“Choose Jesus or your (sic) toast.”
Sign on the First Assembly of God, Trimble, TN

I am seeing a lot more of Jesus since i moved back to the south. His picture, the white, long-haired historically inaccurate, picture greets me frequently.
As do the quotes attributed to him. Little signs in yards quoting the New Testament. Bigger signs asking me if I know him.
I don’t, Not really.
There’s even a billboard with a phone number for him.
I guess all of these signs are just a reminder to attend one of the many protestant churches in the area. There’s Baptist churches, Church of Christ churches or something called the Cumberland Presbyterian church, an off shoot of the regular Presbyterian Church as I understand it. These are in lovely buildings, church buildings, with spires and vestibules.
There are a lot of nondenominational churches here about. They appear out on the highways a lot of times in industrial warehouses, nothing fancy, On our way to Dyersburg there’s FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH: CASUAL ENVIROMENT, SERIOUS CHURCH.

“Rise up and be all that God intended YOU to be.” A mailer from the First Christian Church

Along Hwy 51, there’s 3 churches within about a mile of each other. There’s Faith Way that looks like an old Safeway Grocery (hence the name?) My favorite so far is GOD’S Place. Simple and to the point.

I got a taste of how much I’d be seeing Jesus when we came back for Randy’s uncle’s funeral in February.

Randy’s family goes back generations here. They helped or single handedly founded the town, depending on who you’re talking to. Randy’s grandfather was mayor for a while and founded the bank. Randy’s uncle Hamilton remained here while his sister, Randy’s mother, headed to sin city, the land of the stars, Los Angeles, after marrying a southern boy. Up until this last year, her 93rd year, she returned for planting and harvest season. During October the streets here would look as if they were banked with snow but it was the debris from the cotton harvest.

Hamilton, raised a family, grew the empire. He died in late January and we all gathered for his memorial service on February 7th. That’s when Jesus entered my life in a big way.
The family cemetery was given over to the town years back but Hamilton’s influence was still around us. The flags of all 13 confederate states aligned the fence- Hamilton was some doo-dah with the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He was responsible for the Confederate War Memorial that stands on the hill. We gathered in the cemetery under the tent and the Minister began telling us of his long standing relationship with Mr. Parks. He quoted the Bible and reminisced about the fun Christian times he had with Hamilton over the years. Then he paused, looked out at all of us and said, “I don’t know if you’re all Christians here” pauses dramatically and with a stern look, he pointed a finger and shouted “But you should be”.

Jesus and Randy at Miss Vicki’s Restaurant, right next to the new moonshine distillery, Trimble TN

I’m pretty sure he pointed at us: Emerson an agnostic,my new Wiccan daughter-in-law pregnant with their first child, me a meditator and a lapsed Catholic all serious offenses, I think.
I’m grateful to see less confederate flags than churches these days, but the next person to speak was an associate of Mr. Parks in the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. He was proud to know Mr. Parks who had fought for and paid for the oversized, and I mean OVERSIZED Confederate flag that flew above us on the hill. He was quite pleased to tell us that it was the biggest tourist attraction in Dyer County, Tn.