America’s New Civil War Can Be Stopped


In seeking some understanding of this issue, I am reading blogs from different people in the know on all sides of this issue. I want to be better informed. In that spirit, I offer yout the blog of Jeffrey Pugh, Professor of Religious Studies at Elon University in Elon, N.C. Please take what he has to offer in the spirit of seeking a better, wider perspective on the issues before us. Right now would be a good time for a community-wide study on the real deal of the Civil War… not its politicizing.

It was hard to see at first, but if you looked deeply past the swaggering, strutting, smirking and smug arrogance, the fear was visible in their eyes.

I’m not even sure they were aware of it, but it was there buried in their shouted slogans, angry and distorted faces. Fear is what possessed them to have so much artillery, so many guns, so many other explosives in their vests that no one in the media even now is talking about.

I saw them up close, standing right across the sidewalk from me. What madness brought this small and powerless band of clergy misfits to the front lines of America’s growing civil war? Why did I consent to standing here singing “This Little Light of Mine” while getting screamed at, called names, threatened with being punched or worse, and enduring the endless shouts of “f–k off f—-ts”?

Wish I knew the answer. I’m no hero, not a brave person. The Muslim woman on the line was the brave one; the Jewish brother wearing the yarmulke was the hero. I’m just an old man who doesn’t want his grandchildren to inherit a world where hate and fear rule our days.

I was not entirely ready for beating or arrest when the Nazis came to Charlottesville, but all of those misfits on the line singing about light knew it was a possibility. I saw the potential for much worse in the eyes of those I stood in front of because fear does that — it creates such chaos in our hearts that we desire to draw others into it because no one wants to live in that space alone.

Fear is a parasite that feeds on itself. It doesn’t have to take you unless you invite it in. It will batter at the door until you feel you’re losing it, but ultimately it can’t set up residence unless you invite it in for a spell.

And, oddly enough (and I realize I’m going to lose many of you here), this is when the compassion kicked in. As I stared at the spittle-flecked faces frothing hate in front of me, I was looking at separated sisters and brothers. We were not created for this moment, we were meant for something better than a standoff on dirty streets in a hot, sticky, thick-aired day.

When did fear and hate take them captive, imprison them so deep into their jails that they don’t even know they’ve already lost, no matter how much space — Lebensraum — in this world they think they need? Lost boys so fearful of losing their power to determine the world they will murder others with a car cannot be our future.

Heather Heyer’s memory deserves better than that. I struggled deeply with grace on Saturday, because what I would withhold from murderous souls, God continually offers.

But, make no mistake, the responsibility for our being on the streets of Charlottesville was not the Antifa folks, not the raggedy band of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and Atheists linking arms and singing about light. We are not the ones whispering in the ears of those who have every privilege denied to people of color that “those people” are trying to take what rightfully belongs to you.

Those who are inciting this are still behind the curtain, but they are cloaked with systems of power and wealth that bring this madness to our door. They could cut this short, but they chose not to. The shame of it is that they are bringing the coliseum they put us in to wage war down on their own heads.

There will be more to come because this is our life now. Charlottesville was only one of the fronts of America’s new civil war. It can be stopped, but it’s going to take millions of people to show up and tell their lost brothers and sisters that there is enough for everyone if they will only resist the fear and hatred seeking to infect their hearts.

I have often heard that the land doesn’t belong to us, we belong to the land, and if this true, we also belong to each other. That’s the story we need to be telling one another now because that’s our only way out of this.

Jeffrey Pugh ( is the Maude Sharpe Powell Professor of Religious Studies at Elon University in Elon, N.C.

Grace and Peace



Advice From an Old Farmer


Tonight I would like to share some words from days gone by which I rediscovered today… these words are so practical, down to earth, and full of common sense I couldn’t help myself but share them with you. The reason I want to share them with you is each one sounds like a wonderful sermon title in a series of sermons on “Advice From an Old Farmer.” Take a moment – or longer – stop at each one and imagine the sermon you would write or need to hear from each word of advice.

My hope is that the advice from an old farmer will be so real and practical that it will help us all to laugh, perhaps cry, but more than that help us to see our real walk with Jesus as he leads us to walk alongside our brothers and sisters in this world of need.

Please remember to take time to ponder….

  • Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
  • Keep skunks and finance companies at a distance.
  • Life is simpler when you …plow around the stump.
  • A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
  • Words that soak into your ears are whispered… not yelled.
  • Meanness don’t jes’ happen overnight.
  • Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.
  • Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.
  • It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.
  • You cannot unsay a cruel word.
  • Every path has a few puddles.
  • When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.
  • The best sermons are lived, not preached.
  • Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never gonna happen anyway.
  • Don’t judge folks by their relatives.
  • Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  • Live a good, honorable life… Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.
  • Don ‘t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t bothering you none.
  • Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a Rain dance.
  • If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.
  • Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
  • The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin’.
  • Always drink upstream from the herd.
  • Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
  • Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.
  • If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around..
  • Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply.
  • Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.
  • Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.

Dear Lord, help me to have enough common sense, humility, compassion and grace that I may allow you to live through me as you lead me to those in need around me. Help me always to listen to the wisdom of the advice of an old farmer, in and through Jesus. Amen.

Grace and Peace



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