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History Surrounds You

Tom Poland

Posted May 13, 2021

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer

History really does surround you. You just have to slow down a tad and open your eyes. It will help if you turn off the TV and go touring. I often write you can drive by a place 1,000 times and miss its significance. Last week, while aimlessly touring I revisited a place Robert Clark and I put in our second book, (italics) South Carolina, A Timeless Journey, the Saluda Theater.

The old art deco theater’s beautiful, if a bit worn. It opened July 4, 1936 with Shirley Temple’s (italics) Susanna of the Mounties. Lash Larue, a whip-wielding cowboy performed there. The theater provided a set for the film, (italics) And Justice For All, starring Sidney Poitier and Burt Lancaster.

The star today is next door—the Saluda County Museum overseen by Helayne Butler, a delightful lady and fountain of knowledge. History’s her thing. There’s no admission to see old maps, arrowheads, old documents and historic letters like the one William Barrett Travis wrote.

Saluda County folks like to say, “Saluda is where Texas began” with good reason. Two sons of Saluda, Lieutenant Colonel William Barrett Travis and James Butler Bonham, died as heroes at the Alamo. What follows has been praised as one of the more courageous and defiant letters a military man ever wrote. Here’s an excerpt, the closing paragraph.

Photo by courtesy of Robert C. Clark

“I am besieged by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna. I shall never surrender or retreat. I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country—Victory or Death.” William Barrett Travis. Lt. Col. comdt.

A detailed, hand-painted diorama of the Alamo sits in the museum. The museum can point you to the historic Bonham House (c.1780), the only existing birthplace of an Alamo hero. It can tell you how to find the monument marking Travis’ birthplace. If you can’t make it to the Alamo, the Saluda County Museum is a good alternative.

The museum has variety. For those who study genealogy, the Saluda County Museum has records for tracing family ancestries. You’ll see some fine old pottery. Look for the old Mason jars. Unscrew the lid and look for the milk glass seals. An old typewriter, military uniforms, and more wait on you.

Get a good look at the Saluda Theater’s façade and the neon light of the Chief of the Saluda Indians. Think about how important a place like this was prior to television. Theaters were vital to a community and cinema construction swept the country in the 1920s and 1930s. Most were art deco. Charles B. Thompson designed the Saluda Theater as a two-story, stuccoed masonry cinema. Small town theaters like it provided a focal point for entertainment in the 1930s and 1940s. The theater sits next to the courthouse square. You can’t miss it. Open for forty-five years, the theater closed in 1981 but opens for local events. Many days the theater sits dark but beautiful in its own way.  

Never forget. You can drive right by history and never have a clue it’s waiting for you to discover it. You won’t easily find old cinemas. Many burned long ago, as did the Linco Theater in my hometown but here’s a theater that still stands. Maybe you can arrange a tour. I thank the Saluda County Historical Society for its museum and theater and for preserving history.

Tom Poland’s website at

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Living on Purpose: Hot sauce spirituality

Dr. William Holland

Posted May 11, 2021

By Dr. William Holland

It’s easy to find people who can express their opinions about the Bible while at the same time having a tight grip on the amount of their will they surrender to God. Sound familiar? In a controlled environment and at a comfortable distance many live their lives keeping God in a box and only letting Him out when they want something or have a crisis. I can write from my own experiences as I’ve lived much of my life this way. It’s only after spending years researching about the war between our carnality and God’s Spirit, have I been graciously given a glimpse of the difference between Christianity and religiosity. We could say that being a disciple of Jesus Christ is accepting God to be our master, while religion attempts to be the master of God. Instead of trying to create a concept of the way we hope He is, it would be wise to embrace Him the way He really is.

Included within the blessings of being human, we’ve been given what is called free will. This means each of us has the opportunity to believe whatever we want. The one who created us does not force us to love or serve Him however, He does convict and draws people to Himself. Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to choose whom they will serve. Some will say they serve no one, but in reality, they are still serving themselves. For those who proclaim to be Christians, we are reminded that we have just as much God as we want which again is controlled by our will. We have the invitation and freedom to decide how serious we are and where to draw the line in our commitment to follow Christ. Let’s say everything we regard as important in this life is like a plate of food and religion squirts two drops of hot sauce which represents God into the mix and then we justify it all as being satisfactorily flavored. This might be alright on our enchilada but Jesus did not die on the cross to be a part of our life, He wants to be our entire life! We are not to add God to how we are already living but to be transformed as we build our lives around Him. Religion talks about taking up their cross, but being an overcomer for Jesus carries it. This is the hour where followers of Christ are being called to examine where God is on their priority list.

Building our relationship with God uses some of the same principles as building the mind and the body. We study to build the mind and to build the body we begin with light weights and after regular workouts; we increase the resistance to become stronger. Those who are legitimately interested in sacrifice and self-discipline have come to a point in their vision and determination where they cannot be stopped. Likewise, Christians have been commanded to advance in their spirituality as we are constantly being tested with difficult situations and opportunities to display God’s nature and character. God’s design is for us to comprehend and succeed in the less difficult situations before we move on to more complicated responsibilities. Our covenant vow within our salvation is more than just a membership or a worldview but rather a life that is hidden in the heart of God. The question is how devoted are we to develop this needed level of spiritual awareness?

Believing we can live however we want, and that God thinks this is perfectly fine is a popular subject. However, this intentional deception and denial where we are convinced that our behavior has nothing to do with eternity completely nullifies the purpose of having a God at all. We will never rise above our carnality and disobedience until we learn that our mind and free will must be united together in their dedication to God. Without this decision to be consumed with Him, we will never live under His control. Knowing what we should do without surrendering our will to God’s will is why many live in a cycle of defeat and disappointment. If we believe in a divine creator who wrote the Bible, we know His intention is for us to love and worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Luke 6:46 is a sobering reminder that if we do not follow and obey what He says He is not our Lord.

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Welcome to Swampton: Momma plays with horny toads

Michael DeWitt, Jr.

Posted May 6, 2021

By Michael DeWitt, Jr.

“Even bad men love their mommas.” – Russell Crowe as Ben Wade in 3:10 to Yuma

Welcome to Swampton County, S.C., where the sign outside the Cattywampus Church reads: “Don’t forget Mom on Mother’s Day – you’re the reason she pees when she jumps on a trampoline!”

Here, Mother’s Day is a special time for most folks. Hell McCatchum, Editor of The Swampton Slinger, always strives to show his appreciation for motherhood in the local paper.

One year, he held a Hot Mom Contest. That was pretty popular with most of the Dads, as well as some of the wannabe Dads out there. The following year, he held a Pretty Baby Contest and then an Ugliest Baby Contest – that way every Mom took home some type of prize.

One year he even talked the Swampton County Sheriff’s Office into furloughing all the Moms in the county jail for 48 hours, just so they could be with their families. That went over especially well and lots of local families were reunited for the weekend. Unfortunately, several Moms were apparently flight risks and one or two of the poor dears are still at large.

This year, McCatchum decided to do something different. He asked readers to write letters to the editor and share stories about all the mean, horrible things their mothers had ever done to them, and he promised to respond with some wise editorial advice. These are their stories.

 Dear Editor,

You asked for “horrible mom” stories, and here is mine. My mother used to make me eat broccoli and brussels sprouts at least twice a week! Twice, I tell you! Can you imagine how disgusting that was?

Green Around the Gills

Dear Green Around the Gills,

Is that the worst thing your Mom ever did? Please, don’t waste my time. Once, when my mother was washing dishes and I wouldn’t eat my mashed potatoes, she forced a handful of them down my throat and almost choked me! The worst part is, she didn’t even take off the rubber dish gloves or wash off the Palmolive dishwashing liquid. You want to know what tastes worse than green brussels sprouts? Green dishwashing liquid!”

Grow up, and buy your mom something nice for the kitchen for Mother’s Day!

Dear Editor,

My mean mother used to make me clean my room every day. That’s right, I said every day! Isn’t that like child labor or something? Wouldn’t that be illegal these days?

Lazy in the Lowcountry

Dear Lazy in the Lowcountry,

Do you know what’s worse than Mom making you clean your room? When Mom cleans your room for you when you aren’t around! I was off at school, and my mother went in my room and discovered my contraband – including that stash of “special” magazines that I had. That wicked woman destroyed each and every one of those magazines while giving a stern lecture about respecting women and being a gentleman!  But the only person who was more upset than my mother was my father. Who do you think I stole the magazines from?

Stop wasting my time and go clean your room!

Dear Editor,

Growing up, I was afraid of the dark. So what did my mother do? She made me go stand outside every night for ten minutes, in the pitch black darkness. Sure, I peed my pants the first couple of nights, but eventually I overcame my fears. But don’t you think the horrible woman could have found a nicer, more therapeutic way of handling my childhood phobias?

Safe and Sane in Swampton

 Dear Safe and Sane,

I can relate to this. Growing up, I was a big sissy. I was afraid of insects and spiders, I wouldn’t touch fish, frogs, or lizards, and I was deathly afraid of any type of snake. But my mother vowed that she would have a normal “country boy,” so that monster would go outside and catch all kinds of creepy, crawly things, despite the fact that she was squeamish around frogs and other slimy things herself, and make me hold them and play with them.

Look at the bright side: as adults you can walk outside at night without wetting your pants, and I can bait my own hook and remove my own fish without cringing and getting the willies. I even caught a horny toad the other day, just to put it in my hat and chase my wife. I chased her around the house twice with that frog before he escaped, then chased her for another two laps with just my empty hat. I owe that priceless moment to dear old Mom.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to call the old girl and tell her I love her, and thank her – not just for her many kindnesses, but for her many mean, tough-love moments as well.

Dear reader, I suggest you do the same.

Michael M. DeWitt, Jr. is the managing editor of The Hampton County Guardian, an award-winning journalist, columnist and outdoor writer who has been published in South Carolina Wildlife, Sporting Classics, and the author of two books.

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Every State Needs A John Mulhouse

Tom Poland

Posted May 4, 2021

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer

Every state needs someone to record what it’s lost. Every state needs a John Mulhouse. I’ve never met John but we’re in touch and we share much—the beauty of abandonment, UGA grads with Augusta, Georgia, connections, and Carolina bays.

John’s Abandoned New Mexico: Ghost Towns, Endangered Architecture, and Hidden History makes for good reading. What we think will last forever surrenders to abandonment. It’s just a matter of time.

I discovered John through his “City of Dust” blog dedicated to photo-documentation of the derelict historic buildings and abandoned places along the Georgia-South Carolina border. Following a move to New Mexico in 2009, City of Dust began to explore the history of entire towns, rural places often forgotten by all but those who still live there and love them. Largely using film and a New Mexico Atlas & Gazetteer, John has collected thousands of images of the state’s past as seen from the present. He remains a hunter of ghost towns, empty houses, endless ribbons of asphalt, and more.

Like I said, every state needs a John Mulhouse. Let’s hitch a ride with John and head out west for some beautiful abandonment.

On Highway 60 we see the ruins of Spurs Saloon. In Lake Valley we see an abandoned safe missing its door in the desert where the Bridal Chamber Mine produced 2.5 million ounces of silver. Here a miner discovered a cave of solid silver chloride 26 feet wide and 12 feet high. The miner failed to realize what he had discovered and sold the claim for a few thousand dollars. “The ore was so rich it didn’t need to be smelted. A flame could melt silver right off the ceiling.”

Get your kicks on Route 66 in Cuervo, a Mother Road ghost town I-40 killed off. John writes: “Pulling into desolate (mostly) deserted Cuervo is like driving into the apocalypse, if the apocalypse happened in 1920. Just forget about the semis whizzing by, and there are only old cars and older houses, piles of clothes, and newspapers from decades ago, everything in that hauntingly arrested state that all aficionados of the lost desire.”

You’ll enjoy John’s photographs. Whether color or black and white they possess a haunting quality. The First Presbyterian Church of Taiban stands iconic on the plains beneath a swirling desert sky of pink, blue, yellow, and gray clouds. Makes me think of that line from the Eagles’ “Peaceful Easy Feeling.”

A soft-cover book, it runs 160 pages long with 150 photographs. If you crave to see the Old West up close and personal, you’ll like John’s book. Ambushes, shootings, silver mines, saloons, and more will slake your thirst. Be sure to read about the St. James Hotel in Cimarron, which is still open. It’s considered one of the more haunted hotels in the country and it should be. Twenty-six people were killed in its saloon alone. “Everyone from Buffalo Bill to Clay Allison to Zane Grey spent the night there.” Maybe. John points out that a lot of claims you hear out West aren’t entirely true.

In John’s book three sentences resonate with me and they apply to abandonment in any state. “Every place I had photographed seemed to hold a surprise. I found the pairings of these abandonments with their forgotten tales transformative. The process made me feel hopeful.”

“Hopeful” is the word. We’re still here, for now, but abandonment, sooner or later, will catch up with us. For now you can step into John’s shoes. Get signed copies of his book directly or check your favorite bookseller. Find John’s provocative blog, City of Dust, of which John writes, “The lost and wondrous wreckage of America. The ceaseless road to nowhere, yeah, that’s my home.”

It’s mine too.

Tom Poland’s website at

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Op-ed submission from the South Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (SCAAP)


Robert A. Saul, MD

Posted May 4, 2021

For more info, contact:
Robert A. Saul, MD
108 Wimbledon Court
Greenwood, SC 29646

As the elected officers of the South Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (SCAAP), we are writing to express our concerns for children as the pandemic continues.  Representing over 750 pediatricians statewide, we stand united with our AAP colleagues (over 67,000) nationally to speak out on behalf of the health, safety and well-being of the children and families under our care and advocacy umbrella.  We take our oath of service seriously and will always “educate, advocate and agitate” for children.

Our current concerns are threefold—

  1. There seems to be a complacency developing that children are safe from the ill effects of the COVID-19 virus. Let’s be clear—they tend to suffer less ill effects than adults but recent data shows that children are making up a growing share of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S., accounting for nearly 21%.  Since the start of the pandemic, more than 3.63 million children have tested positive, making up about 13.6% of all cases. Children can still suffer severe consequences and even death, and we all worry about the long-term unforeseen consequences for childhood infections and long-term health.  They deserve our protection now. Since children are not currently eligible for the vaccine, they will continue to spread the virus (and its more infectious variants) unless the adult population establishes herd immunity with overwhelming immunization.  To get all children safely back in school, back in athletics, back in summer camps, and back in all of their vital social activities that they need, it is now up to the adults to get vaccinated and stop the spread.  We should do no less.  The vaccine is safe.
  2. Vaccine hesitancy is a serious concern to us and our colleagues. The vaccine was developed with apparent lightning speed but in point of fact its development was based on decades of science.  So, its rapid speed to market and into arms in no way reflects a disregard for safety.  Its safety is really undeniable and appropriate precautions are being taken even given some recent concerns.  As noted above, if we want to take care of the medical and social needs of our children, vaccine hesitancy needs to be replaced with vaccine urgency.
  3. A movement is afoot to discourage the wearing of masks while we are still in the midst of the pandemic, have not yet achieved sufficient immunization levels, and in spite of clear evidence that masks decrease the spread of the virus. We fear that this movement puts the health and well-being of children at increased jeopardy.  We still need to stop the respiratory spread until vaccine hesitancy is replaced by vaccine urgency and we have enough of the population protected.  As health care professionals who wear masks all day at work and then again when we are out in public, we can attest to ease of mask-wearing and sense of pride that comes with protecting others.  We think the health and safety of our children far outweighs the alleged affront to the civil liberties of others.  Mask-wearing will be unnecessary in the not-too-distant future if we all just wear the masks until the public health officials give us the go-ahead.

Our children are our most precious resource and our most vulnerable citizens going forward.  We must do everything we can to protect their health now to give them the best chance at a healthy tomorrow.  It is the responsibility of all of us.

Robert Saul, MD – President, SCAAP

Elizabeth Mack, MD – Vice President, SCAAP

Martha Edwards, MD – Secretary-Treasurer, SCAAP

Kerry Sease, MD – Immediate Past President, SCAAP

Robert A. Saul, MD

Born and raised in the Chicago area, Bob Saul graduated from Colorado College (Colorado Springs, CO) and from the University of Colorado School of Medicine.  He completed a residency in pediatrics at the Duke University Medical Center and a fellowship in genetics at the Greenwood Genetic Center.  He is Professor of Pediatrics (Emeritius) at the Prisma Health Children’s Hospital-Upstate and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine – Greenville.  He currently serves as the President of the South Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

He has authored My Children’s Children: Raising Young Citizens In The Age Of Columbine, authored an illustrated companion children’s book All About Children, co-authored Thinking Developmentally: Nurturing Wellness In Childhood To Promote Lifelong Health (the latter published by the AAP July 2018), and Conscious Parenting: Using The Parental Awareness Threshold. His website –

Compelled To Pick Up Rocks

Tom Poland

Posted May 3, 2021

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer

Do you pick up rocks? I do. I feel compelled to pick up rocks. And so do others. Many people take rocks home and create a sort of geologic museum. In my office you’ll see a large amethyst crystal, stones from the Chattooga River, the arrowheads of youth, and somewhere a piece of petrified wood hides. In others’ homes I’ve noticed rocks on shelves, desks, and in window ledges. Door stops too.

Maybe rocks serve as amulets that protect against danger and ward off evil, and there’s plenty of that around for sure. Some of us just like rocks but serious collectors are out there. Rockhounds. They barter and sell rocks, grind and polish them into jewelry, and like the aforementioned sit them all over the house.

Rockhounds trek all over the country to collection sites, and a favored site is close to my boyhood home, Graves Mountain in Lincoln County, Georgia. I was there during the April Rock Swap and Dig. People came from Atlanta, South Carolina, Florida, and other points. They lugged carts heavy with rocks. They chipped away at boulders and deposits. They compared finds and reminded me of prospectors out West. I didn’t see any donkeys but they would have fit right in.

I looked around and saw flakes where folks had chipped away at rocks looking for treasure. They don’t just randomly hammer away. Rockhounds possess knowledge of minerals. They know what they’re looking for and they know they’re at a legendary place for doing so.

Graves Mountain’s original rocks were deposited about 300 million years ago. Then during the continental collisions, the Lincoln County region was forced into Earth’s mantle and subjected to heat and pressure. New minerals formed and existing minerals changed. Heat and pressure formed different minerals and they metamorphosed into the erosion-resistant schists and quartzite we recognize today as Graves Mountain.

The dominant mineral emerging from geologic change at Graves Mountain is kyanite—a blue silicate mineral—and it caught industry’s attention. Commercial mining began in 1963, and at one point, Graves Mountain produced half the kyanite in the United States. Much of it went into the ceramic material used in spark plugs.

All the blasting for kyanite exposed rutile, a lustrous yellow gem, perhaps the mountain’s most coveted specimen. Folks collect rutile, kyanite, lazulite, iridescent hematite, pyrophyllite, pyrite, illmenite, muscovite, fuchsite, barite, sulfur, blue quartz and quartz crystals with a hematite coating. They collect rocks with other names difficult to pronounce too.

You better not feel compelled to pick up rocks in California. It’s illegal and considered tampering with geological features. I suppose folks who come to Graves Mountain don’t bother to head out California way, although California has rock hound clubs. Maybe club members just photograph rocks. I bet they’d like to come to Graves Mountain where they can actually pick up a rock. (My tires tamper with geological features. Every so often I pry gravel out of the treads. I suspect a lot of tread picking goes on in California.)

I tamper with geological features for a simple reason. It just feels good to hold something old and original from Mother Earth. In the comfort of my home I can pick up a rock and a flood of memories come to me. I suspect it’s the same for you too. Rocks give me a connection with the planet. They’ll be around long after I’m gone.

Tom Poland’s website at

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Living on Purpose: Being happy never grows old

Dr. William Holland

Posted May 3, 2021

By Dr. William Holland

I remember as a kid how the days seemed so long. I recall in the summertime after breakfast, I would shoot basketball until the sun became too hot, and then I would ride my bike to cool off. Our neighbors had five children and we would play kickball until it was too dark to see. Life was fun, and I was always excited to do it all over again the next day. I can still recall the simple joys of running through clover as fast as I could for no reason except to feel the wind on my face. I made sure to wear shoes because being stung by a honeybee was not pleasant. I loved to lie down on our picnic table in the backyard and watch the clouds pass by. It was interesting to see them transform into amazing images that looked so real and always wondered if anyone else was noticing this awesome display. On those lazy humid days when the temperature would soar, I would would turn on the garden hose and run through the water sprinkler and then play with my trucks and bulldozers under the cool shade of the trees. I can still hear the sound of a lone airplane and I would run out into the yard and try to locate it within an endless blue sky. I remember climbing our cherry trees and sitting high in the branches sharing the delicious fruit with the numerous birds that had the same idea. I would pick cherries and my mother would bake pies that were so delicious. I cannot recall being stressed or anxious about the future, I just believed everything would always stay this way and be alright.

Well, we all grow up and discover that our journey has seasons and is always moving forward. I’ve had a blessed life and I’m learning that of all the things we can do, living in the awareness of God’s glorious presence will provide the courage and faith we need to endure whatever may come. As we grow older, it seems that time passes more quickly and maybe this is because we are spending too much of it watching others instead of focusing on what we need to do. When we allow ourselves to become overly absorbed and entangled with problems we cannot change, this can overwhelm us with sadness and discouragement. However, learning to live a productive yet uncomplicated lifestyle can help us rediscover the simplicity and contentment we once enjoyed when we were young. When is the last time you went hiking and enjoyed the beauty of God’s creation? It would be fun to play in the snow and feel the rain on our faces and maybe in the evenings we could turn off the television and take a quiet walk as talking with the Lord always brings peace and calm into our soul. Maybe if we realize that age has more to do with attitude than years, we could experience life on a higher level and have more joy and contentment. It is said that we are as young as our faith and as old as our despair.

I was in a restaurant the other day and noticed an elderly couple sitting together in a booth. The woman’s hands were shaking and her food would not stay on the fork. After several attempts, she put the fork down and her husband being aware of the problem also put his fork down. He quietly reached over and took her fork, cut the pancake, and gently started toward her mouth with a bite. She opened her mouth and accepted without even changing facial expressions. He returned to his plate and then began the compassionate process of taking turns. My eyes welled up as this scene touched me deeply and reminded me of how life seems to return full circle. Choosing to live in a disposition of childlike trust and hope in God allows us to remain happy and in His favor. Matthew chapter 18 talks about obedience and humility as a result of being spiritually converted and restored into the way we observed and contemplated life through our conscience as a young child. The innocence of children is precious in God’s sight and He desires that we maintain this attitude and perspective of purity and a character of forgiveness, sincerity, and love no matter what age we are.

Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian minister, author, and community chaplain. To learn more visit: 

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Stuart Neiman Cartoon: Our Feelings

Posted April 28, 2021

By Stuart Neiman

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Living on Purpose: Staying focused on our mission

Dr. William Holland

Posted April 26, 2021

By Dr. William Holland

For many years I’ve had the privilege to visit nursing homes as I truly enjoy spending time with the elderly. I sing and teach Bible studies and appreciate hearing about their former lives. The Lord has allowed me to make some precious friendships and I want to share with you about a lovely lady who after a devastating stroke was no longer able to be independent and is now in a comfortable setting where she is well taken care of. I love talking with Barbara and a while back in the middle of one of her stories we discovered that long ago she was actually my mother’s next-door neighbor and they played together as children. What were the odds of that? Anyway, I love her positive and upbeat personality and how kind and thoughtful she is. She never married and lived a simple life of working and being a devoted member of her church which she sang in the choir for over fifty years.

Barbara is intelligent with a clever sense of humor, and it warms my heart to watch her laugh. Recently she experienced a life-changing event that has caused me to do some serious thinking about the mission of every Christian. Within our conversations about God, it had not crossed my mind to be concerned about her spiritual condition. I felt confident she was a Christian and was ready to live with Jesus forever. A couple of weeks ago, another minister visited this facility and brought a salvation message and in closing, he simply asked if anyone would like to accept Christ as their personal Savior and be born again. Barbara said a strange feeling of concern and guilt washed over her and later that evening she began to cry. After a week of sorrow and conviction, the minister returned and prayed with her, and through God’s mercy he led her to receive Jesus as her Lord.

When I came to see her, she was glowing with joy and excitement and said with all those years of going to church she could not remember anyone ever mentioning how Jesus came to redeem and save us. She told about being sprinkled when she was 12-years-old with more of a traditional formality instead of a spiritual encounter as a result of hearing the gospel and had never seriously felt the Holy Spirit revealing her need to accept Christ into her heart. So at 78-years-old, she responded to God’s invitation and with childlike faith, her spiritual eyes have now been opened. I’m so happy and grateful to the Lord that she received Christ before it was too late. At the same time, I was deeply convicted of my lack of discernment and for not recognizing her need to be born again, and today I wonder how many individuals are living the same emotional pretense?

We read in the New Testament about the Pharisees and notice they were highly respected for keeping the law, going to church, and having religious knowledge, and yet in John chapter eight, Jesus told them they did not know God at all. There are several accounts where Christ confronted the religious leaders and explained that good works mean nothing unless a person becomes born again through God’s gift of salvation. We all want to hear about going to heaven but many refuse to associate eternal life with being in covenant with God Himself. Yes, salvation is free because of God’s grace but it’s also our responsibility to realize that we can only enjoy a personal relationship with God when we are redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Those of us who have been declared righteous are commissioned to boldly tell others about why Jesus went to the cross and to share the entire process of how God invites everyone to be spiritually transformed into a new creation.

I am learning that encouraging and comforting others is truly a much-needed blessing but let us pray for spiritual sensitivity so that we might be an alert messenger who is not presumptuous or embarrassed to witness to someone even if they have been a church member all their life. It’s never too late to be forgiven, delivered, and transformed into a child of God as He is always drawing people to Him because He loves everyone and does not want to see anyone perish. I encourage you to read the third chapter of John, and to examine your heart to make sure that all is well with your soul.

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The Oldest Profession

Tom Poland

Posted April 23, 2021

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer

Hauling two wire cages of stacked stone, the flatbed turned right and crept uphill. Cormac McCarthy wrote that the oldest profession in the world is not prostitution. It’s stacking stones. Well, you can stack stones as they are and you can stack stones shaped by man and nature. You’ll see small river-carved rock stacks on the Chattooga, and you’ll see stacked stone supporting the overhang of old stores.

Stacking stones crafted by the hand of man make beautiful structures but they aren’t immune to gravity. The stones you see here are part of Badwell Cemetery in McCormick County. After quarrying, stonecutters gave them a rough shape and stonemasons sculpted them into a precise shape.

I admire stonewalls, stone walkways, stone arches, and stone bridges. I’m not that big a fan of cement “stones” from big box hardware stores used for walkways and borders, and walls. They’re just not genuine but along back roads stonemasons’ art endures as walls, church markers, and entranceways to antebellum homes long gone. Rock endures just about everything you can throw at it. Not dynamite but otherwise it lasts.

In Chester County at Landsford Canal you’ll see the early 1800’s handiwork of Irish stonemasons who crafted the canal’s guardlock that lowered boats into the canal during floods. The finely cut, precise granite stones still stand. In the river, an old diversion dam of rock continues its prolonged tumble. The right front wall of Badwell succumbed to gravity and toppled into the cemetery as revealed by a photograph. Today the fallen stones sit outside the cemetery, moved off the graves they fell onto.

Badwell Cemetery’s stone blocks came from a local quarry but I have yet to find it. I hope to. Could be it’s beneath nearby Clarks Hill/Strom Thurmond Lake. If I find that quarry, I’ll have yet another story about the French, many who came here to die in the mid to late 1800s.

As the Huguenots, led by the Reverend Jean Louis Gibert, built and oversaw the building of Badwell plantation, its springhouse, and cemetery, the sounds of mallets and chisels rang out. Hoists groaned and creaked as men struggled to put the stones in place. I don’t know how much those stones weigh but I know no one man can lift one. Metal straight edges flashed in sunlight as stonemasons perfected and aligned blocks. They might have fashioned a lewis and used it combination with a block and tackle. Let lewis pick ’em up. A lewis, that’s a device that grips heavy blocks of stone for lifting. Once the stones were in place, mortar held them in place.

No doubt ruined backs, crushed toes and fingers, and a lot of maiming took place in building Badwell Cemetery. How could it not? Crushed and crippled or not, men built a stately cemetery, one still standing. I stood within those walls among the dead. I heard the cries of pileated woodpeckers and the electric squeak of hummingbirds in the canopy. Man’s oldest profession doesn’t wall the souls resting here from the forest. No, they are part of it and long will be. We all should have such a peaceful place of rest.

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