Jan 132017

Dear Mr. Burgess:

I am writing you regarding your daughter Brandi’s recent disclosures of both her sexuality and your interactions about it.

I realize this is probably not a discussion you would have preferred to have in public. However, it’s where we are, and it may ultimately be a blessing.

We’ve walked a lot of the same roads, you and I. I was a few years behind you at Oxford High School, but I was there. We surely had common teachers. We may have had common friends. It’s even possible we shared a service or two together, as my time at Oxford coincided with my attendance at Southern Baptist churches. I spent most of my time at Greenbrier Road, but found myself at Meadowbrook or Trinity from time to time too.

Like you, I heard truly good men denounce homosexuality. Like you, I heard and felt their sincerity. Like you, I received their scriptural justifications.

What if they were wrong? I mean, that’s certainly possible, isn’t it? Think about what our faith has to offer.  Consider all of the wonderful things Christians all over the world do in His name, in an effort to be His hands and feet.  Think of His grace.  Think of His compassion.

Jesus is pretty good at telling us what’s important to Him.  He tells us a lot about helping others for its own sake.  He tells us of service with no expectation of reciprocation.  He tells us of giving.  He tells us of modesty. I cannot document anywhere that He had a single word to say about homosexuality.  Please, take that into your heart.  Think about it.  Pray about it.

I’ll play devil’s advocate as well, though.  Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that it is a sin.  A woman taking a woman as her spouse, or a man taking a man, is sinning just by doing that.

So what? If it is a sin, it’s just another one. Are any of us without it?

Mr. Burgess, from time to time, a representative of this evangelical church or that will knock on my door.  Almost all of them open their spiel with hell.  “If you were to die tonight, do you know where you would go?” is common.  They like to say “hellfire” and “damnation,” and sometimes I’ll even get one who’s fond of “brimstone.”

And my first thought is always the same.  “You and I share this incredible faith—this faith of kindness, grace, and service—and you’re leading with this?”

I feel exactly the same way about Christians, purporting to act in the name of Jesus, who lead with anti-homosexuality.  Even if you believe the Bible tells you God disapproves of homosexuality, is that really one of the most interesting things about the Bible?

Is this a hill worth dying on? What makes homosexuality worth the disproportionate attention it receives?

Mr. Burgess, Brandi is still your sweet baby girl. Her sexuality is no more separable from her than her sense of humor, or her eye color.

Please consider—prayerfully and at length—that your love for Brandi may well be entirely consistent with her sexuality. Please consider that Jesus told us to love the Lord, and to love our neighbors as ourselves, and that this is a complete list of the “greatest commandments.”

Please consider—prayerfully and at length—that the eventual epiphany here may be yours, not hers.

I hold you and Brandi both up in prayer as you navigate these difficult seas. May God be with you, sir, and thank you for reading.

In Christ,
Bo Williams

 Posted by at 10:42 pm
Jan 122017
  • Congratulations to Clemson on winning its first football national championship since 1981. I’d have rather Alabama won it, of course, but of all the teams who could have it instead, I may mind Clemson the least. I’m very happy for my long-suffering friend Cheryl!
  • Aaron asked me last night “how long ’til IndyCar?” Too long, buddy. Too long. (Two months from today.)
  • When I was in the fourth grade the Atari 2600 was out there, but hadn’t quite barnstormed the world yet. Dedicated handheld (or occasionally tabletop) electronic games were at least as popular—the Mattel Electronics sports games, Merlin, Simon, things like that. I remember these toys costing $30-50 each in 1979 dollars. That’s $100-$166 today. Wow. I was going to say our folks were nuts sending eight- and nine-year-olds all over creation with these things, but we’re doing the same thing today. Even the inflation works.
  • We missed our first Upward Saturday on a day that it not only didn’t snow, but was actually sunny for most of it. Now it was 22º—but we don’t play outside. Hmph. We’ll get going this weekend.
  • I don’t much care for this rainy/cloudy mid-60s vibe we have going right now. It’s quite un-January. Dissonant.
  • I’ve been intrigued by the idea of subscription boxes, in which you pay a small-but-not-insignificant amount of money to subscribe to monthly shipments that contain…well, you’re not exactly sure, but there are different ones for different interests, and the ones that persevere tend to have good stuff in them. Last month I was finally stimulated enough by one to try it out. My first shipment should be here next week. Report forthcoming.
  • TwoDots is my favorite silly little phone game in a long time.
 Posted by at 3:05 pm
Jan 112017

Mom used to tell of how Gran’ma laughed and laughed the first time I made cupcakes with her. I was two. This might have been the time. Gran’ma really loved that I thought I had to lick the cake decorations to make them stick on the cupcakes.

This is the kitchen in the house where I grew up. I don’t have many photos of its interior. I’m so thankful for the ones I do have. Most of the time that I lived here, my parents were married. Between that fact and what I believe is the human tendency for past unpleasantries to fall much more readily from memory than their opposites, I’ve made my childhood home quite an idyll. My mom hung that towel on that drawer. My mom picked that wallpaper.

I was barely ten years old, and Jenny was seven, when Mom and Dad told us they were divorcing (at that very table). It surprised me as much as anything possibly could have. At such an age I certainly had no great insight into human relations, and can I really say anything reliable about the fidelity of my recollections?

But it didn’t seem to me we lived in a household of particular strain. And, though I certainly noted idiosyncrasies in my mother and father as I grew and matured, neither seemed incapable of relationship maintenance and mechanics. Our home fractured and split in early 1982 anyway.

I remember one night gazing at mine and Lea’s children when they were just about the same ages and considering that’s where Jenny and I were when it happened. Even now I tend to measure the timelines occasionally: my 15 years old vs. Nathan’s 15 years old; my two years into having a stepmother vs. Nathan’s…not.

I think we—the four of us—are doing all right. I think Lea and I are providing responsibly for the human beings we chose to make exist—physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. But, as I’ve said before, relativity can be quite seductive.

“Better than my parents” isn’t necessarily good enough.

 Posted by at 1:57 am
Jan 072017

Dad’s coming over tomorrow after church to help me assess the boys’ bathroom damage. I suspect part of that will be taking a reciprocating saw to the old tub so we can a) see all of the damaged floor; and b) get it out easily. Once it’s all torn up I’ll feel like I’m underway (and better). We can make a punch list that I can follow, and then I can work on it an hour or two at a time. I don’t think it’s a hard job; just a disruptive one.

We postponed all of the Upward games today because of the threat of hazardous travel conditions, and it’s not done anything all day but be cold. I hate that, but it is what it is. The boys and I are waiting for the AFC wild card game to start and pulling for the Raiders and Amari Cooper. “Something with bacon” came the request for dinner. We can probably swing that.

I hope you’re having a good weekend.

 Posted by at 2:45 pm
Jan 032017

I was born in Decatur, but my family moved to Anniston before I was a year old. So it’s the first home I can remember. I took some time last month to drive around and look. Here are a few through-the-windshield shots of some innocuous-looking locations that are full of memories for me. (Click image for larger.)

This is the first shopping center I can remember. The grocery store used to be Windsor’s, where a personable young man named Roger put up the produce. (Jenny wanted to be Roger for Halloween one year.) It was Golden Springs Pharmacy on the south end. I can’t pull the pharmacist’s name in, but he was a very nice man with a big wave of hair right over his forehead. (Think Donald Trump but with a normal person’s sense of restraint.)

Driving north on Sand Rock Road. There were numerous bike trails straight ahead and to the right when I was young. This is also just about exactly where Brian and I nearly caught the woods on fire one night. We finally got it stomped out, and I had to throw the jeans I was wearing away because they had char marks on them. I was scared for months that my mom would ask me what happened to them.

This is driving up Pecanwood Drive on the way to my house (the white one on the left). This seemed like the longest, steepest hill in the world when I was a kid—like, maybe one time in five I’d walk my bicycle up it instead of ride. In reality, it’s barely 300 yards top to bottom, and the slope is gentle until just past my house. I didn’t park and walk around the neighborhood on this trip, but it feels so small. It’s like traipsing around in a model train layout.

This curve on Coleman Road is the site of the only serious traffic accident I was ever in. I was one of four kids ejected from the bed of a Ford Courier pickup when it spun and overturned in the ditch (where that distant guard rail is now). From skid marks and the pickup’s final position, police estimated the pickup speed at 60 mph when the driver lost control. It could have been so much worse. Of the six kids in the pickup (two in the cab, four in the bed), only one was even admitted to the hospital. (She had to be extricated because the wreckage had trapped her right leg.) Four of us were treated and released in the ER, and my stepbrother, who was the lightest and had been thrown the farthest (into underbrush instead of pavement), didn’t even go to the hospital. To this day I can remember the sights and sounds of flying through the air after leaving the vehicle but before I hit the road. If I could unload a single memory, it might be that one.

This was a barren field of clay for the first 12 years of my life. It sprouted a Winn Dixie when the one on 78 that was destroyed in the 1983 tornado didn’t return. There was a Harco Drugs on the east end of this shopping center, and I spent a fair bit of time in there. Among the employees was a 35ish brunette who wore too much makeup and smelled really good. She cranked my tractor (not that it takes much for a 13-year-old boy). I can remember buying Heart’s Private Audition on vinyl in there, as well as some cassette storage boxes that I’m still using.

It’s surreal that these locations are only 100 miles or so from me. Supercharged with my excellent memory for detail, they’re really powerful experiences. They seem so much more distant and exotic than something to which a two-hour car ride permits exposure.

 Posted by at 11:13 pm is using WP-Gravatar