Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Fall Out With Reverend Price

Have you noticed that every time I mention William T. Price on here, I fall silent for a long time afterwards? No? It's true. Because I've spent so much time with Reverend Price in the last year, I've tried really hard to like him, or empathize with him, or admire him. For example, he was ready with a sermon for any occasion, complete with some appropriate but relatively obscure Bible verses. Always prepared; always professional--that's surely admirable. He faced many hardships--long days in the saddle, riding from church to church to deliver those professional and polished sermons; the hardships of the Civil War; the vague but looming career disappointment in the years following the war--surely I could conjure some sympathy.

But no. I can't turn my attention away from his apparent snobbery, his Jesus-free Calvinistic sermons, and his disdain for careful editing. It always leaves me in a funk. It's passages like this one (from his Civil War diary) that keep me cranky:

Upon resuming my journey...I saw a solitary person approaching at a brisk, headlong trot. He was mounted on a very ordinary looking horse. The saddle and saddlebags were old and much worn, his shoes were of some home tanned leather, coarse and heavy, very need of the attention of a cobbler, while his clothing was of plain homespun jeans. His loosely fitting coat was threadbare and out at the elbows, and his crumpled slouch hat nearly concealed his shaggy eyebrows beneath which blazed a pair of piercing and inquisitive eyes, such as are seldom seen in a life time and never to be forgotten. He rather abruptly stopped me in the road by a stentorian inquiry whether I was from Beverly.

"How is the vote?"

"I think Secession has the majority"

"Do you say the Secession candidate is ahead? I have the honor to be that candidate."

And this was really so: the successful candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates was before me, elected by the counties of Randolph and Tucker. What a comment upon the democratic tendencies of our political institutions when candidates to be popular should dress like the Biblical Gibeonites and behave accordingly. One of the blessings of this civil war, we may hope, will be to inaugurate a happier era by sweeping the depraved and vicious from the political arena, or teach them to prize their political privileges by choosing the best, not the worst looking of men for their rulers.

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