The Flora and Fauna of Your Heart

This weekend’s edition brings writing about a wondrous Southerner and natural Southern wonders.

One of our contributors to this weekend’s issue of Salvation South begins by writing about how people can stake claims on “sacred spaces in our hearts.” Then, he makes an insightful observation: “But nature, in its manifold forms, can fill your soul in the same way.”

Gary Grossman had no idea he was doing this, but his opening paragraph sums up this weekend’s issue for us.

On the people side of the equation, we have “The Bootleg Preacher,” an essay about the late Will D. Campbell, who should, based on his deeds in this life, be a household name in the South. There are many who hold his memory dear, but every soul who cares about this region should revere the Rev. Campbell. A Baptist preacher born in Amite County, Mississippi in 1924, Campbell only pastored one church in his career—because what he believed and how he talked about it made him too hot to handle among the Southern Baptists of the twentieth century.

He did not oppose the Civil Rights Movement. He fought for it, doggedly and consistently. He became one of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s closest confidantes. When nine African American students attempted to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, Campbell was there to escort them and to shelter them after they were turned away. And later, when the fight for LGBTQ civil rights was joined, Campbell joined it.

Campbell believed in something that our contributor Justin Cox calls “God’s scandalous love,” love without judgment. “If you love one,” Campbell often said, “you gotta love them all.” If you don’t know about Campbell, read Cox’s touching essay about the man who inspired him to enter the ministry. You should also read it if you just want a beautiful reminder of a Southern preacher who never met a stereotype he didn’t break.

The aforementioned Gary Grossman handles the nature side of the soul-filling equation this week. Grossman is a professor emeritus of ecology at the University of Georgia. He has fished the rivers of the Blue Ridge Mountains his entire life—and studied the science of their flows and inhabitants for decades. His “Will the Rivers Still Run?” brings to life the rare beauty of those rivers—and grieves what is being lost in them because of climate change. For those who love nature (and great nature writing), Grossman’s work here is critical.

This Week-01

—“The Bootleg Preacher”: a remembrance of civil rights crusader Will D. Campbell, by Justin Cox
—“Will the Rivers Still Run?”: a deep wade through the rivers of the Blue Ridge, by Gary Grossman
—“Stillpoint”: a poem from the Carolina shore, by Jo Ann S. Hoffman

Adding to the nature side of the equation is a poem set on the Carolina seashore about a pair of passing dolphins—or maybe whales? The wonders of nature abound in these verses by Jo Ann S. Hoffman, a longtime poet but first-time contributor to Salvation South. We welcome her to our party.

If you’re reading this, you’re clearly a reader at heart. For your book orders, we’d encourage you to visit our Salvation South Bookshop on Once there, you can find books by our contributors, books referenced in our stories, and our opinionated list of fiction we believe every Southerner should read. And when you place an order, it benefits both Salvation South and the local independent bookstore of your choosing.

We wish you a peaceful Sunday of reading.

Author Profile

Chuck Reece is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Salvation South, the weekly web magazine you're reading right now. He was the founding editor of The Bitter Southerner. He grew up in the north Georgia mountains in a little town called Ellijay.

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