Limestone Elementary school on the Pacolet Hwy.