What do you do with
Good Ole Boys like Me
Imagine that the universe has a soul and that this soul
is a wide and spacious heart. Imagine that it includes
all the stories of all the people on our small planet,
weaving them into whatever harmonies are possible.
Surely this soul includes good old boys like me.
When I was a kid Uncle Remus he put me to bed
With a picture of Stonewall Jackson above my head
Then daddy came in to kiss his little man
With gin on his breath and a Bible in his hand
He talked about honor and things I should know
Then he staggered a little as he went out the door
I can still hear the soft southern winds in the live oak trees
And those Williams boys they still mean a lot to me Hank and Tennessee
I guess we're all gonna be what we're gonna be
So what do you do with good ole boys like me
Nothing makes a sound in the night like the wind does
But you ain't afraid if you're washed in the blood like I was
The smell of Cape jasmine through the window screen
John R. and the wolfman kept me company
By the light of the radio by my bed
with Thomas Wolfe whispering in my head
I can still hear the soft southern winds...
When I was in school I ran with a kid down the street
And I watched him burn himself up on bourbon and speed
But I was smarter than most and I could choose
Learned to talk like the man on the six o'clock news
When I was eighteen Lord I hit the road but it really didn't matter how far I go
I can still hear the soft southern winds...
Yeah what do you do with good ole boys like me
Letter to God from a Good Ole Boy
I'm not sure I believe in you but I'd like to say a few things anyway. Some say you are a king on a throne and I can't go there. But some say you are a spacious heart who hears the stories of each and all, and who takes them into his heart like a loving father. Or like a loving mother. That's better..
When I saw my friend burn himself up on bourbon and speed, I had a few doubts about your love. Maybe you need our cooperation for your will to be done "on earth as it is in heaven." Maybe you needed me to help my friend. This would mean you're all loving but not all powerful, and this would make more sense to me. Your power is limited and completed by my own. You need me.
My mother says there's a name for this way of thinking. She calls it process theology. She says that, according to process theology, you are not a policeman in the sky or a king on a throne, but rather the Soul of the universe, everywhere at once. (She says that there's a band in Arkansas that even builds upon this idea: The Fat Soul Band.)
Anyway, she compares you to a dark and starlit sky in which we are all small but included and adds that you are a journey in whose life all journeys unfold. This means that your journey is a process, too: a process of receiving us into your life, again and again, and responding with fresh possibilities.
Maybe that's what faith is. Maybe it's trusting in the availability of fresh possibilities, even when you're not sure they're coming.
I hope that, if you exist, my story, too, somehow finds its way into your heart, along with the story of my friend who burned him up. And I hope you know what it's like to have your daddy come in and read the Bible to you, and then stagger out with a little gin on his breath. And what's it's like to hear the soft southern winds in the live old trees. And to listen to the radio late at night when everyone's in bed. Some of this is really quite wonderful, including the gin.
Sometimes we good ole boys feel a little excluded from the world of corporate and "cultured" elites: the ones who send their children to private schools and own condominiums and think of themselves as world citizens. We don't have the money to do those things. We're not exactly "cosmopolitan." We like our local neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, Nashville, Perryville, Toad Suck, Bourne, and Tupelo. We're working class. The best we can do is listen to country music and imagine ourselves inside the lives of the stories told in the songs. Hank would understand.
I have a question for you. You know how, when a story becomes part of your heart, it becomes part of you. You hear the voices, the songs, in your head. and you become many as well as one. Is this part of what is happening to you, too. When you feel what we love and know, when you hear our struggles and our joys, do you become a good ole boy, too? Are we part of your ongoing story? Do you ever wear your cap backwards?
I'm not asking you to love us good ole boys alone. I'd like you to wear lots of caps and to know what it's like to be bald, too. I'd like to be able to see a bit of you everywhere I look. I'd like to think that even the trees and stars and hills are part of you. I'd like to think that saying "yes" to life and "yes" to You are the same "yes." I know you don't have a separate body located in space, but I'd like to think that the universe itself is your body.
If any of this is true -- and I'm still not sure about all of this -- I'd like to say I love you. Can I help you? I'm a can-do, local kind of guy.