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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, February 08, 2016

Richard Furman's 1822 tipping point

   Richard Furman is the Baptist theologian and Charleston pastor and slave owner  of the turn of the 18th Century, man for whom my alma mater is named. This blog will be a work in progress stoked by remarks of Bruce Gourley to a small group of Baptists in Chattanooga last fall as reported in the December issues of the monthly Baptists Today.
    I plan to send a letter to the editor for publication to that magazine hoping to get a reference to my the blog here with what I consider some salient points not discussed at the the conference; and the implications they seemed to tip toe around.
    I congratulate them for the conference and wish I could have attended. I hope the conversation continues in the pages of Baps Today.

   Quoting from John Pierce story in December 2015 BT:
         In Dec. of 1822 Richard Furman President of the SC SBC penned a public letter to the SC Governor that represented a "tipping point among white Baptists in the South, " said Gourley.
    Furman's "very pro-slavery stance" in the letter affirmed that slavery is never actually condemned in the Bible, and he assured the governor of the state's Baptist support in preventing future insurrections.
    "Prior to 1880, most white Baptists in the South were either opposed to slavery of ambivalent, " Said Gourley. "Richard Furman's letter changed things in the South"
   End Quote.

     Bruce Gourley is a native of South Georgia and earned his PHD at Auburn with noted Pulitzer prize nominee Proff Wayne Flynt as his advisor.

Mark Noll of Notre Dame is great on this matter, pointing out in America's God it was the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman that finally blasted away the fundamentalist juggernaut, the Biblical literalists that had propelled The United States to Civl War

     So where are we now and what did the Baps Today and the conference miss, overlook.

    One it is interesting to note that in 2007 Wade Burleson, then something of a renegade in the SBC Fundy ranks had over 100 comments on his blog referencing the Noll quote on Grant and Lee.

    Burleson made reference to what one scholar put in focus:  But perhaps the most devastating effect of these theological crises was that it took a bloody civil war to allow this country to move forward. In Mark Noll's words:
' was left to those consummate theologians, the Reverend Doctors Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman, to decide what in fact the Bible actually meant."

   But beyond that too often Baps Today as noble as their endeavor is and as kind they have been to me over the last 30 years publishing ten or more of my efforts in the magazine, they miss a great opportunity to be prophetic.

   Prophetic woulda been time spent--maybe they can concoct a breakout workshop at next annual meeting of CBF with folks who have done the timely homework--talking about the Thomas Powers review of Wuthnow's Rough Country with Atwater's "Nigger Memo" as a guidestone to the driving force of Pressler and his closest political allies in the takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention, Jesse Helms, Albert Lee Smith, and Adrian Roger's Ed Mcateer as unreconstructed Southerners who never could bring themselves to appreciate the legacy of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement.
     The Chattanooga conference woulda been much better if it coulda channeled GArry Wills recent review on Ej Dionn'es  book on the GOP going to the Hard Right, bringing into the conversation Bama product Barry Howard who is now Joe Scarborough's pastor in Pensacola Florida.
   A Better conference would've had a conversation with Baptist Governor of Georgia Roy Barnes who back in October on Ga NPR Two Way Street said it was Lee Atwater's Dream to have all across the South a choice between a White GOP and a Black Democratic party.
      It woulda come well versed in the New Racism, New Republic article on Bama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, Elberton Ga native and his political strategy of Bleaching, a provocative attempt to weaken the political power and blacks and Hispanics in the state.

    Richard Furman's letter to the Governor still has implications today as the great piece How the South Won the Civil War, recently in the New Yorker, a review of the new travelogue Deep South by Paul Theroux lays out. Scholars and laypeople in Chattanooga should've known of Joe Crespino's Strom Thurmond's America, especially Baptists in South Carolina on the eve of the upcoming Presidential primary.

    Turning the focus back on Furman. I think the family namesake, the University and many of Richard's progeny themselves long ago redeemed themselves from founder Furman's 1822 letter. When Richard Furman's Great Great grandson died a few years ago, the alumni magazine reported Richard Furman III wept openly in a trustee  meeting that Furman break with South Carolina Baptists. Reporting on his deep friendship with former Chaplains LD Johnson, Furman III long ago repented of his great grandfather's cultural captivity and showed it by standing with Gordon Blackwell when the school integrated in 1965. And Furman III was well aware of how political fundamentalists of Paul Pressler and Lee Atwater stripe were morphing the race card in southern politics into the religion card of Karl Rove, most pointedly the 2000 George W Bush SC Presidential Primary.

   In 1978 Gordon campaigned for former Greenville mayor, Max Heller, a Jew. Working for Carroll Campbell a leading resistor to the integration of the public schools, Lee Atwater  initiating his later mastery of the negative campaign, blanketed the district with the slogan Campbell, "One of Us." One of Us in the Atwater and Helms dictionary was a white man, Anglo Saxon Protestant.

    Here's hoping Furman shines brightly when Ted Cruz comes through town in the coming weeks as the anointed of Pressler and Cruz pastor ED Young, who in the late 60's was a distinct alternative to the prophetic preaching of Johnson at Furman, Young in then nearby Taylors SC.

    And of course there is the witness of Furman's Martin England and the grand social justice journalist Marshall Frady.

   So Furman has made amends. Let's hope my friends at Baptists Today can shine the light a little brighter in their ongoing well intentioned and on the whole most worthwhile efforts on the Civil War 150 years out.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Will Jeb Bush repent in SC and other random thoughts late January

     I have talked about the Meacham bio of Bush 41 and recent books on the rightward march of the GOP at this blog and the facebook walls of various progressive Baptist Groups recently. See the blog on Pressler and the SBC immediately preceeding this.

    The next to last commencement address Bush 43 gave in his Presidency was at the alma mater of Marshall Frady and myself, Furman University. Lee Atwater's SC primary made the Bush family. Without it there are serious questions whether 41 and 43 woulda been the nominee, 43 especially. While Jeb faces a near impossible task, for the sake of the country in South Carolina he could come clean and repent of his family's role in abetting the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention. My blog explains some of it and what's left standing is in the Garry Wills review of EJ Dionne's most recent book, and the Thomas Powers review of Wuthnow's Rough Country.

     Short version is Bush 41 resisted the Birch Society of Pressler and the Koch Bros at a speech in Harris County in 66 but because there was almost no way for 41 and then 43 to get the nomination he embraced the fundamentalist version in the SBC by 88 and 2000 and led the United States toward what Bonhoeffer called "the politics of stupidity."

    That's a much stronger version of the word, weightier than any assholish use of the term by that asshole Donald Trump; and though less an asshole Ted Cruz may be worse for the country than Trump in a Pressler/Koch moment writ large.

   This just in on Ted Cruz and David Barton, the Tin Man and Oz. Pressler's world and that of Adrian Rogers in full glory

    Joe Crespino, Wuthnow, Powers, Wills on Dionne, Furman students have some homework to do to be worthy of the same alma mater as Marshall Frady in the next few weeks.

     Confront Jeb, ask the tough informed Questions.

     Had an interesting conversation recently with a friend who had strong conversation with Jane Fonda's former husband Tom Haden. This chat 2002 in the Northeast where Haden was concerned with the welfare of Viola Liuzzo's son Tommy.

   Story is Tommy came to Bama in the late 70s near Harpersburg out HWY 280 passed the WMU Headquarters and has been here if not until the current time, almost ever since. He wanted to see what kind of people could kill his Mother. Part of his story is told in the book from Selma to sorrow but some disagree with the conclusions of Tommy and say that is not the Tommy they know. However for whatever reason Tommy did come to embrace some aspects of bein a Bammer and see the nuances of the good ol boy culture.

   For certain he stands as a candidate or some Rick Bragg like profile in Oxford American mag if parties are inclined to reminisce.

   I did come across this about Tommy as an 8th grader in Detroit in the Amazon reviews of late 90s of Selma to Sorrow.

       A Customer on December 21, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I remember the murder of Viola Liuzzo very well because her son Tommy was in my class at Precious Blood School in Detroit when it happened. We were in 8th grade. I remember the aftermath, although being only 13, I was only marginally aware of the magnitude of the whole event. My mother was one, of many, who asked "what was she doing there when she had 5 kids in Detroit?" Reading Mary Stanton's book took me back to a difficult place and time. She has done her research well and cares about her subject. It was painful reading for me because of what happened to the family and in my furvent hope that I was not one of Tommy's grade school tormentors. A wonderful depiction of a fascinating person and a terrible time in our country's history.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Koch Bros Dark Money and Pressler's fundy SBC Takeover

      NPR Fresh Air today had a conversation with Jane Mayer author of the latest book on the Koch Brothers. It could not be more timely as Paul Pressler, the right winger from the Netherworlds of Jesse Helms and fringes of the John Birch Society has been in the news of late in the corner of Ted Cruz for President of the United States. And just last month Christian Ethics Today, a publication whose editor Pat Anderson is a graduate of Furman University, a couple years after Marshall Frady, had a review of Robert Wuthnow's Rough Country spotlighting Lee Atwater's infamous" nigger memo".  LBJ's press secretary Bill Moyers has contributed to CET and is a reader. I hope this blog comes to the attention of Anderson and sees publication in some form in CET.

    If you understand Pressler the way Moyers, Ellen Rosenberg and Bill Friday understood him you come away from Rough Country with a much harsher view of Pressler and the charlatans who orchestrated the SBC into the Hard Right Political column of the Koch Brothers and fundamentalism than the McClatchey review in CET would lead you to believe. Google the Thomas Powers review of a couple years ago at Powers also understands.
   Friday is former chancellor of UNC system and a favorite of NC PBS having a longtime Friday evening show across the state. He told leading pastor in the resistance to Presslerism , Cecil Sherman, a couple decades ago: "The most significant event in NC in the 80s was the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC seminary at the town of Wake Forest, as Helms and Pressler joined at the hip in right wing bircher anti Martin Luther King politics knews that at SEBTS they had an avenue to get into every hamlet and berg in the state in the pulpits of Baptist churches.
     Today on NPR Mayer revealed a similar strategy of Koch brothers through advocacy groups and think tanks.
      In a later version of this blog I will share a letter Ellen Rosenberg shared with me. Her book of 88 the Southern Baptists, a Subculture in Transition had a chapter on Pressler's right wing political strategy to that time.
    Rough Country if read with educated eyes shows how the Texas Baptist fundamentalism of Pressler and the Oil Industry morephed into the Tea Party now squarely in the corner of Ted Cruz Candidacy for President with everything his former pastors Jim De Loach and Ed Young at 2nd Bap Houston bring to the cause.
    It all fits nicely into the politics of stupidity Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke against.
    In 1993 I asked President Carter about Tom Edsall's report it was the oil industry politics of the kind Pressler was born into in the family of an Exxon VP, right wing politics that went as far back as Joe McCarthy financing strategic primary defeats of progressive forces that would support windfall profits tax on the oil industry. Another piece of the cloth of the Koch Brothers and Pressler Strategies.
     In a sense the tragedy of Bush 41 was while he spoke against the Birch politics of Harris County (pressler's precinct) in 1966 in a Congressional Race, Bush 41 came to embrace the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC and with Rove and Richard Land Bush 43 followed suit. Jon Meacham's hints at this aspect of the Bush family in his recent bio of 41
     Compare Pressler's drive and personality to the leader of the takeover of the Lutheran Missouri synod; both on the Margins of the Birch Society and Texas Politics of Coke Stevenson of 48 and the rightwing in Texas Oil Community that came to resist LBJ, and from there the likes of Carlyle Marney, James Dunn, Jimmy Allen, Jimmy Carter and Bill Moyers.
    The evidence accumulates and darkness of the political strategy is clear and Paul Pressler, his oil community, Helms and Bham Birrcher Albert Lee Smith, the Koch Brothers are in the cabal at every turn.
    Talk to Rice Proff, Chandler Davidson. He knows.
    Listen online to the Fresh Air Interview today.
    Tell me Pressler was not in the room for one of the Koch Bros secret Donor Summits.
    More later.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Escape Velocity and Divine Utterances

     With The suggestion of Gaffney's Barty Sides and a great review in the New Yorker "How the South Won the Civil War" in the last month I've read Paul Theroux's Deep South. Martha Barksdale bought her own copy and I shared a library copy with Collinsville's Jeff Graves. I hope to get word to Theroux we are reading him in Bama and we know what he said about Collinsville on page 162. What he may not know is before he got here, Brett Morgen was here in 92, stayed in the motel Theroux wrote about, and Morgen survived to go on to be an Oscar nominee, hang out with Robert Redford and a couple years ago do a magisterial documentary on the Rolling Stones, Crossfire Hurricane.

    But I digress a little. In the book Theroux has a couple good chapters on Faulkner and a great chapter, The "fantastification of Southern Literature". I think my Advanced Comp teacher at Gaffney High, Miss Chadwick, would be proud of me for giving such matters consideration in my 6th decade. She lit the spark, on the heels of Miss Jones and all that preaching I got from my Dad and the visiting evangelists he would bring if for two weeks revivals. All that Old Testament drama dangling over the pits of hell; it was mastered by Marshall Frady but I got the willies and the lifelong seduction too.

    Barty Sides the Presbyterian minister's son a year ahead of me was more eloquent in high school and with doctorate in rhetoric likely moreso now, but this aint a GOP Presidential debate, much less a pissing contest. But it does evoke one of my best comeuppances in my scholarly career.

    Miss Chadwick had to be in her 70s when she taught me, her last year at Gaffney High School, the end of an era. She was great woman. She liked me and couldn't she. Last week of class in 71 I approached her and said Miss Chadwick you can go ahead and tell me I was one of the best students you had all these years at Gaffney High. She said Stephen you were a delight but you weren't even in the top twenty five. Then she starts, naming them. Barty Sides and Steve Williams, the Sossamon girls, Kathy Martin, Jerry Shinn, the Caldwells and Callison and she was just getting warmed up. I said okay, okay I get the picture.

     I'm just getting started here so come back to this piece for  the next couple weeks. Like Robin Williams said emceeing the Academy Awards a few years ago in the opening monologue, As Adam Said to Eve, Get Back Eve, there's no tellin how big this thing's gonna get.

   I got a lot to talk about including Charles Portis--Theroux likes him and weigh in to escape velocity. As a dangling aside Mattie was right she had a fine horse and loved her Presbyterian church. May even have a quote from Sides before this is over.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Clemson and the Natty

  My call was on hold for 52 minutes on Jan 12 to get on the Paul Finebaum show but he never took my call. I wanted to talk about the Clemson's win over the Tide and Nick Saban's process. I know what the score was but I also know a little about virtue and who had the more noble program and deserving championship in that contest.

    I confess I was never a big Clemson fan, in fact I made a derogatory comment loudly against the former Basketball Coach Tates Lock in a 1974 Furman Clemson basketball game at Clemson when Baron Hill and Clyde Mayes were on the court.

    But a lot of my friends from Gaffney South Carolina went to Clemson and my niece is a grad and her husband turned up a bright orange shirt  in Clemson and I got my pick on Skins Facebook wall .....for me the Saturday after new year's day and my sister did a Wikipedia reading of the end of Woody Hayes career and I could say more.

   Niece and hubby were at the game and my friend Lynn Arve of Wahalla sports fame; and Gaffney was represented by Sylvia Mintz and many others I haven't heard from yet. Sylvia's daughter Mimi is a Bama Senior and they live in Clemson so they had lot of things to think about.

    Wayne Whiteside and Danny Parker were Clemson fans and Warren Ratchford played there and Tim Childers made the highlight film in the 82 Natty and more.

   Four bad things about Bama. A lot of their fans are ignorant and arrogant and think the state is a better place when the football team does well. See Paul Theroux's take on Bama fans in Deep South.

   Don't cuss me, read the book.

   Even Greg McElroy one of the better products of the Process concedes the overriding reason 5 stars go to the Bama is not some allegiance to the Bear or the Legends or the Program or because of anything Bammers like to talk about; it's because of The Money. They figure Nick Saban has the best chance of getting them a big fat NFL contract so The PIMP brings them to Bama and the Rest is Horseshit.

Espn reinforced the point saying if Nick Saban gave every player on his roster 50,000 dollars a piece his base salary would still be 3 million dollars. Some call that recruiting but that kinda money would make even a good pimp wince.

    And consider this. Tim Childers aunt, Libby Mitchell a 63 Furman grad and before that a Gaffney High Grad where she was President of the Student Body, ran for Governor or Maine a few years ago. Compare her politics to that of Bammer's Senior Senator Richard Shelby. His re-election campaign this year is despicable. No Judge Frank Johnson is He.

  And here is a political angle I can't get my head around. Dabo was a classmate of rightwing talk radio host and Birmingham, Alabama personality Andrea Lindenberg. She and Rick and Bubba are poison not so much for what they think they know, but what they don't know about Jesus and politics; and its sad and poisonous. Dabo needs to pray with her after he talks to Clemson grad Marion Aldridge and the voice of the Clemson Tiger Band, Tim Willis, The Rabbi.

    My paragraphs got out of order. Go back to the horseshit for proper sequencing and transitional phrasing.  Well most of it. There are some good stories like there are in in Whorehouse. For instance I love Kenny Stabler, a great American, and Scott Hunter had that conversation with the Bear about Grace and President Kennedy came to the game in 62 against Notre Dame but a lot of the rest of it is Horseshit.

   I did have a good conversation in 2012 with McElroy and Finebaum on air about it all. The took notes as they should.

   I'm not a sore loser, I played trombone but I do appreciate the drama and the Heart  of football as you can see in my piece two years ago on the Gaffney Spartanburg game in 69

   One more  random thoughts. Renfrow and Deshaun Watson they won that game Monday night. Saban pulled off a pooch kick with a soccer player from Poland and Calhoun Georgia. Roll tide.

Thursday, December 31, 2015


  Don't have much to say about last year, but its the last day and deserves a little something on the record. I'm just lingering, sadly may be the upshot.

    Had a few moments and lot of thoughts. As has been routine for last several years, got in a few Sacred Harp events. Was in SC for three weeks mid summer. Summer mighta been unbearable if not for that.

      Turkey Trot in Collinsville was a delight and was proud of the Cricket Theatre for hosting an Auburn group back in October, I think it was.

     No book other than Rough Country stood out. Got my eye on H is for Hawk in the coming year.
     Saw Me and Earl in the dying Girl with my  Nephew, and liked Brooklyn over Thanksgiving. Spotlight was strong.

    And yesterday Ana Ularu was delightful on facebook with a dubmouth of Jack Nicholson in the Departed. We had a message exchange. Made my day.

    Joseph Morgan is now the editor of Southern Torch in Deekalb County Alabama. That is a matter of some intrigue.

    Life goes on. I'm concerned about my Country. I thought my generation coming out of Nixonland and Watergate and Viet Nam coulda polished things up a little but fundamentalist Baptists, the Tea PArty, Karl Rove and Fox News seem intent on FFin it up. Bonhoeffer calls it the politics of Stupidity.

    Had a few interesting conversations, got a used bicycle though emerging type two diabetes or arthritis in the legs means it aint what it used to be as Robbie Roberson says transitioning from the Old Time Religion into Night They Drove old Dixie Down in The Last Waltz.

   Was supposed to be at Bridges BBQ for breakfast this morn in Shebby NC but those plans with my brother came unhinged.

     Good metaphor for this last year, but I have a pulse and the Lord Almighty is in charge. As is professed in the movie Jude, we are the refuse, the offscouring. Good set up to see MacBeth which I hope Nick Saban and his Tide fans allow in a decent Theatre in Bama in January.

    Roll Tide. Actually I'm pullin for Clemson.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Traveling Home

    In the last several years I have posted many blogs about the Sacred Harp Singings. I attended my first one in August of 2006 best of my memory. Kiri  Miller of Brown wrote Traveling Home and has a picture about midway through the book near my home giving directions to the Piney Grove Singing where Bud Oliver, one time mayor of Collinsville, Alabama and a first name acquaintance of both President Bush 41 and JFK Defense Secretary Robert McNamara was a legend. He passed away a couple years ago.

If you can't click on this link, copy and paste for grand review of Kiri's book though I do take umbrage at the phrase "ignorant Hillbillies" though folks from Yale and Brown and Princeton who I've met in ten short years at the singings will profess is not the case now of the folks, some bunheaded they now sing with in DeKalb County , Alabama

    He and double first cousin S. T. Reed kept the Singing going for the last 60 some years. The two are double first cousins and I'm kin to all of them and ST's three sisters.

   Here is how I had it explained to me Sunday by one of the sisters at Jacks in Collinsville.

    The graves are in the Rocky Mount Cemetery if anybody wants to check.

    My great grandfather John Sanders Jordan had a sister named Louisa Jane born in 1836. John was born in 41 and his son my Grandfather James Columbus in 81.

   Louisa Jane married Nathaniel Reed who had a son William Tell --I guess named after the overture. "Telly" 's sister was Bud Oliver's Mother and Telly's children were S.T. and the sisters.

   Here are ST's sisters:   Lula Wagner, Sue Wills, Eulene Dobbs and Ardell Turnure, four sisters it turns out. Sue is a member of the Ruhama Baptist Church where Momma's first cousin Luther and Geneva Reed son Scott is the choir director. Two of his children are pharmacists, one in Fyffe. I think that's right

   So that's how I'm bloodkin to the heart of the Sacred Harp community of North Alabama and the world, cause Bud was international, and the movie Cold Mountain.

    Bud told me a great story about 2010. Grandfather Jordan had a brother, Roscoe, Uncle Rock who was Momma's favorite. I asked in my direct ancestry was active in the singings before my time. Bud said my grandfather came to a few, but Roscoe was a regular, came about every year. Said he wasn't much of a singer but did have a reputation.  Said back in the 30s and 40s they  called him Cake cause that's what he liked about it best, the dinner on the ground.