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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Grace Baptist Church and God's Commandments

I’ve made it almost thru Alabama – I’m so pleasantly surprised at the positive reactions I’m receiving this far south. In Mississippi, I received 11 yeahs to only one fuck you – mean as he was.

The tractor trailer drivers – the big 18 wheeler truckers – have been unanimously positive, with waves, honks, and peace signs! At least 9 to zero positive!

In Alabama, I’ve gotten 22 yeahs, 3 thumbs down (they’re much more polite here to my face!) and only 1 fuck you again, this time from a trucker – boooooo!

I pull into a truckers stop & spot a white van with ‘Grace Baptist Church’ written on the sides parked a couple of spaces away. Only the driver is present as I hop down from my truck, and I feel hostile vibes coming my way.

I spend time inside, leafleting the bathroom & getting hot water for tea. When I’m ready to leave, I notice the whole congregation seems to be heading toward the van & the white man standing there, who is motioning for them to read my truck. He doesn’t appear to see me, but they all mull around reading and muttering to each other.

I get in my truck, back out, and drive over to where they are all standing. It is odd to see so many white folks together here in Alabama – it has seemed that most of the folks on the road & in the store are African American.

I’ve been seeing these billboards down I20 – there are all solid black with white writing – and they are signed ‘god’. There was one in southern California a couple years back that I spotted that said “what part of ‘thou shalt not kill’ don’t you understand?” and it was signed “God”.

On this trip I’ve seen several: one said “Come to my house before you watch the game this Sunday morning”; and “They’re not suggestions; They’re commandments” – all signed “God”

So I approach this group of Christians and much to their chagrin, I say “Hi! Are you the Grace Baptists that are putting up those billboards all along the highway?” Of course, they are all unsure of what I’m talking about, let alone unsure about talking to me at all. I explain “you know, those billboards that say ‘they’re not suggestions, they’re commandments’ and are signed ‘God’. And I think they say ‘Grace Baptist Church’ across the bottom?”

I reiterate: “Are you the Grace Baptist Church folks that believe the commandments are commandments & not suggestions, like ‘thou shalt not kill?’

I can tell they don’t want to answer; they’re shuffling their feet & looking at one another. One brave, pale, older woman (although that could identify all of them except for the female part) smiles broadly and informs me there are probably more Grace Baptist Churches in the country than Dairy Queens…. Hmmmm.

I ask again, if they are not that Grace Baptist, are they christians who believe ‘thou shalt not kill’ is a commandment or a suggestion? They kind of smile smugly as they pile into their van, so obviously avoiding my question. The woman who spoke to me kind of waves her hand dismissively over her ear in a good-bye!

Maybe they’ll think about it. Off to Tessie’s!!!! yeah – almost to Georgia & losing another hour – I’ll be on east coast time! Peace, sam

Mississippi madness

I have driven on I20 through Louisianna into Mississippi. The air stinks & I wonder if it's left over from the hurricane or if it's normal. It especially smells by the rivers - I don't know what river I am crossing but my eyes are smarting it stinks so much.

I stop in Jackson Mississippi, pull into the parking lot & park my truck so my "imprison bush" side is most visible. Driving through Louisianna and Mississippi, I'm getting lots of yeahs! Half the folks on the road are African American, the other half appear to be white.

I don't see many obvious signs of the hurricane but I the land seems dull and there's a air of general bewilderment. Inside the coffee shop, I'm enthusiastically greeted by two young women & a gay white man - he has seen me drive in & is standing with a huge welcoming grin on his face. The young woman, Elisha, whose face the sunrise shown, asks me how I'm feeling this morning - my in for saying "as well as can be expected given who's in the white house". That got me lots of honeys & you know that's right from the women as well as the white guy.

One of the women behind the counter, Elisha, told me she was working at a ritzy hotel when the hurricane struck. She said FEMA had called & reserved ALL their rooms for a year. I'm nodding, impressed, thinking FEMA was providing emergency housing for folks. No, she tells me, they were holding rooms for FEMA - so they had to turn folks who were homeless away - at least the first day or so. FEMA didn't show up - Elisah leans toward me and confesses she let folks stay in their rooms. Hell, she says, we let 'em sleep in the halls, on the sofas in the reception room, wherever they could.

She went on to tell me how the hotel staff served breakfast every morning - even tho FEMA wasn't there yet, breakfast was part of the package! She thought they fed about 150 people every morning. When FEMA did arrive - all three of the workers chimed in then with disgust - they came in spanking new vehicles with top of the line individual lap tops & phones and all this hi-tech stuff - not to mention their clothes. The contrast between FEMA honchos and the folks was pathetic.

The other woman, who hadn't seen my truck pull in, has gone out to view it. She comes back, leans across the counter, grabs my hands & pulls me into her. "Those are the words are from my heart" she says firmly as she hugs me & our tears flow, "I love you because you have written what I believe, what is in my heart! Thank you so much."

I give the women flyers & urge them to start CodePINK in Jackson Mississippi - I hope I can come back to visit when I return, altho I do not like this southern route so much.