Another Notch in the Bible Belt

  Happy Sunday evening, folks.

  Folks, I am overwhelmed with gratitude right now. I faced a task I had been dreading for several months, a promise I made to a friend. I’d put it off as long as I could. I’d run out of excuses. This morning I bit the bullet and followed through on what I said I would do. Whew. What a relief.

   I keep getting myself into situations like this because I have a hard time saying “no”. (My son might argue that point. I say “no” to him all the time, but that’s because he gives me so very many opportunities.) It’s people pleasing, which is a character defect of mine. I know that. I just don’t want anyone to feel disappointed in me or think less of me, so I often agree to do things that I’d really rather not. My friends know this about me and occasionally take advantage of it, sometimes with the justification that it’s for my own good. Such was the case when a friend of mine recently talked me into attending his church service.

    “A promise made is a debt unpaid,” comes to mind. It is a line from The Cremation of Sam McGee, one of my favorite ballads by the poet, Robert Service. In the poem, the narrator’s dying friend extracts from him the promise to cremate his body. It is no mean task, given the environment they find themselves in, and the narrator has to carry the remains around for days before he can find the appropriate venue. Each day, “that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow,” and that is exactly the burden I began to feel as I searched for a convenient time to give up one of my precious Sunday mornings.

   For those of you who read my blog from different places around the globe, Charlotte, North Carolina, is located in what has been known for some time as The Bible Belt. Southern Baptists, tent revivals, and evangelist preachers are a part of our culture. No one who lives around here is immune to their influence. Not even heathens like myself.

   And we shouldn’t try to avoid it really. Religious or not, it’s a part of who we are around here. In order to survive, you better have a good answer for the opening conversational gambit, “What church do you go to?” I, myself, explain that I was raised as a Presbyterian but that I currently am not attending anywhere regularly. Then I do my best to change the subject. Sometimes it works. Other times I end up going to yet another local Sunday morning service. I’ve been to some doozies, too, let me tell you.

    In the last five years or so I started to notice these bumper stickers around town that read, Elevation Church. At first I thought it was a local climbing club. Rock climbing, even if it’s on a local man-made wall, has grown in popularity around here in the last decade. I thought it was a cool name, kind of insinuating the spiritual nature of activities in the great outdoors.
   No such luck. Here’s the excerpt from Wikipedia…

Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, is a Southern Baptist megachurch pastored by Steven Furtick. From 2007 through 2010, Elevation was consistently cited by Outreach Magazine as one of the Top 100 fastest growing churches in the United States.[3] It has been described as "a pop culture-friendly church with an orthodox Christian message".[

     Yeah, that kind of places it in a category, perhaps with a somewhat judgmental slant, but it pretty much sums it up. Currently, in the last days of 2012, there are seven different locations for Elevation in Charlotte. Pastor Furtick delivers two sermons each Sunday at 9:30 and 11:15 am from one location, which is broadcast simultaneously to the other six venues.
   Each location features its own band, which plays along with the original broadcast. The musicians are tight. The singers are skilled and sincere. It is a slick, impressive, multi-media event. The atmosphere is welcoming and non-judgmental. The message is inspirational – maybe even uplifting. I’m glad I went.

   I’m equally glad I don’t have to go back.

   I’m not really a Christian. I drifted away from the Church in my early teens. The dogma didn’t work for me as an explanation of the way the world works. Okay, then, maybe it’s all supposed to be an allegory. I can see that, in a very convoluted way. But I still can’t wrap my heart around God sacrificing his only son for my sins. I’m not arguing against it. I’m probably missing the point somewhere along the way. But it doesn’t seem fair. Jesus did some cool stuff. He said some great things. He deserved better, especially from his Dad.

   My fondest memories of church growing up are of dozing in soft, stained-glass lighting to the sound of a soothing baritone voice speaking in iambic pentameter. Of course, I can’t do that now. When I fall asleep in a public place these days I wake up to the horrified stares of those around me and the knowledge that if my own snoring woke me up, it must have been even worse for those unfortunate souls who remained awake. But there could be no sleeping at Elevation Church, anyway. Too loud.
   No, it’s best if I stay at home on Sunday mornings, take a walk in the woods, read a book while my laundry spins in the dryer, or play a game of chess with my son. It’s those times when I feel the presence of God most strongly anyway.

Holiday Giveaway
   ‘Tis the season, right? I can’t believe y’all are willing to buy these things but I can’t give ‘em away. I really want to give away some books! My goal is to give away a book every week through January 6th. It looks like I’m going to have to sweeten the pot a little. So, this week I’m giving the winner the option of getting a hard copy of one of my books signed by the author! You can leave a comment on my blog or email me at I’ll choose a winner at random from all the responses and send you the book of your choice in whatever format you desire.
   Not sure how to leave a comment? Here's how! Scroll down to the end of the blog, past all the links to my awesome books, to where I leave you with "Happy Reading!" The next line says, "Posted by John Hundley" and following is a comment count (No comments, 1 comment, 2 comments, etc - you get the picture). Click on the comment count and a comment box will open for you to leave your own comment.

Expanded Distribution for the Red Wolf Novels
I am pleased to announce that both The Draculata Nest and The Dragon of Doughton Park are now available for kobo readers! Kobo is a very popular program for reading on many ebook readers, smart phones and computers. The software is free and can be downloaded from many public library sites as well as Kobo eBooks own Web site at free Kobo apps.
So from now on you’ll find links to buy my books for Kobo at the bottom of these blog posts along with those for kindle, nook and paperbacks. Enjoyable, inexpensive, and a great gift idea!

You can purchase my books through the following venues…

The Draculata Nest -----------------------------------------------------------------------
Click on the link to order:
ebook for Kindle    ebook for Nook    ebook for Kobo    in Paperback    in Charlotte

The Dragon of Doughton Park ----------------------------------------------------------
Click on the link to order:
ebook for Kindle    ebook for Nook    ebook for Kobo    in Paperback
Until next time… Happy Reading!


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