I’m watching the election results. The red and blue states look like a weather map—only more patriotic. The man on television points to the Southeast. He places his hand on top my house. He calls this the Bible Belt.
I guess he’s right. When I was six, the preacher patted me on the back, saying, “Congratulations, son, you’re born again.”
To celebrate, Mama took me out for ice cream. I ordered three scoops of vanilla with crushed peanuts. I went down for salvation the next three Sundays in a row.
My people have lived in The ‘Belt a long damn time. We’re feisty. And we share a particular fondness for certain man whose name we write on billboards, bumper stickers, neon signs, and barns.
But he’s no politician.
Folks even use his name in fistfights. Once I saw a fight in a beer-joint. A fella landed his fist on the jaw of a young man. The kid went down like a sack of yams.
The boy crawled onto his feet. With a mouthful of blood, he quoted the Red Words. Then, he offered the other side of his face.
The other man glared. Then he started crying.
So did I.
In rural Alabama, I once attended a revival service. It was a place where folks handled snakes. I didn’t think places like that existed. They do.
A twelve-year-old yanked a snake out of an aquarium and held it. I nearly soaked my britches.
A woman beside me said, “Relax, honey. It ain’t got poison fangs no more. Besides, God’s bigger than snakes.”
Just a few months ago, I attended the funeral of a friend. He was a hospital chaplain. Within his thirty-year career, he’d held thousands of dying hands.
A young girl cried over his open casket. She placed a leather-bound book inside. I introduced myself.
She was an ex-drug-addict. She’d almost died once. He’d sat beside her hospital bed—played cards with her, read her stories.
She said, “When I thought I was gonna die, he just kept saying, ‘It’s gonna be okay. God loves you, darling.'”
I don’t know why I’m writing this. You have no reason to care what Joe Bible-Belt says on such an historic day.
But we just elected the President. It was an ugly campaign. Both groups played dirty pool.
Now that it’s over, I’m inclined to say: I don’t give a cuss who sits in that circular office, promising to make the world a better place.
They don’t have anything on boys who turn the other cheek, born-again drug addicts, or hospital chaplains.