Celestial Lands The Religious Crossroads of Politics, Power, and Theology

Across this Nation

This week, my wife and I drove from the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago to the town of Cullman Alabama, between Huntsville and Birmingham, to visit family. Specifically, we were there to visit her sister and brother-in-law, and her two nephews. It was a good visit, even if I thought that swimming with the 9 year old was going to kill me… I’m not as young as I once was.

Next week, I will be driving across this nation again, going from Chicago to San Antonio to attend the Combat Medical Ministry course at Ft. Sam Houston.

Now, living in Hyde Park, the neighborhood of Barrack Obama, it is impossible to get away from this historic campaign. In the town of the church I have served this past year, there is an Obama sign in about every yard. Living here, it is hard to know that there is anyone other than Barrack Obama running for President.

I expected the exact opposite experience when I arrived in Cullman Alabama. Now, I am a son of the South. I went to middle school and high school in Knoxville, Tennessee, and my family has lived there for generations. While growing up a military brat, Knoxville was always our mythical home. I lived for years in Galveston Texas. Though seminary may have taken this boy out of the South (for a while) it can not take the South out of the boy.

So, I expected to see McCain campaign signs everywhere. I expected to see signs proclaiming Barrack Obama to be a Muslim, and I expected to see those “W” circle stickers on cars all around me.

Now, I did see plenty of billboards that said “HELL IS REAL”, and one that said “TURN OR BURN”, but I did not see a single McCain sign or bumpersticker. Not a one. I was looking. I saw a sign for the Creationism Museum, but I did not see any signs in people’s yards for anything other than local political elections.

I did see a few Obama stickers on cars in Alabama, and even a yard sign for Obama in Cullman. I had a conversation with a life long Alabaman about how he was going to vote for a Democrat again, for the first time since Carter. As I watched the Democratic National Convention in my hotel room, I saw a group of burly road construction workers listening to it while they sat outside their rooms drinking. There were four of them… two black and two white.

Now, the pace and the energy is slower in the South. I know this. My southern heritage is what keeps me from wearing myself out with all of the projects and ministries I take on. Even my computer slowed down while I was there. Yet I felt an undercurrent in Cullman that I have never felt before… that perhaps we are more united in the adversity that we face in these times… black, white, and latino… northern, southern, and western… Perhaps these hard times are doing something that has up till now seemed inconceivable.

Perhaps we are realizing that we are not that different after all.

Yours in Faith,


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