In his earthy, down-home style, Clarence [Jordan] would paraphrase the parable of the rich farmer in the Gospel of Luke, and say:

“Let’s give him a name, make it more personal. Let’s call him Sam-- you can call him ‘Uncle’ if you want to... So, Uncle Sam has an abundant harvest and he has to do
something with it. He ignores the starvation in China-- ‘the only good communist is a dead communist’-- and in India-- ‘they are just lazy.’ He stores it all up, and then just reclines, dines, wines and shines. But then God says: ‘You nitwit, this very night they are demanding your soul of you.’ Now who is ‘they’? It doesn’t say, ‘your soul is required of you,’ it says ‘they require your soul.’ God didn’t kill that man. ‘They mean all those barns and all those granaries, and all those fields, and all that stuff he had given himself over the years-- they are demanding his soul. He didn’t die-- something more tragic than that occured. He lived in bondage to the very things he thought would serve him.”

Dallas Lee, The Cotton Patch Evidence, 1971

Clarence Jordan was a Southern Baptist theologian and activist. He was a founding member of Koinonia Farm in 1942, an integrated Christian commune and working peanut farm in Americus, Georgia. Jordan was instrumental in the founding of Habitat for Humanity, but perhaps his greatest legacy to Southern Christianity were the Cotton Patch Gospels in which he attempted, as illustrated above, to translate the teaching of the Gospel into a Southern vernacular with the philosophical and moral questions raised by the civil rights movement conceptually translated as well.


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