Tag Archives: Baptist

Robert Flynn- Author, wonderful writer, funny stuff

              ROBERT FLYNN
      I was born at home in a house surrounded by cotton fields.  A few miles to the east and we would would have been in an oil field.  A few miles west and we would have been on land good for nothing but running cows and chasing jackrabbits.  My grandfather had been tricked into buying the only place in twenty miles that would grow cotton.
It was in the cotton field that I first learned the power of the English language.  Those who chopped cotton with a hoe were not called hoers.  As my mother explained to me with a switch.  It occurred to me that if the wrong word like hoer had the power to move my mother to such action, just think what using the right word like hoe hand could accomplish. 
That was when I first got the notion of being a writer.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  We didn’t go in much for writing at the country school I attended.  We studied penmanship.  But we knew what a writer was.  A writer was somebody who was dead.  And if he was any good he had been dead a long time.  If he was real good, people killed him. They killed him with hemlock. Hemlock was the Greek word for Freshman Composition. 
The country school I attended was closed, and we were bused to Chillicothe.  Chillicothe, Texas is small.  Chillicothe is so small there’s only one Baptist Church.  Chillicothe is so small you have to go to Quanah to have a coincidence.  For a good coincidence, you have to go to Vernon.  Chillicothe was fairly bursting with truth and beauty, and my teacher encouraged me to write something that had an epiphany.  For an epiphany, you had to go all the way to Wichita Falls. 
Real writers wrote about such things as I had never heard of.  Damsels.  Splendor falling on castle walls.  For splendor, we had to go to the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show.  Since I wasn’t overly familiar with damsels and  splendor, I tried reading what real writers wrote about rural life.  “Dear child of nature, let them rail.  There is a nest in a green vale.”  Which was pretty mystifying to me.  Didn’t writers get chiggers like everybody else?
It looked like for truth and beauty you had to cross Red River.  All I knew about was a little place called Chillicothe.  And it wasn’t even the Chillicothe that was on the map.  Truth in that mythical place was neither comic nor tragic, neither big nor eternal.  And it was revealed through the lives of common folk who belched and fornicated, and knew moments of courage, and saw beauty in their meager lives.  But I could not write about the people I knew without using the vocabulary they knew.  My father did not believe a cowboy said “golly bum” when a horse ran him through a bob wire fence.
      Words are not casual things.  They are powerful.  Even explosive.  Words can start wars, or families.  Words can wound, they can shock and offend.  Words can also heal, and explain, and give hope and understanding.  Words have an intrinsic worth, and there is pride and delight in using the right word.  Anyone who chops cotton with an axe is a hoer.
(From “Truth and Beauty”)
      Taken from Robert Flynn’s website.  For funny stuff yet serious, go to http://www.robertflynn.net .

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Randy-A writer, in search of material

      The Baptist, especially the Southern Baptist, belong in the main to the conservative sector of our society.   My roots were there.   It has been interesting to me, even at this late stage of life, to realize that many of the old hymns still resonate with me, even when I feel I have moved on and particularly enjoy classical forms.   This connection with old-time religion, tent Revivals and camp meetings, hasn’t been something I have readily admitted.   “Narrow-mindedness” became an issue for me almost as soon as I left home for college, at a time when my personal rebellion merged with my politics.   It’s hard to say which had the greatest influence on me.

      In the debates in which I was a part of that followed…debates that didn’t include family members who remained in the Baptist church…I never talked about the church I came from.   My silence over the years…whenever I found myself in the middle of debates about such hot topics as abortion, evolution, guns, and even war…shouldn’t be misjudged: I have strong feelings about such issues, passions that would have placed me at odds with my family.   Yet I never confronted them openly.   I never with passion said much; yet inside passions were there.   Now, with the death of my parents, opportunity was lost; the impetus, gone.   We never had that conversation.   I doubt that it would’ve gone anywhere and would’ve garnered anything but anger.   At this point, I’m thankful I cherish the old hymns.

Randy Ford

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Randy-Robert Flynn, writing “abusing” humor

Bob Flynn is a friend, an old friend, who uses and abuses humor in writing. Also he isn’t afraid to admit that he is Southern Baptist. He pokes fun at his faith, and in his essays, Growing Up a Sullen Baptist he is reverent and irreverent. What? Yes, he’s that good. In his work you are never out of sight of who (or is it whom?) he is, and there’s a lot to him.

An impression of out of the way places in Texas: the landscape, landscapes of cotton fields, por dirt, funny people, from Vietnam to Texas, a landscape so hard and unforgiving that I don’t see how Bob keeps his sense of humor. In my view it is a land of narrow mindness and unforgiveness, and yet, with Bob’s perspective you’ll find humor there. Everyone will laugh. Everyone will cry. I can almost guarantee it. His view is down to earth, his perspective unique, and for that I envy him. He has spent a lifetime perfecting his craft. His style gives the impression that he hasn’t worked that hard at it. In this presentation of his, simplicity becomes sublime, and funny; it’s always worth seeing what he has to say? (Seeing something to hear it? English! Or am I wrong? English can be so difficult and funny. Go to the home page of Bob’s website and see what his mother taught him about the English language: http://www.robert-flynn.net/index.htm .) Bob is therefore defined by his west Texas roots, and he didn’t try to run away from his (roots) as I tried to do.

Here is Bob’s publicity blurb. “Robert Flynn is a native of Chillicothe, Texas; despite its size, the best known Chillicothe outside of Ohio, Missouri and Illinois. Chillicothe is so small there’s only one Baptist Church. Chillicothe is so small you have to go to Quanah to have a coincidence. Chillicote is fairly bursting with truth and beauty, and at an early age Flynn set out to find it, discarding along the way seven novels (if he hasn’t finished his latest one): North To Yesterday; In the House of the Lord; The Sounds of Rescue, The Signs of Hope; Wanderer Springs; The Last Klick; The Devils Tiger, and co-authored with the late Dan Klepper Tie-Fast Country. (At Baylor University and Trinity University, I knew Bob as playwright/teacher and for his adaptation of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying.) He is also known for a two-part documentary “A Cowboy Legacy,” shown on ABC-Television; a nonfiction narrative, A Personal War in Vietnam; an oral history When I Was Just Your Age; three story collections, Seasonal Rain, Living with The Hyenas, Slouching Toward Zion and a collection of essays, Growing Up a Sullen Baptist. He also contributes to The Door: The Word’s Pretty Much Only Magazine of Religious Satire. 

“His life and work could be described as The Search for Morals, Ethics, Religion, or at least a good story in Texas and lesser known parts of the world.”

And let me repeat: I consider Bob to be a good friend.

Good night, Randy Ford


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