Religion: Old-time “Mixed Marriages” in the South … at least Where I Grew Up

By  “ancient” and “archaic” standards, I am the product of a “mixed marriage”. Does that mean I’m half black and half white?

No … NOT HARDLY!!.

Du-uhhh!!! (pronounced with two syllables with a slight upper inflection on the latter)

It means my father was a Methodist and my mother was a Baptist. And, the dilemma should have been, “Where do we go to church on Sunday?”, but it wasn’t. We attended the Methodist Church, of course.

In the South,especially the rural South, there is a church hierarchy: … everything else, … the Baptists and … the Methodists … but you have to be raised a Methodist out in the “boonies” to appreciate this. Otherwise, you either don’t get it … or viciously disagree.

Baptists accept everyone … just about … even Jimmy Carter.  But, Methodists … well, you have to consider yourself slightly up a notch … and then you’re a Methodist. If you look closely, you’ll notice most of the farmers are Baptists … unless they’re really, really big farmers (or those who think they’re really, really big farmers). And … a lot of the store owners … are Baptists. But …, where do you find the bankers, lawyers, doctors …and insurance agents …? At the Methodist Church, of course, … along with the children and descendants of bankers, lawyers and doctors … and insurance agents … and … really, really big farmers.

It’s really sort of interesting if you think about it … and study it.

Methodists are really Episcopalians sort of lost in the wilderness … and used to call themselves the Methodist Episcopal Church (ergo, the AME or African Methodist Episcopal Church) … or … they called themselves Anglicans … in colonial times, you know, before the “big split”. But now, they’re simply “Methodists” … or “United Methodists”. That’s what they changed their name to when the national organization stole all of the church property from the individual congregations … or so my father said. He always emphatically stated he wasn’t a “united” anything … but a plain ole’ Methodist … period. So there.

“Methodism” is really fairly interesting and basically simple. It was a devised “method” of practicing the Anglican form of the Protestant faith. During the early days of John Wesley, the Anglican Church, or Church of England, required all of it’s congregations to be attended by ordained ministers or priests at formal churches which were few and far between in England. At least, that was the excuse for poor attendance.

John Wesley, as a young Anglican minister, promoted the idea of lay ministers to attend lay congregations in the smaller communities that found it difficult or impossible to travel to the specified churches.(In other words, they just didn’t want to go.) He also set up a “method” or way for them the be organized and conduct their business … thus …”Methodism”. John Wesley was “the Missionary” of the Anglican Church. He went and sought out all of the recalcitrants and gave them no excuse for not attending church.

The colony of Georgia had a particular history with John Wesley. During it’s early days, Wesley actually traveled from England to Georgia during the governorship of James Oglethorpe and preached to congregations there … such as the one at Fort Frederica on St. Simons Island. A small Methodist church still exists on the site near the fort where Wesley preached to Frederica’s congregation under the Spanish moss draped oaks. So, don’t tell anyone but … Methodists “KNOW” their denomination “IS” the real “secret” official religion of the state of Georgia … and everyone else are really heretics.

But the Baptists … ahhhh … the “fire and brimstone” Baptists. Now, there’s a history worth telling. Steeped in the traditions of John Calvin, John Knox and other fervent protestants like the Pilgrims, or Congregationalists, that thought the Church of England or Anglicans were still too “papist”, they are descended from the true firebrands of Protestantism. In fact, the first Baptist congregation in America actually migrated from Maine where it originally settled to Charleston, SC. … where it has continued to flourish in the congregation of the First Baptist Church of that city.

This congregation in this church is where the “War Between the States” notion of “brother against brother, cousin against cousin” actually came into being … if you didn’t know it … at least more or less. These people in Charleston came from New England. They had family … cousins up there. Look it up … the same names. These were the original slave owners and abolitionists that were related to each other … and hated each other. The Civil War wasn’t about slavery. It was a damned family feud … between  two related bipolar groups of religeous fanatics!!

What Baptist in the South isn’t familiar with the name Furman, whether it be the university in Greenville, SC or its namesake, Richard Furman, the first and long time minister of First Baptist Church in Charleston. All Baptists who are familiar with their history know that Furman developed the organization of the Baptist Church as it exists in this country today, plus or minus its northern and southern juxtapositions.

Furman devised the plan to organize missionaries to go out among the pioneers and settlers of the South to introduce them to the Baptist faith … and convert them. That active pursuit of conversions and soul saving is the reason that the Baptist faith is so prominent in the South today.

The Baptist mission has been so successful and insidious in that South that, for all intents and purposes, a Methodist is really more of a “high” Baptist than a “low” Episcopalian  … although in some places, especially in some congregations around Charleston, you would think the Methodists are trying to compete with the Episcopalians  … or even Catholics … with kneeling and all.

In studying the genealogy of my paternal ancestors in the South, I know that they were originally Anglican in 17th century Virginia in old Lynhaven Parish on the coast and probably still so in 18th century coastal North Carolina. But, when they moved to Georgia in the immediate post Revolutionary War days, they were swept up in the fervor of the missionaries from Charleston working the frequently desolate and dangerous frontier regions of that newborn state … and became members of the Baptist communities there … whether in Jefferson County near the old capital city of Louisville … or old expansive Dooly County in the former Indian lands of the southwestern part of the state in what later became Baker then Dougherty counties, in the earliest congregations of  old Palmyra Baptist Church with the Mercers (as in Mercer University). Then, somehow, my great-grandfather getting a medical degree converted his branch of the family to Methodism … at least for the most part … along with subsequent Methodist ministers, more physicians … and lawyers … and probably insurance agents … and all, including politicians … and married to the sister of one really, really, really  … really big farmer.

Well, what about the Lutherans, Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons and everyone else.

And the Mennonites …

Okay.

Well, there were … and are … Primitive Baptists. Won’t go there.

Catholics … rare out in the country … if you don’t count “Gone With the Wind”. My college roommate for three years was Catholic and eventually convinced my Baptist mother that they really didn’t have two heads and a tail. They’ve been my second family ever since “then” … (“then” being college …  not my mother’s epiphany).

Seventh Day Adventists … nice people … came from Oklahoma …women don’t wear make-up and they all work hard raising chickens and growing corn.

Mormons … you know, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Well … ask a Baptist minister. He’ll give you the ‘lowdown’ on them.

Lutherans? Sure … protestants … Martin Luther, good guy … right? They’re okay people. Work hard … most of the time. Think they’re Methodists with a red door. Right across the street from the Methodist church. See? Says, Lutheran right on the sign. Sure. One of “us”. A good chunk of my classmates growing up were … Lutherans, all decended from the crowd that originally settled in Newberry, SC.

Mennonites. Whoah!!!

They have a big sign (even if you don’t see it) that says, “Don’t mess with us!” (Imagine the Terminator, aka Arnold, saying that.) “Don’t mess with us!!

… no frills, no buttons, no make-up, black cars, no government “hand outs”, their own schools, big families, lots of kids and work … work … work.

Like I said … the sign, “Don’t mess with us”. (Arnold’s Terminator voice again)

Nice people …really … and great cooks.

Just … don’t mess with ’em.

Okay. This has been my primer on Southern religion where I grew up and what a “mixed marriage” used to mean … and probably more than you wanted to know (or I should have said). And Bill Maher thinks he knows everything about religion? Humph!! Bozo (Maher) …

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Post discourse dialogue:

YOU:

“HEY!!!

Wait a MINUTE!!!!

This is all SOCIAL!!!

This doesn’t have anything to do about religion … or GOD!!!”

ME:

“So …?

Actually, you’re battting .500!

… everything about religion … nothing about GOD.

Exactly.

We all believe in the same GOD … more or less. That’s not the point.”

Joe Biden’s Black Spot

‘Scuze me.

I saw that black spot … or smudge on Biden’s forehead and … I thought … WHAT????

You know … that dark shadow on his forehead at that press conference today. My immediate reaction was …,

“How’d he miss that? Is somethin’ wrong with the lighting? Somebody hit ‘im?(strange … I thought).

Again, … ‘scuze me.

Where I grew up, people just didn’t do that. If the few Catholics that lived in my home county did, I totally missed it. I don’t even remember any in college doing that … and my roommate for 3 years was Catholic.

Oh well …

Happy Lent, Ash Wednesday … or whatever.

P.S.: Joe … repentance …. good idea.

Obama Meets with George Clooney

Now, I know we’re saved. Barack Obama has called out the heavy weight thinkers … like George Clooney.

I know …, thankfully (hopefully) it wasn’t about anything terribly important like the financial meltdown that Obama promoted for two years to get elected. Obama’s political rhetoric for the past two years is proof that, if you say something frequently enough … and enough people believe you, it might actually happen.

A diversion … back to Clooney.

George Clooney is proof that you don’t have to have a college degree to be successful. You simply need what some people might consider a pretty face, a shallow and egocentric personality, the appropriate amount of political correctness, and the good fortune to actually embrace a cause (Dafur) that most people can sympathize with … even if they won’t do anything about it.

Viola!! The perfect recipe for a U.N. “Messenger of Peace”.

This guy isn’t even a good actor. I once asked one of my daughters what she thought of George Clooney. Her response was (while sticking her finger in her mouth and gagging), “He’s the only person that could ruin a ‘Batman’ movie. George Clooney is only good at playing … George Clooney … and he was too shallow and egocentric to be a comic book character.”

In a recent CNN interview, with Joy Behar of “The View” filling in for Larry King, Ms. Bahar, in her typical airhead fashion, asked Ann Coulter if she would turn down a date with George Clooney if he were driving an electric car (Apparently, there was some disagreement over electric cars and Clooney is supposed to make them okay.Wow! Besides, who would want to spend an evening with their date perpetually in front of a mirror?). I think Ms. Coulter dodged the boneheaded question rather artfully and diplomatically, neither insulting Mr. Clooney nor giving Ms. Bahar’s question any credance. Now, Ms. Bahar is proof that even an MA in English doesn’t prevent a person from choosing “style, … or lack thereof, over substance”.

Fortunately, Clooney has been resistant to having children. As far as I can discern, the world continues to be blessed. Maybe his sexual exploits are like his political rhetoric (and acting) … nothing but blanks.

Why Not Suspend “Mark to Market”?

Someone, please … answer this question.

Last Friday evening on Fox News Steve Forbes brought the Mark-to-market accounting issue up again. And, periodically, I hear financial analysts from around the world ask the same question, “Why hasn’t the U.S. suspended the ‘mark to market’ rule?”

Last Friday, Forbes emphatically stated that, if the rule had been in place during the S&L crisis of the 1980’s or the earlier financial crisis at the end of the 1970’s, the financial system would have collapsed at either of those times. So, what’s different now?

I have also heard at least one of the numerous commentators on CNBC mention that both Tim Geithner and Paul Volcker are opposed to suspending the rule. My question is, “Why?”. Explain it.

If 91% of the mortgages are being properly serviced, then  why do they have to be valued the same as the 9 or 10% that aren’t?

Nearly a year ago, I first became familiar with this rule when two accountants mentioned it either on Fox News or CNBC. At the time, they stated that the chairman of the SEC, then Chris Cox, had the power to suspend the rule. Later, last fall, the Senate affirmed that the chairman of the SEC had that power.

But …

The Senate in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 ordered the issue be studied by the SEC, Federal Reserve and Treasury Department with a report due in 90 days. That study was done and the report was announced on 30 December 2008, Congressionally-Mandated Study Says Improve, Do Not Suspend, Fair Value Accounting Standards.

So, all of the “experts” said, “No, it needs improvement so we’re going to let it stand while we study ways to improve it.”

In essence, while Rome burns, the experts want to study fire prevention.

Are these the same experts that thought all of these mortgage back securities and fragmented loans were such a good way to make money when things started changing about 20 years ago or sat idly by … possibly like Tim Geithner did as Governor of the Federal Reserve in New York … while the mess was being made?

My question is, “Why not try to put out the fire … then study ways to prevent it from recurring?”

Steve, I guess your problem is that you got your business education at Princeton instead of “Hahvahd”. Common sense carries little weight when it comes to “theory” and “greed”.

“Mark to market” makes great sense as long as a person doesn’t think there’s ever going to be the consequence of a market downturn, even a temporary one.

So …, What’s Your House Worth Today?

Last night, or night before last, I listened to one of the Fox Business Channel commentators, I think Rebecca Diamond was her name, bemoan the “fact” that her house was now worth less than it was when she bought it, that she had put up a 30% down payment and that was now gone.

I was slightly shocked. This woman actually worked on a business channel and considered herself a “business expert”?

Rebecca Diamond of Fox Business on the Price of Business

First of all, I suppose if Ms. Diamond were planning on selling her home today, she would taking a beating on the price. So … was she planning on selling her home? If not, what’s the problem?

She has a place to live and I presume she can make the mortgage payments as well as cover the other costs of home ownership.

I think this is a classic case of not being able to see the forest for the personal trees called “greed”, “unrealistic expectations” and “lack of perspective”.

If Ms. Diamond bought her home as a simple investment, then she should look at it as a simple investment and consider it as having the same risks as other investments. If you buy a stock at it’s peak, you’re going to loose money if you sell it in its trough. Otherwise, all the gains and losses are simply on paper and will vary from day to day as the market fluctuates. I would presume that Ms. Diamond bought her home as a long term investment, if she considers it an investment, and should take a more long term perspective on the purchase rather than bemoan a market fluctuation that could have been predicted four years ago.

Frankly, I don’t understand people’s irrational thought and behavior about the current housing market. For some reason, now … all of a sudden … house prices are supposed to be “guaranteed”. Tell that to the person who bought a home and business on a U.S. highway just before the interstate system moved the heavy traffic 50 miles away and killed his business as well as the value of his home.

Housing bubbles and land bubbles come and go. Ms. Diamond is probably too young to remember the bubble that burst back at the end of the 1970’s. Back then, at least where I grew up, it was more of a land price bubble. The price of farmland had climbed to $1500 to $1800 an acre where I lived. Suddenly, it was selling for $300 or $400 an acre. The farmers who bought land at the high prices lost their investments and livelihood. And, they lost the money of those they had borrowed from. Does this sound familiar?

Grow up, Ms. Diamond. Better yet, know what you’re talking about … other than your own self pity. Stop being a “talking head”.

H.R. 1: Did the American Public Get the Reader’s Digest Version?

As I heard one member of Congress gleefully retort, “You won’t find it in this bill!!”, during the closing arguments in the House before the final House vote on the amended version of the bill, there’s a lot not to be found in H.R.1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, as published on the Internet.

What’s not to be found are about 1000 plus pages of a Democratic wish list which were originally put before Congress and originally passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. That doesn’t mean it isn’t still there, but carefully concealed in vague words like “science”, “infrastructure”, and “wetlands”. The latter might apply to Ms. Pelosi’s Marsh Rat.

I have a sneaking suspicion that we’ve finally gotten a full blown version of Barack Obama’s “openness” and “transparency” … and the bill is really an abridged Reader’s Digest version of what the Democrats are up to.

So …

Who besides me would like to see the original 1000 or 1500 pages of the original Democratic “wish list” to compare with how the $787 billion actually gets spent?

Addendum:

To read or download the original House version of H.R.1dated 1/28/2009, go to House Version (H.R. 1) .

This is provided by http://readthestimulus.org/index.php?


My Second Argument for Passenger Rail: The Electric Car

Now, with the change in administrations, we’re being told that the electric car is going to be our salvation … as well as the salvation of the Detroit “Big Three” … General Motors, Chrysler and Ford.

Okay. …???

I have a few questions that I’ll preface with some news about a new electric car that was widely publicized last weekend.

This electric car which is being manufactured in southern California, is a three wheeled vehicle which will “go as far as 100 miles on a single charge”. (Then it will have to sit for 8 to 10 hours to be recharged.) It will go from 0 to 90 (mph) in 10 seconds … real zippy. And, it can carry (up to) two passengers, three golf bags and several briefcases (a quote). And that 100 miles per charge is with a full load (all of those items and people listed above).

Okay … well … that’s great.

I live in Charleston, SC and … if I want to go to Folly Beach, Kiawah Island, or Seabrook Island … or even Sullivan’s Island or the Isle of Palms, I can do the round trip. But, what if I want to go to the beach at Edisto Island … about 52 miles away? Oops!!

I guess I’ll have to spend a few hundred dollars to get a room and plan for an overnight stay … or carry the camping gear and stay at the state park there.

If I decide to go to Columbia which is about 115 miles from Charleston, should I carry my camping gear and plan for an overnight trip … and where am I going to “plug in” to recharge? Maybe they’ll install an “outlet strip” at the truck stop on the way there … and I’m not talking about a shopping outlet.

Myrtle Beach is 90 miles away … definitely plan for an overnight … at least. Savannah is 110 miles to the southeast … definitely an overnighter, again, but I can stay at the KOA at Point South to “charge up” and … I hear they have a jacuzzi.

Well …, have I made my first point?

Next …

Has anyone out there bought a replacement battery for your cell phone … or better (worse) yet … for your camcorder? That cell phone battery currently costs about $30 to $40 … and that camcorder battery may set you back over $100. Hey … replace that battery in your laptop and you’re looking at several hundred dollars.

Can you imagine what a battery pack for an automobile will cost? A simple battery (lead acid) to start a conventional automobile will set you back anywhere from $60 to more than $100. What will a nickel cadmium, metal hydride or lithium ion battery that is large enough and powerful enough cost that will power a car? And, they will have to be replaced. And, as the sophistication increases and lack of “memory” decreases, the number of potential recharges decreases and the cost increases.

This electric car that was showcased last weekend will sell for $25,000 to $40,000. How much of that cost is the battery? Something to think about …

And …

Where is all of this electricity going to come from? How is it going to be generated?

Well, disregarding that bolt of lightening that just struck you in the ass, electricity doesn’t just …”poof” … appear.

It has to be generated … from coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power plants.

Hey … wait. “They” say it’s going to be generated from “renewable” sources. Like what … wind, solar, hydroelectric? The environmentalists want “green” sources of energy … sure. Except, they just don’t want it in their backyard … or yours either … if they can see it … or hear it … or if some blind bird might fly into it … or if the power transmission lines might interfere with the migratory path of a desert turtle … or if it inconveniences the salmon. So, what’s left?

And …

How much “more” electricity are these electric automobiles going to require? Has everyone forgotten about “brownouts”? What’s going to happen one summer day when everyone in LA comes home, cranks down the thermostat on their air conditioning and plug their 50 or 100,000 electric automobiles in?

And …

If there are currently about 100 million gas guzzling automobiles being used now, is everyone, in one fell swoop, going to trade in their gasohol burner and get an electric car? I don’t think so. For one thing, a lot of people simply won’t be able to afford them. Second, for a lot of people, an awful lot of people, they are simply impractical.

Unless …

Yes, unless, we have some alternative, convenient and economical form of intermediate and long distance transportation.

And, I don’t think air travel can, or ever will be able to, handle the increase in volume that would ensue from a change from using automobiles for intermediate and long distance travel. Period.

The only logical extension of converting to electric cars is a massive reimplementation of passenger rail … a logical conclusion which is blaringly and evidently lacking in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The funds which have been “vaguely” dedicated to “mass transportaion” and “rail” amount to little more than 1% of the massive spending bill. Maybe it will be part of the next trillion or two the Obama administration and Democratic Congress will eventually spend.

If I’ve made any errors here, someone … please … enlighten me.

By the way, most of the electric cars that I’ve heard about only get about 60 mile to the charge …

Well, scratch a day trip to the Isle of Palms, Kiawah or Seabrook … just too close to call

And General Motors making an electric car …

I don’t think they could make one cheaply enough or charge enough to get out of the debt hole they’re in … well maybe if they charged $100,000 per car.