Will Campbell

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Will Campbell

Postby Lamar Wadsworth » Tue Jun 04, 2013 11:25 am

Just read the news that Will Campbell has died at age 88 from complications of a stroke he suffered two years ago. There will never be another like him--a hero of the civil rights movement who reached out to befriend the most virulent racists, powerful preacher and writer, gracious and good man.

As a writer who has not yet achieved any great commercial success, I always liked Will's description of himself as "a writer of rare books." He was a friend of the guy who drew the Kudzu comic strip (whose name escapes me at the moment) and the inspiration for the character of Reverend Will B. Dunn in the Kudzu strip.
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Re: Will Campbell

Postby Dave Roberts » Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:55 pm

I am sorry to hear of his passing. He was quite a prophetic figure among Baptists.

Kudzu was done by Doug Marlette. Rev. Will B. Done was the mixture of Will Campbell and James Dunn.
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Bill Leonard on Will Campbell

Postby Stephen Fox » Tue Jun 04, 2013 3:16 pm

http://abpnews.com/opinion/item/8554-th ... a5KRLEo45s

I have been following tributes on Charles Marsh and Todd Heifner's facebook wall as well and told a few stories myself though I was not in the inner circle.

Proud of Lamar for being the first to post the news here.

You know Marshall Frady, one of my heroes devoted ten pages to Will in his stout look at Billy Graham a Parable of American Righteousness in 79.

I first saw Will at Furman in 72, and then a strong impression in 74. Caught him again early 90's at Furman pastor's school when he had the group rollin.

Many stories to come. I hear he will be cremated with a Memorial service to come in Nashville later in the month.
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Richard Marius on Will Campbell

Postby Stephen Fox » Tue Jun 04, 2013 3:23 pm

Will transcended the Baptist fight but did participate at a few key moments. Here is a post mortem anecdote from Marius raised Baptist in East Tennessee and taught at UTenn and was at Harvard when he died. See his letter to me in the History section of this site.

Marius wrote the Dec 81 Esquire piece on early days of the Fundy takeover, before it was a sure thing.

He most likely woulda been the speech writer in an Al Gore presidency had Gore won and NYC politics tanked him.

Shaun Casey shared this story couple hours ago on the facebook wall of Fisher Humphreys Nephew and Bonhoeffer scholar Charles Marsh of UVA:

The late Richard Marius told me a hilarious episode in which he took Will to lunch at the Harvard Faculty Club and Will requested a spittoon! The legend may prove even larger than the character in Will's case.
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Re: Richard Marius on Will Campbell

Postby KeithE » Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:26 pm

Stephen Fox wrote:Will transcended the Baptist fight but did participate at a few key moments.


The Convention, a Parable by Will Campbell first published in 1988 places him clearly on the Moderate side especially wrt women in ministry (at that key moment). I remember reading and enjoying the humor soon after becoming a Southern Baptist. It mentions the takeover party of Pressler, Patterson (and adds Criswell to that list) - see pages 92-96. You can order it for 0.01+postage. It ranks up there with Clayton Sullivan’s Jesus and the Sweet Gum Baptist Church and Lamar Wadsworth’s The Spirit of the Covenant. All humorous takes at the SBC’s ways. We will have to wait to see if Remembering Miss Addie is as good.
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Re: Will Campbell

Postby Haruo » Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:10 am

Andrew Greeley died, too. It's not just a Baptist affliction.
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Re: Will Campbell

Postby Lamar Wadsworth » Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:05 am

I must say that I am honored to have my first novel mentioned in the same paragraph with the works of Clayton Sullivan and Will Campbell. Remembering Miss Addie is set in 1998. The fundamentalist takeover is a done deal by then, and we move on to the disintegration oof the Mintz County Baptist Association. Harrington Baptist has already been kicked out of the association after licensing Cassie McWhorter to preach, but the young pastor at Taylor's Crossroads says that they plan to stay in fellowship with Harrington BC no matter what the association does. Peyton's Chapel and Cassie deal with bullying and threats from the moderator of the association when the church calls Cassie as pastor.
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Re: Will Campbell

Postby KeithE » Wed Jun 05, 2013 5:43 pm

Haruo wrote:Andrew Greeley died, too. It's not just a Baptist affliction.

And so did Dallas Willard and one of my personal favorites Brennan Manning.
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Re: Will Campbell

Postby KeithE » Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:20 pm

Lamar Wadsworth wrote:I must say that I am honored to have my first novel mentioned in the same paragraph with the works of Clayton Sullivan and Will Campbell. Remembering Miss Addie is set in 1998. The fundamentalist takeover is a done deal by then, and we move on to the disintegration oof the Mintz County Baptist Association. Harrington Baptist has already been kicked out of the association after licensing Cassie McWhorter to preach, but the young pastor at Taylor's Crossroads says that they plan to stay in fellowship with Harrington BC no matter what the association does. Peyton's Chapel and Cassie deal with bullying and threats from the moderator of the association when the church calls Cassie as pastor.

I can honestly say I enjoyed Spirit of the Covenant as well as The Convention and better than Sweet Gum. My wife also enjoyed Spirit of the Covenant.
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The Resurrection of Will Campbell

Postby Stephen Fox » Thu Jun 06, 2013 11:45 am

I'm working on a perfected version of this story but gonna tell it best I can.

I texted the Son of Richard Nixon's Barber, the honorable Jim Pitts, longtime now retired Chaplain at Furman to get his version but he said his memory bank was nill. But there were a hundred other folks in the room in early 90's at Furman pastor's school, and I'm sure it was not the only place Will Told it. Had the religion faculty of Furman and a hundred Baptist preacher and laypeople--no other way to say it--laughing their asses off. I remember it was in the stadium seating lecture hall in what then was the new Music recital hall at Furman.

Will Says: Fellas I got to tell you about the time I rose again on the Third Day. Had an operation in Jackson, Mississippi just a few years ago--I took it less than five --by the best surgeon in our state. Before I get the gas from the anesthesiologist, the surgeon says Will you know my politics aren't much different from Daddy's and he was the Head of the White Citizens Council in the throes of the 60s where you got famous, but I have no intention of you going to the other world here on my watch.

Will says best for you son you bring me back cause David Halberstam and Marshall Frady and the NEw York Times will be down here on Monday all over your ass and it will be a hell of a story given our History. Would be bad for your practice in the long run so you do the best you can to revive me when the time comes.

Will says they dosed me on a Friday, and just Like our Blessed Saviour, I rose again on Sunday Morning for the Glory of God!!!
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Marshall Frady; and Will in his own words

Postby Stephen Fox » Thu Jun 06, 2013 2:36 pm

I heartily recommend not just for early Will only but for other notable characters the revised standard version of Marshall Frady's Southerners. Great for any personal library especially for folks like me and Lamar Wadsworth, even Thornton.

And here is Class Will D. Campbell in his on words.

http://abpnews.com/opinion/commentaries ... bDkHIwo45s
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My friend Todd Heifner testifies

Postby Stephen Fox » Fri Jun 07, 2013 4:05 pm

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"Midget, Broom; Helluva campaign". Political consultant, "Oh, Brother..."


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Great sermon on Will preached yesterday

Postby Stephen Fox » Mon Jun 10, 2013 3:22 pm

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Another Shaun Casey story

Postby Stephen Fox » Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:07 pm

From Charles Marsh's facebook wall:

Charles,
As I thought about Will Campbell all day I remembered that one of my congregants in Brandon, MS back in 80s was J.C. Redd, founder and owner of Redd Pest Control (one sure fire route to riches in Mississippi was to be on the cutting edge of the battle against roaches and fire ants). JC grew up on the farm adjacent to the Campbell farm and also next to the farm Jerry Clower grew up. The fact that these three Mississippi legends grew up farm to farm to farm is proof that God moves in mysterious ways.
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Marsh remembrance

Postby Stephen Fox » Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:09 pm

In the summer of 1994, I recorded three hours of interviews in Will's writing shack, shucking corn and trying to chew tabacco. When I got to my motel later that evening, I realized I had just learned my first lesson in doing oral history: never place your microcasette recorder next to an air conditioning unit. The sound of a roaring ocean was only occasionally interrupted by a perfectly framed explectitve and once the phrase, "I didn't give a rat's *** what that *** thought about me".
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Twist on the resurrection story

Postby Stephen Fox » Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:49 pm

"I'm the only sane {person} in here." Doyle Hargraves, Slingblade
"Midget, Broom; Helluva campaign". Political consultant, "Oh, Brother..."


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Re: Twist on the resurrection story

Postby TrudyU » Tue Jun 11, 2013 8:23 am

Stephen Fox wrote:http://www.abpnews.com/blog/blog-posts/my-connection-with-the-rev-will-d-campbell-2013-06-10/#.UbZJNIwo45s
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Re: Twist on the resurrection story

Postby Haruo » Tue Jun 11, 2013 9:55 am

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GReat tribute

Postby Stephen Fox » Wed Jun 12, 2013 12:47 pm

"I'm the only sane {person} in here." Doyle Hargraves, Slingblade
"Midget, Broom; Helluva campaign". Political consultant, "Oh, Brother..."


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Will in Wake Forest or Greensborol

Postby Stephen Fox » Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:01 pm

Where was the Campus of Wake Forest College when Will was a student in late 40s.

Was rereading good portion of Brother to a Dragonfly over the weekend and the question occurred to me
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Re: Will Campbell

Postby Stephen Fox » Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:03 pm

Wiki says Wake moved to WSalem in 56, but I thought my Dad and Randall Lolley and Bill Self had the Wake Forest campus to themselves in seminary as early as fall of 53.
"I'm the only sane {person} in here." Doyle Hargraves, Slingblade
"Midget, Broom; Helluva campaign". Political consultant, "Oh, Brother..."


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Christian Century on Will Campbell

Postby Stephen Fox » Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:08 pm

"I'm the only sane {person} in here." Doyle Hargraves, Slingblade
"Midget, Broom; Helluva campaign". Political consultant, "Oh, Brother..."


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Methodist tribute to Will

Postby Stephen Fox » Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:39 pm

"I'm the only sane {person} in here." Doyle Hargraves, Slingblade
"Midget, Broom; Helluva campaign". Political consultant, "Oh, Brother..."


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Memorial Service

Postby Stephen Fox » Mon Jun 24, 2013 3:10 pm

I wanted to be there but didn't make it. Friend gave me a report Sunday afternoon. Said one of the many highlights was Waylon Jennings wife Jessi Colter, who I think was a preacher's daughter, sang His Eye is On the Sparrow. Almost all the speakers said something of their connection to Will, but Jessi said: "I don't know how to tell you, so I'll just sing."

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20130 ... al-service
"I'm the only sane {person} in here." Doyle Hargraves, Slingblade
"Midget, Broom; Helluva campaign". Political consultant, "Oh, Brother..."


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Will Campbell in the Ft Payne Times Journal

Postby Stephen Fox » Tue Jul 09, 2013 11:00 am

Here is a piece I submitted to the TJ published July 3.


Letters for Publication
The Times-Journal
Ft. Payne Alabama

The Editors:

September 27, 1978 I purchased a copy of Will Campbell's Brother to A Dragonfly. I was pretty much spellbound reading second month in Knoxville, Tn after sixteen years in Gaffney, South Carolina the last ten years of which stay had a strong undercurrent of church and school race politics.
I first became acquainted with Will the fall of 73 when the Chaplains brought him to Furman. Then later began to understand the impression he made on Marshall Frady and I was pretty much a disciple.
Will died June 3. If you read the several reports about him in NY Times, Bham News,ABPnews.com and baptistlife.com you get an inkling of his significance. Campbell was the only white man to show up at the Lorraine Motel and be embraced without question the night Martin Luther King was assassinated yet he was a friend of Sam Bowers, the man who was the archetype for the evil Klan genius in the movie Mississippi Burning.
Present at his June 22 Memorial service outside Nashville was John Siegenthaler, friend of the Kennedy administration and longtime friend of Campbell and editor of the Nashville Tennessean. Waylon Jennings widow sang His Eye is on The Sparrow.
Will was on stage in Montgomery in the late 90s with some Collinsville 8th graders including the oldest son of one of the wealthiest and politically influential man in the town, several outstanding Hispanics from first wave of influx into the community and several others of color for which Collinsville has been historically known in DeKalb Coouty of NE Alabama.
It was a function of the Pacers project of the University of Alabama. Will Campbell was a mentor to Jack Shelton, the founder of the program. And then Collinsville principal Sammy Clanton was statewide president of the Pacers Project for Rural schools.
When I brought all this to the attention of the local Historical Association on their facebook wall, it stoked a process that led to my being blocked from participation on that site. I hope in a few weeks they will reconsider their mistake. I am willing to meet with the most fairminded of their group and hopefully be readmitted in good standing in that conversation I have come to enjoy most of the time.
In this 50th anniversary of Civil Rights struggle in Alabama I earlier also brought to the community's attention an online story of 2002 in the LA Times about the walk of William Moore through DeKalb County in April 1963. That reminder got some hazing as well.
That is sad, but in some ways understandable given the analysis of Wayne Flynt and a UGA proff in an excelled and easily googled piece at WBHM.org on the 50th anniversary of George Wallace stand in the schoolhouse door as reported June 11.
In that piece Flynt said:
"I think Wallace’s lasting legacy is the polarization that has made Alabama to this day not only the most conservative of American states but also most racially polarized."
Wayne Flynt is a former history professor at Auburn University and is the author ofAlabama: The History of a Southern State.
"In the 2008 presidential election between Obama and John McCain Alabama had the most divided populace of any state in the United States. 98% of African Americans voted for Barack Obama and more than 90% of whites voted for John McCain."

REcently I was rereading a late 90's pamphlet of the Baptist Historical Society, the whole issue devoted to a take on Baptists and the Civil Rights Movement. It was noted than even as late as the 90s Civil Rights history was rarely mentioned in white Baptist churches, and when it was pastors often reported frowns in the congregation.

Now these folks in Collinsville aren't bad people. There are only about 7 folks out of the 2,000 or so in South Dekalb County hard for me to get along with and I hope this opinion piece doesn't double that number. But when what passes for what one woman called the local "aristocracy" is so averse to honest history, what hope is there for integrity in social studies education and a more informed electorate.

That is where Ben Shurett's good piece on Frank Rose and the school house door may have a lesson for this region of NE Bama. Shurett said:

In his obit in 91, it was said of Rose: "The University President who described himself as neither a seg or an integrationist, but a realist, had vowed to ensure obedience to the laws and peace on the campus". I hope to advance that notion with an analogy to the CHA in my submission to the TJ. Shurett said in those days he met Bobby Kennedy, Katzenbach and Wallace, the man who embodied the folly of backward thinking. End of quote

In the conundrum of the White moderate in the South, sooner or later, somebody has to risk advancing the conversation for the common good, for something better. That is where Will Campbell made a much bigger difference than Frank Rose, though Frank Rose was a good man. And that is what seems to be lacking in Collinsville, Alabama, folks who can maintain good standing in the community while pointing out discrepancies between what passes for the best in the community holds as their image and actual practice, and the places where that image stifles others who may have just as much or more character and ability than themselves seeks to engage the conversation causes unnecessary resentments.
My family on my Mother's side goes back back to the 1840s in the Collinsville vicinity. My Great Grandfather was born in 1841 and buried in Rocky Mounty cemetery. I look forward to being back on the Historical Association Faceback wall soon.
"I'm the only sane {person} in here." Doyle Hargraves, Slingblade
"Midget, Broom; Helluva campaign". Political consultant, "Oh, Brother..."


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