I can’t honestly remember when I first heard of Will Campbell. I’m thinking it was in the mid 80’s somewhere and possible there was an article in Rolling Stone magazine about Waylon Jennings and it mentioned Campbell. I wasn’t old enough or should I say wasn’t in tune enough to fall in behind a man like Will Campbell. I was too self-absorbed. I did realize in my deepest senses though that this man felt as close to a prophet to anyone I had ever heard. I’m sure he would laugh at that description, but I knew he held to a truth so deep that it was eternal.
Years passed and I slowed down long enough to read Brother to a Dragonfly. If that book isn’t mentioned up there with any of the American classics, then the classics can all be washed away in my opinion.This Amite County, Mississippi farmers son, followed the highest truth to soar above the general beliefs of his heritage, cutting a path for a generation of white Southerners to follow. He is a shining beacon and a worldly reminder that the mind of the South isn’t as predictable as one might think. Hallelujah !
I had coffee this morning with a dear friend of our family, and discovered she and Campbell are friends. In his declining years and battling the forces that come for us all, she had recently visited with Campbell and was reflecting to me that indeed “prophet” may not be too far off of a description.
If you are interested in challenging your faith in a way that may call you on your “settled in” beliefs, you should investigate the life and writings of Will Campbell. Along with Buechner, Merton, Spong and any other writer or human being reaching for an authentic faith, Campbell must not be missed.He is that vital to the truth.
Here is a You Tube clip of Campbell discussing the church and racism.
In writing this post I was listening to Walt Wlikins, and the old Harold Melvin and the Blue notes song “Wake Up Everybody”, kept running through my mind.