Needed: ‘Shalom’ in Fayette County


My family moved to Fayetteville from Northfield, Minnesota in 1997.

Now, Northfield has always boasted a diverse population, and has had few problems with hostilities among the different people groups abiding there.

That is to say, the Swedes and Norwegians have always gotten along famously.

During our tenure there, it was a pretty safe bet that the occasional African-American spotted on Northfield’s streets was affiliated with one of the two colleges in the small town.

So we spent several years there, growing accustomed to living in an area where just about everyone reflects light in roughly the same way, and mingling with the descendants of Scandinavian immigrants.

The result was that when we moved to the Atlanta area with its large African-American population, we experienced a bit of culture shock. We wondered how race relations in the area would be. Were they strained? Or, if there was mutual politeness, was it genuine? Indeed, when we moved into our mixed neighborhood, we wondered how our black neighbors would receive us.

But the tone for my interactions with my African-American neighbors was set just a few days after our move here. My wife and I were walking into the Publix at the new Fayette Pavilion. We were holding hands as we always do. An older black gentleman — who my memory now represents as the virtual twin of the late actor and Georgia native Ossie Davis — was leaving the store. He spotted us, and, with a grin and a twinkle, said, “Now cut that out!” — as if we were a pair of frisky teenagers.

Perhaps he was taking his groceries home to the lady whose hand he frequently held, and he recognized in us what he enjoyed in his own marriage. It was precisely the sort of good-natured teasing that is possible only where any lingering bitterness or racial overtones are non-existent, and where there is an expectation that they are equally absent in the other person.

The three of us chuckled as we passed.

I’m sure that man has no recollection whatsoever of the moment, insignificant as it was in itself. And, of course, it is not as though there was anything heroic in this friendly exchange. The gesture cost him nothing.

But here was a natural friendliness — even merriment — that was real and unaffected, and seemingly did not give two bits for color contrasts. Given his age, he might have had horror stories to tell about being black and living in the Atlanta area in, say, the 1940s or ‘50s. But if he had ever harbored resentment, he seemed to have cut it loose and sent it adrift.

It was almost certainly not a conscious and artificial attempt at developing good race relations — a part of some larger social agenda advising overtures to “white folk.” I doubt that he had just come from a diversity training session. I do not doubt that he had been to Sunday School earlier in the week. In short, this perhaps five-second exchange was a brief glimpse of the way things can and should be.

In my 11 years here, I have followed this gentleman’s lead, and expressed the same sort of genuine friendliness and courtesy to my neighbors, with no regard for race. Lo and behold, I have discovered that, almost to the person, they have returned kindness for kindness!

And, though I am not certain of this, I believe there have even been times when such friendliness has disarmed some who might otherwise have kept hostilities alive. Racism is just no match for a realization of our shared humanity.

The Old Testament presents the concept of “Shalom” or “peace.” Shalom is not merely the absence of hostilities. It is, as one theologian has put it, a state of “universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight.”

It is a harmonious state of affairs in which people share relationships of mutual love and respect, and in which they delight in fellowship with their Creator. Shalom is how things would be in an unfallen world — a world as God intended it to be.

The people of God have a mandate to work actively towards the goal of the restoration of Shalom; of binding wounds, mending broken relationships, working for justice and promoting peace, and taking a world that has been turned on its head and setting it back on its feet.

In Shalom, lions lie down with lambs, deserts become florid gardens, people frequently hold hands, and other people ignore such irrelevancies such as skin color to offer up good-natured jesting.

At this time when racial tensions seem to be growing, and charges and countercharges have been made — particularly on this newspaper’s blog site — wouldn’t it be great if just a little bit of Shalom would break out in Fayette County?

[Until recently, Mark Linville taught philosophy at Atlanta Christian College in East Point.]

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muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Sat, 07/26/2008 - 2:39pm.

You know who you are.




Oh By Jingo

Submitted by zigs on Thu, 07/24/2008 - 11:32pm.

Mark... To give this article even more credence why not practice the virtues you have so eloquently purported on your fellow bloggers, especially the ones you hold a grudge against.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 8:30am.

You're right, of course.

But, actually, as I said to one of those bloggers, I would just like to move on......

[Deleted material: I am reticent about leaving up the information that I earlier shared in this space. I am not entirely sure why that is. But I noted that one very relevant person logged on soon after I had written it, and so I assume that that person saw what was there. (There were also some 500 guests online at the time, so I also assume that the post did not go unnoticed by others.) I would not perjure myself were I to make those very statements under oath.]

So, "Zigs," do I hold a "grudge"? I continue to be angry. And that anger is mingled with a number of other emotions, including high anxiety and something bordering on terror, as I worry about finding a new position with insurance that will cover us--my wife, in particular. Finding such a position almost certainly entails that we will be uprooted and have to move away from our children and grandchildren.

As I understand things, a "grudge" exists when the offending party is sorry and the offended party refuses to forgive. I've never heard that anyone is sorry for anything. I've only heard denials, about which I am incredulous.

Now, assuming that I am no longer hounded by said blogger(s), I would dearly love to move on.


Oh By Jingo

Submitted by zigs on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 12:06pm.

My comment was an observation and not necessarily incrimination, although it could be applied by the whole of this site. I appreciate the essence of your article. I truly empathize with you during this phase of your life.

I have been in your current season of life with impending decisions and income anxiety and have uprooted and started over in a new location, more than once, with immediate family members in tow and in difficult medical conditions, leaving friends and family behind. It was not because of infractions at work, but because the company was sold, changed management or a new staff was brought in to replace the current one. You are not alone in this ordeal and the Comforter who seems to be so easily satirized can sustain you.

Maybe it would help to take what is being said by the blogger(s) and use the Shalom filter before further comment. Forgive is a hard word for most of us to say and we expect the other person(s) to say it before we do. Moving on is good.


Submitted by MYTMITE on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 1:02pm.

Is that Mr. Linville lost his job not because of any 'infractions at work' but because a vindictive, nasty person stuck their nose where it had no business. I am fairly new at this site, and in fact at blogging at all, but from everything I have read from Mr. Linville's posts and those of others on this site that know him far better than I, he appears to be a kind, friendly, intelligent, sometimes humorous person. He and his family did not deserve this type of treatment. I know he wishes to let it go but there are people who constantly seem to be digging this back up. For what reason? Seems like too many people or too may personas are getting too much pleasure out of this situation and that is pitiful. If they indeed hold the Christian beliefs they espouse then they should know better-I think several of the deadly sins were involved here, mainly envy. Shalom

Submitted by zigs on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 3:44pm.

My implication was not that of Mr. Linville's situation, but that of mine I was attempting to relate to him.

However, let me relate this to you. I don't think anyone on this blog would wish or intend or think he, or anyone, would deserve what happened or that anyone would take delight or pleasure in hearing that it happened, Christian or not.

I would contend that the reason it seems to surface from time to time is because of the jabs that posters want to take at other poster because of implications not substantiated, but assumed.

This is not a competition of "I am better that you, or he is better than me." No one wins in that. It is a simple urging for everyone to put into practice the virtues espoused by Mr. Linville in his article while blogging.

One other question, any reason you use all capitol letters in the message headline for your posts? You do know it means you are shouting. Just a question not a accusation.

Submitted by MYTMITE on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 6:15pm.

To answer your last question first--I use caps because I am old school and I was taught that you use caps in your headings--secondly I use them because I can. I hope no one has suffered damage to their ears. If so I apologize. Please just ignore it as I ignore the miuse and misspelling of words etc., in some blogs.

As to the other matter: Mr. Linville wrote a beautiful blog explaining 'Shalom', saying it would be great if just a little bit of 'Shalom' would break out in Fayette County. This is met with favor by many bloggers, thanking Mr. Linville and stating they would attempt to include 'Shalom' in their dealing with others. Then I read your blog where you state "To give this article even more credence why not practice what you preach? The virtues you have so eloquently perported on your fellow bloggers, especially the ones you hold a grudge against." Doesn't sound to me like you were taking 'Shalom' to heart. There are several bloggers on this site that ask certain questions with a sting and when they are called on it state that they are only asking because of how it relates to them. I don't think anyone can relate to the situatio that Mr. Linville found himself in when a nosy, vindictive "do gooder" was instrumental in making him lose his job, health insurance and peace of mind. Angry? I would be furious and believe me I would not be nearly as nice about it as he has been. I do not know Mr. Linville except for his blogs but he did not deserve this, no one does.

As to the Christian situation. I have always felt that anyone who went around proclaiming their 'Christianity' was to be avoided at all costs; a true Christian lives the life and makes it evident by deed that they are true Christians--they don't have to shout it from the rooftops as they sneak around doing harm to others. Shalom

simpleton's picture
Submitted by simpleton on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 10:47pm.

if God is pointing his finger at a few of these overly vocal Christians on here and shouting, "You're not affiliated with me!"

Submitted by MYTMITE on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 6:29pm.

Seems like I lost the s in misuse. Sorry, couldn't see to correct it. Must have been the red haze before my eyes as i thought of Mr. Linville's situation. Pls excuse this and any other errors that may be there.

Submitted by MYTMITE on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 6:34pm.

Missing 's', double entries, I give up. Going to take two aspirins and blog you in the morning!!! Sorry-mea culpa.

Submitted by MYTMITE on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 6:29pm.

Seems like I lost the s in misuse. Sorry, couldn't see to correct it. Must have been the red haze before my eyes as i thought of Mr. Linville's situation. Pls excuse this and any other errors that may be there.

hutch866's picture
Submitted by hutch866 on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 11:59am.

I apologize for getting this started again, it wasn't my place to say anything and I wish I had just kept my opinion to myself. Once again, sorry. Lord knows, if you can move on I should be able to.

I yam what I yam....Popeye

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 12:07pm.


It's cool.


Oh By Jingo

JeffC's picture
Submitted by JeffC on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 10:09am.

I once knew a Norwegian who loved his wife so much he almost told her.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 10:14am.

His trouble: He needed to try Powdermilk Biscuits in the big blue box--which give shy people the courage to get up and do what needs to be done.

...or maybe a slice of bebop-a-roobop-rhubarb pie.


Oh By Jingo

JeffC's picture
Submitted by JeffC on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 10:54am.

And a couple of glasses of akevitt.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 11:49am.

Both came to speak at St. Olaf when I was there.

I enjoyed both very much, but (Jeff, don't tell your dad this) Garrison probably got the best laughs.

I think he was probably taller, too.

Oh, I almost forgot, though: Dan Quayle also came to speak. He got lots and lots of laughs, but I'm not sure he was joking.


Oh By Jingo

Submitted by patches on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 1:12am.

Thank you so much. All I did was ask a question about enforcing rules at ACC. I have a friend that was looking at ACC and wanted to make sure they enforced the rules.

As far as the other person, she didn't do anything.

Be prepared to get knocked down by alot of people.

I don't hold a grudge against Mark or anyone else that post on this site. I just want to truth to be known.

With that someone asked what ACC was and Main Stream is the one who told them the name.

Thank you Zigs for your understanding.

Zigs is not Denise, myself nor anyone I even know.

Submitted by Bonkers on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 7:08am.

The Fifteen,(as Moses said when he dropped one stone and broke it) no, Ten Commandments are also rules for Christians!

I'm not sure the best way to enforce the rules is to call inappropriate attention to a brother's light moments with which you may disagree!

I', afraid you fail to grasp the meaning of either Satire or words used to bring attention to problems!

I have teased our professor about his many, many words sometimes, but if I couldn't do that, then he couldn't do what he does!

Just abide by your own rules and let others do the same unless great immediate harm is lurking!

carbonunit52's picture
Submitted by carbonunit52 on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 5:18am.


Submitted by patches on Fri, 07/25/2008 - 5:41am.

You were up late last night.

Peace brother!

I should not any more nasty comments from you. Since you said Shalom.

Have a good day.

gratefuldoc's picture
Submitted by gratefuldoc on Thu, 07/24/2008 - 11:31am.

Very nicely written Muddle. I believe you know some of my views from my past posts here. I would love to have you stop by my Synagogue here in Fayetteville some Friday evening for a Shabbat/Sabbath service. Everyone is always greete with a heartfelt "Shabbat Shalom" to end the week. i think you'd enjoy it as have some blogggers on here. And yes, ACC has truly lost a fine professor and by all accounts, a good man. What a shame.

And if not some Friday, perhaps at Dickey Betts in Sept.!

" Picture a bright blue ball just spinning, spinning free
Dizzy with eternity.
Paint it with a skin of sky, brush in some clouds and sea
Call it home for you and me.
A peaceful place or so it looks from space
A closer look reveals the human race.
Full of hope, full of grace, is the human face.
But afraid, we may our home to waste."

"once in a while you can get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right"
"listen to the thunder shouting, "I AM, I AM, I AM"

;>} Have a grateful day ;>}

Submitted by MYTMITE on Wed, 07/23/2008 - 9:52pm.

I would like to have had the pleasure of meeting you in person. I enjoy everything you write. Thank you for putting things into perspective for us. Some people who post here resort to name calling and it becomes much too easy to fall into that trap. Your blog set us all to thinking and realizing what the important things in life are about. I will try to take your words to heart and when people on here resorts to name calling my one word reply to them will be "Shalom". Thanks again, and I wish you and yours happiness in what ever endeavors you undertake. You are pretty special and it sounds as if you have an equally special mate.

NUK_1's picture
Submitted by NUK_1 on Wed, 07/23/2008 - 1:54pm.

That's excellent, Muddle. I didn't expect to come here and feel inspired today and it's quite a nice surprise. Thanks.

Submitted by patches on Wed, 07/23/2008 - 9:30pm.

In two simple words "Peace Brother"

Submitted by Davids mom on Wed, 07/23/2008 - 12:49pm.

A beautiful reflection. I can honestly say after almost five years in Fayette County - this has been my experience. Southern warmth and hospitality expressed by all to all. There is great pride felt when a 'black' person has survived the hostility/hatred/and self hate - and learned to love and be loved. Don't be afraid to watch the CNN special - BLACK AMERICA. It's not a 'let's hate whitey' show. Shalom.

Tug13's picture
Submitted by Tug13 on Wed, 07/23/2008 - 12:25pm.

What a beautiful story! I might stop by that Publix this afternoon. I'll be thinking about you and your wife, and remembering when my husband held my hand.

Atlanta Christian has lost a wonderful Professor.

Bless you

Tug Smiling

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Wed, 07/23/2008 - 10:19am.

I confess that, when I was writing this, I had to do a search to learn the name of actor Ossie Davis. (I knew he was in Joe vs. The Volcano, so I looked up the cast.....)

In the process, I was surprised to learn that he was the father of my favorite contemporary blues artist:

Guy Davis

Guy - Chocolate Man

Guy - Payday

My wife and I stumbled upon a free concert Guy was giving in downtown Chattanooga a few years ago. I've been a fan ever since. I wish I could play fingerstyle like Guy Davis.


Oh By Jingo

Submitted by Davids mom on Wed, 07/23/2008 - 12:06pm.

A true 'bluesman' of this age. His mom, Ruby Dee is indeed proud!

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Wed, 07/23/2008 - 1:54pm.

I read that, after over 50 years of marriage, they each planned on cremation upon their deaths. They wanted an urn large enough to fit the ashes of both comfortably, with these words inscribed on the outside:

"We're in this thing together."


Oh By Jingo

Submitted by Davids mom on Wed, 07/23/2008 - 6:27pm.

Revered role models. It was so wonderful to see her nominated for the Oscar! She and her husband have quite a body of work. She is still vibrant!

Submitted by skyspy on Wed, 07/23/2008 - 8:20am.

This kind of blends in with Wulfman's blog "What would you do if you only had 6 months to live?"

Some of us might only have one day left and not even know it.

How would you treat your neighbor if you knew this was your last day on earth?

Submitted by Bonkers on Wed, 07/23/2008 - 6:43am.

Aloha. Good morning to you. Hello to you. I wish you the best!

All same, same, I think.

It is ironic that such a lovely word, or phrase, is primarily associated with Israel. A country that has had nearly everything but Shalom!

wulfman's picture
Submitted by wulfman on Wed, 07/23/2008 - 5:35am.

Very nice post.

ACC lost a fine professor.

Cyclist's picture
Submitted by Cyclist on Tue, 07/22/2008 - 9:09pm.

As "hutch" said, very nicely done.
Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

carbonunit52's picture
Submitted by carbonunit52 on Tue, 07/22/2008 - 9:09pm.

Your words leave me at a loss for them, almost. Thank you very much for this heartfelt and artfully crafted work. God bless us all.

hutch866's picture
Submitted by hutch866 on Tue, 07/22/2008 - 9:05pm.

Very nicely done.

I yam what I yam....Popeye

Submitted by Sick of Fascists on Tue, 07/22/2008 - 8:59pm.

Such a beautifully written piece. It is so easy to lambast people with negative rhetoric. Let's all take time to work toward shalom with our neighbors, friends, and strangers in fayette county and worldwide. It takes two to fight. It takes two to get along. It only takes one to TRY.

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