Archive for November, 2006


I Left My Heart in the Pine Woods

November 27, 2006

It is a long and lonesome road, my friends, that leads out of the pine woods.  I have been back and forth and to and fro on that stretch of highway more times than I care to count, and it only gets harder.

Most recently, I shook the wrinkles out of my going-to-town clothes and started a brand new job in Olde Wilmington, my second home and the site of an enjoyable (if largely misspent) stretch of early adulthood.

That first week, I forced myself out of bed pre-dawn to make the drive.  My commute was attended by a red sunrise, herds of deer feeding on new rye, thick traffic heading over the bridge into town, and at least one tragically fatal tornado, as I rolled through Reigelwood one morning some ten minutes behind a storm that cut a swath through the little town, killing eight people.

A shaky beginning, to be sure.  My new apartment was ready by the end of week, however, and so I set about the task of making me a place to sleep in town.  I was glad to give up the long drive that bookended my day, but the commute, however tedious, made the move and the change of life seem less permanent.  It was not until Sunday night, leaving my grandmother’s house (where I’d been quartered for a couple months due to a chain of events too convoluted to describe here) that I took a deep breath and thought of the things that I was leaving behind.  I sat in my car, surrounded by the last small essential accessories, and cried as hard as I have in a good long while.

I’ve made a good deal of noise over the past year or so about needing to get away, find a new context, shake off some rust and heal a few scratches.   And while all that is true, it doesn’t diminish the attachment I have to those old pine woods.

Some of the things I’m missing are easy to explain.  My family, for one.  Mother, father, sister, and a little neice who has no teeth but gnaws on chicken bones and almost always has smiles for me.

There are the ghosts:  My grandmother, the center of all things family, whose house we filled to capacity for Thanksgiving, either to honor her absence or make it bearable.  Also Andy, my good friend and Rabbit Hill’s own stumbling wise man.

I missed them in Rabbit Hill and I’ll miss them here, but leaving the place they called home, the landmarks where their spirits linger…tis a hrd thing, is all I’ll say about that.

And Andy’s dog, who I kept for a year and who is better off with fields and cows than pavement and closed spaces.  (And who would have been a stone cold lock to wake my new neighbors and wreak havoc on thier citified pets.)

Then there’s the other, indescribable attachment.  Could I call it the soil?  Could I call it history?  I’ll provide this anecdote by way of explanation:

When I was but a Duckling, no older than 5, a man appeared at my Grandmother’s home who I came to recognize as Uncle Tonk.  He was as old as anyone can reasonably be.  He sat in a recliner in the corner of the room and gave me candy when I came to visit, and I never thought to question who he might have been or why he came to live at Grandma’s, there being any number of old people around back then who I was told to call Uncle or Aunt and who made a great show of pinching cheeks and tallking loud, none of whom I remembered from visit to visit.

As it turns out, Tonk was really my great-GREAT uncle.  He and a brother had gotten themselves crossways of the law sometime in the 20’s, and found it necessary to vacate the pine woods without so much as a wave goodbye or a forwarding address.

They ended up in Tennessee, and when the brother left Tennessee for Texas he and Tonk never spoke again.

Forty years later the brother showed up in Rabbit Hill with not much more to his name than a limp and a bad cough.  He spent just a few months getting reaquainted before he died.

Same for Uncle Tonk, twenty years later and six decades removed from Rabbit Hill.   The people he knew were mostly dead.  The houses he inhabited as a young man had fallen back into the fields or grown up in briars and saplings.  So he moved in with his nephew’s widow, my grandmother, who he had never met.  And she took him in, and with help from her daughter she fed him and gave him a place to sleep and eventually washed him and changed his diapers when he got too sick to attend to himself.

Within a few months of his arrival he died.

At home.



Baptists at it Again!

November 19, 2006

N.C. Baptists vote to exclude pro-gluttony churches
Nov 15, 2006
By Horton H. Pharisee
Baptist News
“No one sin is worse than another. As believers, we have a responsibility to stand against an agenda which is contrary to Scripture. Nothing would please me more than if this discussion was unnecessary. However, this convention must stand with courage.”
–Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte and head of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s board of trustees

GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP)–The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, in a righteous and upright attempt to treat all sins equally, strengthened its membership criteria Nov. 14 to specify churches that do not support gluttony and do not allow gluttons to be members until they repent.

Messengers voted by nearly a three-fourths majority to change the convention’s articles of incorporation, Article VI.A.3 concerning membership as proposed in the “Pillsbury Motion,” brought before the convention last year by Bill Pillsbury, pastor of Habbakuk Baptist Church in Wendell.

“This is my personal stand on the Word of God,” said Pillsbury, a vocal conservative, on why he sought to change the articles of incorporation. “We are people of the Book. We are not willing to compromise. We have to be willing to take a stand. Others are willing to compromise. I mean come on people. This is one of the seven deadly sins.”

Last year when Pillsbury first brought up the issue of gluttonous acceptance in Baptist churches, messengers directed the state convention’s board of directors to develop a policy defining “churches in friendly cooperation with this Convention.” Don Warren of Gastonia, president of the board of directors, appointed a special committee to study the issue.

Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte and head of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s board of trustees, chaired the committee, which also included Southeastern Seminary ethics professor Daniel Heimbach. They spoke with the Southern Baptist Convention lawyers, who referred them to the SBC constitution which was amended to include similar language in 1993. They worked with BSCNC staff and looked at whether various state conventions have provisions concerning gluttons as church members and churches that support gluttony being in good standing.

Harris said they found specific wording in the Georgia State Convention’s governing documents on membership addressing the issue of churches that affirm gluttonous behavior.

“Neither I nor the convention sought out this issue,” Harris said. “It is important to know that this reflects biblical standards we all can unite on. This in no way attacks a person caught in the grips of gluttonous behavior. This is the establishment of a standard for the North Carolina Baptist Convention.

“No one sin is worse than another. As believers, we have a responsibility to stand against an agenda which is contrary to Scripture. Nothing would please me more than if this discussion was unnecessary. However, this convention must stand with courage,” Harris said.

During the discussion, messengers who supported the Pillsbury Motion were united in saying the BSCNC needed to take a strong stand against gluttony.

Heimbach said no one on the committee wanted to be on the stage to make the motion. However, he said this is where the church is being challenged today.

“If this is not clear where the world and devil attack today, we are not being faithful to God and His Word,” Heimbach said. “We do not list all the sins in the Bible in our constitution…. [T]his is where we stand and what this means to us as a state convention.”
The vote comes in the wake of allegations of overeating by leading evangelists across the country. Ted Haggard, pastor of the New Life church in Colorado Springs and president of the National Association of Evangelicals, resigned recently after a Shoney’s waitress claimed to have served him at the notorious Breakfast Bar in Colorado Springs thrice weekly for the past ten years.
Haggard, who has been outspoken in his criticism of the glutton lifestyle, maintained that although he visited the buffet often, he ate only fruits, salads, and “the occasional french toast stick.” Pressure mounted on Haggard after charges on his church credit account were traced to a Dunkin Donuts in nearby Manitou Springs. Haggard resigned despite his insistence that although he had bought frosted donuts, custard- and creme-filled pastries, and bear claws on occasion, he always threw them out under the I-25 overpass to feed the homeless who sleep there.

Opponents of the revision did not see it as necessary. While they all agreed gluttony is a sin and sinners need to repent, they did not feel such a rigid stance is necessary when the mechanism for membership removal already is in place.

“This is unproductive,” said Nate Rotundus, pastor at Golden Corral Baptist Church in Winston-Salem and a member of the BSCNC board of directors. “We should have more conversations with each other rather than cast stones at each other. Having the right to exclude does not give us the right to exclude. This creates another layer of board-driven committee oversight and power.”

Under the new policy, which adds “teeth” to the existing policy according to convention President Stan Belch, the BSCNC will not act like a “church watchdog.” Instead, two people would have to make a complaint, using their own names, to the BSCNC against a church they are familiar with that ordains obese clergy, for example, or makes public statements supporting gluttony or accept overweight slobs as members, said Belch, pastor of Blackadder Baptist Church in Kannapolis.

Milton A. Grabass Jr., the BSCNC executive director/treasurer, said he does not feel there will be a mass exodus of churches from the state convention. However, about 20 BSCNC churches are members of the Alliance of Baptists, a Washington, D.C.-based group which does not exclude gluttons as church members.

“Churches are autonomous in nature,” Grabass noted. “The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina does not mandate what will happen in churches. Today, we are just relating to churches in our convention. We want to reach out in love and minister.

“Churches have particular standards. Most groups do. Gluttons are welcome in our churches. We will offer them ministry. We want people to come out of that lifestyle. The result today is that we want to help more churches realize they can reach out and minister. We hope this helps create new ministries.”

Leading evangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson did not return calls on the subject, but televangelist Jack Van Impe released a videotaped statement yesterday in which he quoted the entire book of Deuteronomy without stopping to breathe, before lavishing praise on his “beautiful and smart” wife Rexella.


Outdoor Sports

November 6, 2006

That’s a seven-pound, ten-ounce bass, in case you were wondering. Caught by my good buddy E. at an undisclosed location in the pine woods.

E’s Bass

And not the biggest deer, but a nice way to finish off a great weekend.    Plus, there’s meat in the freezer again for the Duck clan. dave-deer-2.JPG


The squeaky wheel gets greased….and sodomized. Repeatedly. And Pays for the Priveledge.

November 3, 2006

It’s happened again, friends. Another self-righteous asshole whose sole purpose in life seemed to be “preserving the institution of marriage” by denying basic civil rights to gay people — all in the name of Jesus — has been caught with his face in the pillow. (If you don’t get that last part, just think about it for a second.)

The Right Reverend Ted Haggard, pastor of the New Life church in Colorado Springs and president of the National Association of Evangelicals, has resigned after a man named Mike Jones claims Haggard paid him for sex on a monthly basis for the last three years.

Haggard is one of these Holy Rollers who runs with the likes of James Dobson, Ralph Reed, and etc. One of those people who just can’t stand the thought of two gay people getting married. And why not? Because he thinks gay marriage would threaten the institution of heterosexual marriage?

No, not really.

Only the sheep are buying that explanation.

My guess is that old Teddy, as a right-wing evangelical who happens to enjoy sexual congress with other men, gets off on having a “secret life” that nobody knows about. It’s a thrill, you know, clandestine meetings, hiring male prostitutes, living on the edge just a little bit. That was Teddy’s little game, and you know what? It wasn’t his fault. God gave him these desires, and then made it a mortal sin to act on them. God set Teddy up. And if Teddy gave in to temptation once or twice — or, say, once a month for three full years — he tried his best to make up for it by hammering those goddamned homosexuals every chance he got.

Of course, burning his candle on both ends like that drains a man quick-like, so old Teddy kept his energy level up by snorting some methamphetamine before engaging in his monthly butt-sex session with Jones.

I don’t normally take joy from another’s suffering. Really, I don’t. But having grown up in Rabbit Hill, among many staunch Southern Baptists who also happen to be very good people, I am damned tired of characters like Ted Haggard who put Jesus up on the pulpit and make him dance like the organ grinder’s monkey. all for their own benefit.

I’m also angry at my own people for not catching onto this game sooner, or at all. I love my people, but at the same time it pains me to associate with an organization (the SBC) that I believe to be a negative social force.

So here are some random thoughts on this subject, especially for the SB’s out there:

  • When someone spends an inordinate amount of time hounding a particular group of people, it’s usually because that person is actually one of them, and is full of self-hatred. Think about Saul/Paul stoning all those Christians.
  • How much time did Jesus spend talking about the homosexuals, anyway?
  • If an evangelist gets rich, he was probably in it for the money.
  • If an evangelist is heavy into politics, he’s probably more concerned with the politics than with Jesus.

Here’s why gay marriage is such a big issue. Back in 1980, the politicians discovered this huge voting demographic: Christians. They realized if they could get the Christians riled up enough, they’d come to the polls in droves and could swing even a national election.

So the big Evangelists (Robertson, Reed, et. al.), as Christian voices with national appeal, were suddenly pretty powerful dudes. For years and years they hammered on abortion in order to get Christians mad enough to come vote for Reagan and Bush. Then the Big Evangelists would go to the politicians and say “hey man, look at how much power we have! We control millions of voters! Break us off a little something something!”

Here’s the catch. In order to maintain their clout in DC, the Big Evangelists have to keep the Christians perpetually angry. After 20 years abortion wasn’t drawing as many crowds, so they had to find something else. And the homos were an easy target, with thier parades and their tight pants and their anal play.

So the Big Evangelists start preaching hard as they can against the homosexuals, and telling everybody that the homos are out to ruin the institution of marriage. They have to make it sound like the gays are out to get the rest of us, otherwise Joe Baptist might be inclined to say “what harm could it possibly do to me if two guys want to be married?”

Your hometown pastor gets up early on Sunday mornings and watches the Big Evangelists. You know, for inspiration. Steal a line or two here and there, perhaps. And he looks up to the Big Evangelist, so when the Big Evangelist gets really pissed off about something, then the hometown pastor gets pissed off too, and so he mentions it in his own sermon.

Now I’m just some dude going to church every Sunday, and my hometown pastor tells me that the gays are attacking the institution of marriage. And while I was getting ready for church, I caught five minutes of the Big Evangelist on the TV and he said the same thing. And the president said it to, kind of, as did the state representative who I saw at the fish fry a couple weeks ago.

So it must be true. Those sneaky gays are attacking the institution of marriage. We’d better do something about this!

Here’s what I might not realize. The President knows that by coming out against gay marriage, he’s gonna gain the votes of the people to take the Big Evangelist seriously. And the Big Evangelist knows that the more people who take him seriously, the more political clout he gains — not to mention the more donations he receives.

And the hometown preacher might be a good guy who believes that the President and the Big Evangelist speak for Jesus. Maybe it makes him feel important to involve himself in a big political issue. Maybe he’s looking to energize his own congregation around this issue. After all, every Big Evangelist has to start somewhere.

Everybody’s getting paid, right? Except for me, the seeker, who comes to church only to get a little closer to Jesus. I’m getting my soul damaged a little bit every Sunday, because people I trust are at worst misleading me about the spirit of Jesus, and at best are drawing my attention away from Jesus and toward things, like gay marriage, which Jesus didn’t even think were important enough to talk about.

I’m getting bent over, just like Teddy Haggard, and like him I’m paying for the priveledge.