"For Grandma Bertha and Grandpa Bunt, who taught me about hard sayings."
So begins Will Campbells 17th book, Soul Among Lions: Musings of a Bootleg Preacher, a collection of essays, some hard-hitting, others sentimental, but all of them bearing the distinctive stamp of one of the most provocative writers of our time.
Campbell is a Mississippian by birth, a white Southern Baptist who became an activist in the civil rights movement and ever since has taken his own particular delight in scandalizing those more rigid in their faith. At age 75, he is still caught up in the mystery of it all. He has little use for ideology or creed"the baggage," he says, of those apostles of certainty who proclaim to their own congregations and the world: "God told me, and Im telling you, and if you dont believe as I do youre doomed." There is a special corner of his contempt, it seems, for the political preachings of the far Religious Right"those electronic soul-molesters who hurl to hearth and household their political agenda, all disguised in a tidy and palatable gospel of Take up your cross and relax. Take up your cross and get rich. Take up your cross and send a hurricane scurrying up the coast to blow somebody elses house to smithereens."