Tennesse Apology

Benjamin Glass

What I can’t get is how he, even being only half a man, didn’t flub it up. Even if he was a prophet or some riddle of a priest. The finest preachers I know hardly ever decline something to drink or smoke, or don’t temper a dirty joke here and there. When we was living in Bolivar and was Episcopalian for a spell, Father Hill was known to join the boys at poker night every once in a while. The joke was that Father Hill bet with communion wafers instead of poker chips. And Father Hill was who baptized me. Mama and Daddy turned me over when I was just an infant and I got sprinkled on the head with some blessed water. Later, when I was a boy fixing to grow up I decided for myself that the first one didn’t count, because then I didn’t know no better—then, I didn’t have a say in it one way or the other. A revival tent had come through town and them Jesus-jumpers were a sight to see. I was curious. This preacher preached about the requisite faith required before you could get saved. I said to him, “My Mama and Daddy was believers when I got baptized.” He said, “Well son, one’s belief can’t ultimately be communicated to another. It’s like darkness and light—no dark never learned nothing from no light.” He said, “Boy, you got to make a decision for yourself. You got to choose.” And right then, while a wrinkled woman twanged a hymn on a worn-out piano, I got dunked in an old horse trough they used for saving souls. Not long after, Mama and Daddy gave their religion all up, thinking it was just a bunch of hoopla. And now I’d figure they both know if it was or wasn’t. As for me, after all the years of church-going and potlucks and hellfire, I’m having a hard time of it too. After me and my wife was through I made up my mind that a man makes mistakes and a woman ain’t meant to forgive them. That’s the nature of living and it’ll be that way till there ain’t no living no more. It’d be a different story if any one gospel made mention of Jesus doing something by accident. I don’t care if it was something small as stubbing his toe. Even when he wilted that fig tree for not having anything to munch on—that’s just being hasty, I suppose. Nothing wrong with that. What makes a man—half, whole, or otherwise—is his trouble living among the bounty of his blunders. Nobody with even a bit of man in them could take that away, because that’s just what we are. Sure, I believe God might do it, but no bit of man.