Granny & Pap

My Granny’s Hands

  I dreamed of my grandmother’s hands. It was an odd dream since Granny Leona has been dead a long time now. Even when she was alive, my days spent with her were few. I grew up in Georgia, a good day’s drive from where Granny lived in Church Hill, Tennessee. The town gets its name because it is just what it says it is – an Appalachian hill town with a church sitting upon its tallest spot. Granny Leona was a cripple woman. That’s what folks in East Tennessee referred to her as: … [Read More...]

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People of the Struggle

Resurrections are on my mind this week. Yours, too? Specifically, I've been doing a lot of thinking about personal resurrections. I happened upon a quote by Loren Eiseley that has got me to pondering. Perhaps you have heard it? We are rag dolls made out of many ages and skins, changelings who have slept in wood nests or hissed in the uncouth guise of waddling amphibians.  We have played such roles for infinitely longer ages than we have been men.  Our identity is a dream.  We are process, … [Read More...]

FNG: Fine Nice Gal’s Run For the Wall

  Ten years ago, I joined my father's medic for a cross-country trip, via motorcycle. I've written about that excursion in a Kindle book. FNG: Fine Nice Gal's Run for the Wall is now available. Gold-Star daughter Karen Spears Zacharias was not born to be wild but that didn't stop … [Read More...]

Hoe it out

  My daughter and her family are preparing to move to a new community after nearly a decade in the same town. She originally went to Spokane, Wa. to attend law school at Gonzaga. She had a change of mind and heart after a year. Spokane has been a good place to live, if one could ever … [Read More...]

Take the Army’s Word for It: Fort Hood’s Second Shooting

Not a direct precipitating factor. That's the official word out of Fort Hood. Lt. General Mark Milley said the shooter - Ivan Lopez - mental condition was not a direct precipitating factor. Lopez went on a rampage, killing his fellow soldiers, because of an escalating argument, Milley … [Read More...]

Weatherford Award for Fiction

In late February, four short weeks ago now, a letter arrived in my inbox.   I was on the phone with a big city New York agent working out details for another literary event, for another author, when I clicked open the email from Jason Howard, editor of the Appalachian Heritage at Berea College … [Read More...]

Starve a Child, Save a Gay

I was in Nashville when the text message arrived: "Have you kept up with what's going on with World Vision?" Only barely, I replied. I'm on the road. Prior to heading out of Seattle earlier this week I had read a story about World Vision's decision to hire Christians in Same-Sex marriages. … [Read More...]

Fred Phelps: Life of Fear

I'm not proud of it but there have been people I have hated in my life. Not many, mind you, and not in a long while. I can only remember one or two of them, but I am sure there were more. None of the people I came to hate were old lovers. Thankfully, I never really went through all that drama … [Read More...]

Making Jesus Famous

There is a new phraseology making the rounds in Evangelical circles. I've heard it said several times as of late. It is meant to be a form of encouragement, I suppose, although, to be honest I'm never sure why these oddities pop up the way they do. If I had to guess, I'd say that the phrase is a … [Read More...]

Libraries and Bookstores

  Truck drivers have their greasy diners. Artists have their pristine galleries. Meth addicts have their flop houses. Cops have their coffee shops. Journalists have their cubicles. Priests have their abbeys. Rock Stars have their tour buses. Authors have libraries … [Read More...]

The Devil Walks in Mattingly

    Publication day can be one of the loneliest of all days, says Dani Shapiro. Writers lock themselves for days, years on end, piece-stitching a story together letter by letter, word by word, punctuation mark by punctuation mark. And that's just the first draft of a story. … [Read More...]

Doing Nothing for the Least of Us

Not a one of them called Children Services. People walked over top the young woman, pushed by her obviously impaired self, ignored the child sitting on the seat across from her mama, and did nothing. Nothing. They did not offer help, to the mother or the child. They did not suggest that … [Read More...]

Not God’s Tools

  I had stayed too long, visiting. Not an uncommon occurrence for me. He  - Jelani Greenidge - had pulled his chair up next to mine and introduced himself. Said his wife wouldn't forgive him if he didn't. We were friends of sort already, before gathering over Chipotle chicken in the … [Read More...]

Woken by the SWAT alarm

  Typically, this time of year, I wake to the sound of mourning doves cooing outside my bedroom window. They are sweet and always remind me of Hunter Mendenhall, a Pearl Harbor survivor, who was the father of one of my dearest friends. Hunter grew up in the backwoods of Alabama. So far … [Read More...]