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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.

Monday, January 28, 2019

50 Great Americans

    Friends Ive been reading Jill Lepore's Great History of America These Truths. Texted some of my cousins some episodes brought me near tears. Time to testify so here is an incomplete list of 50 Great Americans that have crossed my path in some fashion in 65 years. Ive met most of these folks in the flesh, a few by reputation or an email exchange or phone conversation. This is my list. Would love to see yours if you have a way to share. My email is Eventually I will identify all but first just putting up the list.

    1. Stewart A. Newman. One of my Dad's seminary professors who stopped by to visit us in Hayesville, NC in 1960 and in Gaffney in 77. He followed WA Criswell's racebaiting speech in Columbia SC in 56 and said "WA Criswell doesn't speak for me!"

   2. Judge Frank Johnson. Wikipedia is a good place to start
   3. Dee Edwards. Kind Methodist minister in Collinsville in 92. Was a good friend at Emory of a son of President Carter.

   4. George W. Truett. Historians consensus greatest Baptist of the first half of the 20th Century. I was baptized in his birthplace namesake church in Hayesville NC in 59

   5. James Broome. One of my Dad's deacons at Bethany Baptist Church in Gaffney SC. A textile mill worker who was devoted and studious in the January Bible Studies.

    6. Esther Dawkins. Johnny's mother and the 8 others. A grand person of color in Gaffney, all of whose children are colleges graduates with maybe exception of Teresa, working in a textile mill as well. I think Musgrove.

   7. My Mom and Dad and grandparents on both sides. Ive blogged about them before

   8.Solomon Stanton. Great court sense, one of Neil Thrash's finest. One the Dekalb County tourney four years in a row.

    9.Thomas Barksdale and Paul James. Thomas played football for Bear Bryant and Bobby Bowden, a Baptist deacon with integrity and a wry sense of humor. Paul James was a deacon in my Dad's first church, Bethel in Newport Tn, Baltimore and Parrotsville. Played trombone and football. As a city council member in the 70s's stared down a leader of a crime syndicate in East Tennessee and said Not in my county. He came to my Dad's 75th birthday party

   10. Kat Sossamon and Mrs. Reaves. Ms Sossamon was a Low Country debutante who married an All American Center for the Carolina GAmecocks later a Trustee. Ms Reaves was her neighbor who lost a son in Viet Nam. They played tennis in the mornings and often called on my Dad when they needed a fourth. Good women who knew what was goin on in Gaffney and had some things to say to their brothers and husbands when needed. Both were in the congregation at Bethany my Dad's last sunday there in 78

  11.Maria Morenoand Jorge Avil Segura. The Valedictoriana and salutatorian of momma's alma mater, Collinsville HS, undocumented when they walked in 2013 but on the way now to being some of the finest American citizens whose paths have crossed mine.

   12. Peggy Weaver. Of the influential Coplin family of the 60s of Guntersville, Alabama. Scored perfect on the ACT 36 in 1965 and became a legendary math teacher in Collinsville. Uncle Bill said she was a good person

   13. Rahul Mehra

   14Johnny Dawkins and Fletcher Smith

    15Wayne Whiteside

   16Mart Gray

   17 . Laquita Bowers and Tara George

  18. LD Johnson and Jim Pitts

   19Dom Dimaggio

  20. Marshall Frady

  21J Paul Beam

   22 . Leita White and Faye Edwards

   23. Callisons

   24 Ron Rash

   25 James Wood

   I got 25 more to go. Come back later to see if you make the list and more short bios.

  26. Tomiko Brown Nagin, Karen Guth

  27. Andy Padgett

  28 Emil Acuff

   29. Lynn Arve; Arther Frady. Two great South Carolinians, one from Wahalla, the other a classmate at Gaffney High School

  30. Doug Cumming, Sam Hodges, Frye Galliard. I talked to Doug briefly this morning and Sam last night. Doug's father was Newsweek bureau chief in Atlanta in the Sixties. Sam Hodges FU 77 and Galliard were outstanding writers for the Charlotte Observer among other celebrated gigs.

   31 Dianne Sarratt, Lillian Ashley, Jan Palmer. All maiden names who were always a few ranks ahead of me since 3rd grade in Gaffney SC; and all fellow Beta club members. Diane became a teacher and for many years the organist at the Providence Baptist Church in Gaffney; Lillian nominated me to be president of the Latin Club then got her Master's in Library science at Vanderbilt and had a career in Northern Virginia as a librarian; Jan was at Gaffney and Furman with me, the first undergrad at Furman to get an A in legend  Dr intro to psychology class with his nefarious multiple choice tests. He was a Skinnerian.

   32 Martha Johns and Big Minor. Knew them only by reputation and love for Furman. Ms Johns the first lady in 80s and early 90s, and Big Minor the niece of Charles Daniel who was Eisenhower and Nixon's pol and businessman in Upstate SC. Big Minor  as opposed to her daughter Minor Mickel Shaw, was chair of the Furman trustees when they broke with the SC SBC. Tim Head told her he had the votes. She told him go ahead and do what you think you have to do.

  33 Martin England, Marshall Frady and Judy Clarke. Three other illustrious grads of Furman who should be on a pole at Fluor Field. Until then it's a travesty

   34. Alice Lee. Harper's sister who told a Bircher in the South Alabama Methodist conference in 56 to move the Previous Question.

   35 Marian Wright Edelman. We talked at 16th Street BC in Bham in 09 and share roots in Gaffney South Carolina.

    36. Sadie Kiser, Janelle Moss, and Mrs. Thompson . Three Saints of the sixties at Bethany Baptist Church in Gaffney

    37 Joanne Helton. Daddy's double First Cousin. Her Dad was Henry Helton a brother of my grandmother Mary Alice, and her Mother Aunt Vola who was my grandfather WD Shorty Fox sister.

    38. Sky Foster and Elnora Little john. Two women of color who became friends with the integration of the public schools in Gaffney. Elnora was in my Algebra class in fall of 69, only black girl in there, and Sky went from Gaffney to SC State to administration in the BMW plant on 85 in Greer

    39 Randall Lolley, Bill Self,  Jack Causey and Jack Harwell.  Four outstanding Baptists who resisted fundamentalism in the Southern Baptist Convention.

    40 John Linley Baker. Doctor's son from the Battery in Charleston who I came to know at Furman. Solid recreational tennis player and friend of Paul Scarpa.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Dogma is the Drama

   In late September 2012 with the invitation of two dear friends of Collinsville Alabama I attended a celebration of Koinonia Farms and the origins of Habitat for Humanity in Americus Ga. John Morgan and wife Susan Weaver have been with HfH since their marriage in 2007, he the UVA grad and son of the local Baptist minister and wife daughter of an influential family in Guntersville Alabama who had a 25 year career as football coach and math teacher in Collinsville.

    I met Ansley Quiros in passing at that momentous event and what follows is part of that occasion. The following is in the Hopper to be published by Christian Ethics Today, a progressive Baptist quarterly, in the next couple weeks or so. Editor Pat Anderson also is a Furman grad.  


    My father was the pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Gaffney,  South Carolina from 1962 to 1978, the church only six years old when my Dad arrived, a mission of the FBC Gaffney. I graduated High school there in 1971, the third year of integration of a school roughly 60/40 white to black and was on the bi-racial committee my senior year.

       The last four years of our family's stay got a little dicey over matters of race. Long story short several families were disgruntled we pretty much had an open door policy at the pastorium with a paved driveway and basketball goal and anybody of any color was welcome in reasonable hours. I am proud to have played with the cousins of the great David Thompson, themselves the uncles of later to be Southern Conference Basketball player of the year Donald Simms, the mixed race grandson of future south Governor Riley's best friend of Greenville, Don Gannt.  Riley became President Clinton's Secretary of Education.

      My sister came home from Mars Hill the fall of 76 with a group who had been on a mission trip with her to Baltimore and a couple friends, a missionary's son and a black basketball player. Things got more tense after that and we were headed to Knoxville Tn by summer of 78.

    I was writing some provocative unsolicited opinion pieces in the local paper and it got to the point where a relative of an outspoken resistor to the Fox's agenda came looking for me one late afternoon. I was out of the neighborhood when this former Freedom of Choice School board member came calling down Wilkinsville Hwy, but placed a phone call to him later . Upshot was if I didn't quiet down and let his sister and her group have their way in the church he would "stand on my toes and beat my ass into the ground".

      One other memorable quote of that late spring of 78 came from a former leader in the local Klan who donated the land for the pastorium right behind Bethany, the house our family lived in 14 of the 16 years. I asked the fellow, Joe, if my Daddy had tried to integrate Bethany in 65 what would you have done. He said I woulda shot him. I said what do you think about him now. He said, I Love the damn preacher. If somebody tried to harm him now, they would have to go through my ass to get to him.

     So it is with some existential understanding I come to my fellow Furman grad Ansley Quiros wonderful new book, God With Us.

    Quiros takes a deep dive into the Civil Rights struggle of 1965 in Americus Ga, home of Martin England and Clarence Jordan's Koinonia Farms. Just seven miles from President Carter's Plains Georgia, it is also the place the Baptist preacher's son Marshall Frady spotlighted in his piece on white race progressive Warren Fortson, an attorney and First Methodist Church Sunday School teacher who was run out of town for taking a moderate stance on the upheaval in 65.

     In her provocatively titled introduction "Sweet Jesus and the Unbearable Madness" Quiros does a magificent job covering the territory of Civil rights era studies to date. She cites Dorothy Sayers 1931 effort The Dogma is the Drama to get at what Flannery Oconnor searched the underbelly of  forces that motivate people into action when communities are in conflict. Conceding her debt to Charles Marsh of UVA's Project on Lived Theology, she takes his prescription for reckoning and reconciliation as the thesis of her book, while telling a nonfiction version of a John Grisham southern drama. Here she is in the guts of her book in her own words.

         Quiros says Marsh describes lived theology as a probing and careful narration of life inside the movement of God in the social world....Lived theology effectively expands what can be categorized as theological, and who can be a "theologian". Theology belongs not only to Barth and Aquinas but also to a more 'varied cast of everyday sinners and saints'

         In a chapter a piece on the white churches of Lee Street in Americus in 65 , she drives home the point of just how much the laity mastered the concept of local church autonomy to control their whites only policy. To the frustration of the pastor Harold Collins, at one time called a coward by Koinonia founder Clarence Jordan, he moderated his ideals of equality on the altar of Baptist church polity of majority rule. The Methodists weren't any better and got international condemnation after a famous picture of several men  with locked arms standing on the steps of the church forbidding a kneel in demonstration of folks from entering their house of worship one Sunday morning. That picture evoked a cartoon In the LA time that caricatured these church leaders as hooded Klansman.

     Collins left the church in frustration and defeat but was called back about 15 years later when the church adopted an open door policy.

      The Lee Street Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterians, these tall steeple congregations were indicative of white churches across the south as most readers of this review are well aware. The Duke Civil Rights narrator and historian, Tim Tyson in his Blood of Emmett Till published earlier in 2018 has a startling segment on just how fast White Citizens Councils spread across the Deep South after Brown v board starting with just several 100 people in a small province of Mississippi in 1954 to almost a quarter million members in two years, most of them recruited in the civic clubs, the Rotary, Lions and Kiwanis chapters, the places where the deacons and elders in the influential congregations came from in those days.

          A few years ago the former Gov of Georgia, Roy Barnes said one of the Dreams of Lee Atwater was to have every voter in the South in a booth with a choice between a black Democrat and a White Republican. Robert Wuthnow explores the aftermath of Atwater's early 80's "nigger memo" in the book Rough Country, a strategy spotlighted in Jill Lepore's magnificent new history of America, These Truths. Lepore gets what Quiros is talking about as her chapter Battle Lines shines a light on the Birch Society mentored Phyliss Schlafly and her Eagle Forum over the direction of the GOP the last 50 years.

      Schafly was hardwired to the leadership and right wing network of the Takeover of the Southern Baptist convention.           

           One of the reverberations of this book that will have legs entangles the chatter in the wake of Furman and Southern Seminary's look at their slaveholding founders, most of whom were the same people as Southern grew out of Furman. Some at Furman are convinced there is a headlong dash to secularism at the school just a few decades after the official break with the SC SBC and the threat of fundamentalism and their Seeking Abraham report--google the 40 page document online--is cover for some other designs. In her introduction Sweet Jesus ... Quiros has some words of advice for those at Furman who may be caught up in identity politics and too much political correctness.

     Speaking to "secular snobbery" in academic studies of the Civil Rights era  She says early on: "Besides being poor scholarship, historian's marginalization of unsavory religious views has perpetuated an overly simplistic, triumphalist narrative of the civil rights movement, one that misses the heart of the struggle".  

      Quiros in her early 30s shows promise for many conversations in the center and the margins of the progressive Baptist movement for some time to come. In the fall of 2018 she wrote a major piece published in the Washington Post about fundamentalist Southern Baptists in the town of Luverne Alabama and how they were preternaturally disposed to the Trump Base. The fall of 2017 she had a presentation at Furman on three Paladins key to the Civil Rights milieu of Americus, Marshall Frady,  Martin England and Harold Collins.

     Other than England, there is only incidental coverage of Frady and Collins in God With Us. If there is a reprint I hope publishers can find a way to include her Furman Presentation. Speaking as a crusade of One, I have been adamant Frady and England deserve notice on what I hope is a third pole celebrating Furman greats at Fluor Field--home of single A Red Sox baseball--downtown Greenville. And in 15 to twenty years wouldn't surprise me if Dr. Quiros is on a fourth pole or added to one of the three I hope by that time continues to stand.  

    As of early January you can read the introduction of Quiros book by entering the url      

Post Script  
       I am hoping the above and this blog will be shared by the 17 member Seeking Abraham Committee of Furman which I have addressed on this blog and will again soon. The initiative which has its detractors, I'm convinced has considerable merit though I have some reservations as well. It comes on the  heels of a 2015 booklet commemorating 50 years of Desegregation at Furman. A 15 page article there is by Furman history proff Courtney Tollison, a force in her own right in Upstate SC as a grad of Christ Church Episcopal prep school as well as Furman, now married to a major benefactor family of Furman, the Hartnesses of the Pepsi Cola distributorship there; Pepsi part of the politically conservative Frito Lay, Herman Lay network.  

     Here is a promising paragraph of the Abraham document--you can read the 50 page doc online with simple google search--of a 50 page document. Here on page 13....Quoting We approach these steps with grace: that individual conscience enriches us, making forgiveness and redemption possible. Somebody outside the task force, steeped in University History, disagreed with a potential recommendation because of a lack of commitment to this process. The best response, on behalf of the Task Force, was just to say "I hear you", and let that communicative gap be marked. The goal is not to immediately convert anybody's viewpoint. Rather, we incentivize the journey of reflection and dialogue on our own time. End Quote

      Seeking Abraham is only a starting point in my opinion for conversations at Furman. As startling in places as the initiative is, I hope Furman follows through with ongoing conversations of the likes of conservative political families like Nixon's southern Strategist Harry Dent whose Daughter, Dolly was there at Furman a couple years in my day. Atwater's daughter Salley is a recent grad. Clayte Hubbard '18 Father Mike recent speaker of the House in Bama who with the Republican Handshake flipped the state in 2010 Blue to Red. Lauren Cooley a disciple of Anne Coulter was shaped in the Ft Lauderdale Church of Billy Graham's Grandson Tully Tchvidjian.

    And now Christ Church and GWU alum Timmons is the successor of Trey Gowdy in the US Congressional District that includes Furman and Wofford. The basketball arena at Furman is named for Timmons family, his father a 40s Grad.

    It will be interesting to see how Timmons defines himself on the spectrum of First Baptist Church Spartanburg Truth for a New Generation conferences and world view as distinct to the liberal arts education values of Furman and Wofford. Informed by Lepore, and Quiros I am looking forward to that conversation between now and the SC Presidential primary of 2020

    Tollison, like Quiros, did an outstanding job with the politics of the SC SBC in her report in the Desegregation booklet. Wuthnow and Lepore are self evident for updated conversations at Furman worthy of the legacy of Marshall Frady, Martin England, LD Johnson and now Quiros.

Friday, January 11, 2019

How Furman Helped Clemson Beat Bama; and the Movies

    Monday afternoon Mike Mack Pheerson, A Bammer, said the Sabanites would beat Clemson by 19 but he was wrong.

   Clemson yellowhammer rammer Jammer beat the Poop outta alabammer by 24, ten more than the 14 which was the two biggest loss spreads in the Saban era.

   It was a shellacking and the whole world knows it.

    Oh the Furman angle. Billy Kaiser was a receivers coach, a Furman grad who left Bama for the Arizona Cardinals. One of the reasons a Bama five star recruit chose Clemson over Saban was the coaching carousel at Bama, a leak in the Process. Dabo pointed that out and the Phoenix city receiver went Orange, only the second in the Saban era to forsake the once Mighty Tide, now out to Sea, for the up and coming program.

    The Other Jameis Winston.

   The Tide may never come back in.

   I have a lot to say but don't have time so come back later.

  One Clemson fan, Karen Atwater Baker Carter of the UMC downtown had the best analysis. Venables whose son was a star at Daniel High School, had explored the weakest link in every Bama formation and he exploited the max out of it.

   Antonio Langham said the Bammer linebackers and defensive backs were looking at each other and the sidelines in a daze and nobody knew how to get out of the Fog. 

   The Process Did Not work, sportsfans. I Man on the Finebaum show Wednesday explained the rest.

    It will be some time if ever in my lifetime Bammer's get back on the Mountain and the arrogant obnoxious fans had it comin so Rammer Jammer beat the poop out of em back at you.

   Gaffney Indians are the best.

   Now here is something else Ive been thinking about this new Year in a crunch.

   Best movie lines in no particular order.

   One. You know how many people I know in El Paso, Zero that's how Many  No Country

  two. Midget , Broom, Helluva a campaign. Oh Brother.

   Mr Arther had no idea what he would say to Billy Knapp. The Coens Buster Scruggs.

   Give me the Blood, give me the pipeline. New Yorker's best of the 21st Century, There Will Be Blood.

    Uncle Frankie's riding Garibaldi. Man who wasn't there.

   We're goin to Ben's. Blue Velvet.

    Also Dennis Hopper in Paris Trout, line of the Black Mother: Jesus will be here soon and cover us both with a blanket.

    Tom Waites lines in Ironweed. Charles Darwin Father of modern Botany, died in 1936, born of two midwives.

    It needs a little work but it'll do. Lester Ballard in Child of God

   And from the novel by Charles Frazier of Cold Mtn Fame, this one about the wife of Jefferson Davis: "Ma'm we're in South Carolina, Who Knows Their Standards."

   I'm the Only Sane Sumbitch in Here.  Doyle Hargraves in Slingblade. See my blog where I asked Billy Bob Thornton a question.

    Happy New Year