Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Then the Bubble Burst
So, I graduated Seminary with 8 years of multicultural and inter-racial relationships, albiet in the contest of Christian Education. I began my life as a pastor in small town Mississippi in Crystal Springs. About 5000 good folks and two or three onery cusses, as the southern hometown signs often said.
And, instantly, the only relationship I had with blacks was with the cleaning maid at the Church, Johnnie Mae Johnson. From the early sixties to the mid seventies, and my life was once again segregated for all practical purposes.
I would later analyse that for the first time since going to College, I was back in the world that was the old south. I had four years in an evangelical bubble called Christian College, and three years in a evangelical and reformed bubble called seminary, and now I was back in Mississippi, where the social revolution that was the civil rights movement had very little effect on the way of life in small towns in the south.
I sort of understood it though, for the education and poverty levels in that area were severe. I visited Johnie Mae in her home and they had no heat but a fireplace and the coals from the fire literally rolled out to the floor. She had me preach in her church once, and I had another cultural shock. I was about to preach and I said, "Let us pray" in my typically Presbyterian manner, and suddenly the whole church took me up on the offer and began to pray in a beautiful spiritual cacophany of sound.