And Don stood up, with great emotion, to speak about the loss of his son. And then, to everyone’s astonishment announced that he would not sign the petition. And no one should either. And the reason, he said, was that the whole meaning of this incident and this death was being misunderstood by everyone. And that it had nothing to do with railroad companies or the disrespect shown to people living on the river bottom. Don said that he believed that his son had died because God had wanted this boy’s great goodness to be with God in heaven. And his son had died to punish him, Don, because his love of this boy had come to rival and even eclipse his worship of God. And that there was a lesson here about the larger meaning and plan behind all events, even when they seemed so horrific and painful.
But he did tell me how the split had happened in the larger church. It has happened when my co-worker Don and Ron (the twin holly rollers of the Jimmy Swaggert camp) had asked to come preach (as often happens in these church circuits). And when they got to the podium they had launched a huge attack on the reactionary campaign this church was waging. I later learned that Don had spoken quite boldly (given the times and the kinds of red-baiting going on) about working with me, and knowing my wife, and learning what our views were. And without, for a second (!), retreating from his own, very extreme and conservative views, he tore into (and he could be scorching!) how ignorant and wrong it was to launch a campaign against people active in the cause of working people.
And by the time he was done, folks in that congregation who were uneasy about all this, were embolded to walk out. And the folks left behind were never able to escalate their attacks on us any further.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
New Communist Movement working-class colonization
I've just finished Max Elbaum's Revolution in the Air and will likely have something to write about it sometime in the next few days. Meanwhile, here are an interesting couple of stories from Mike Ely, who was active in the RCP in the 70s, about the role of religion among his fellow coal-miners: