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April 18, 2001


Column
By Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
April 18, 2001

Let's all sing 'Revive Us Again'
Ah, Spring! When the world wakes up to new life.
When dogwoods bloom, birds sing, grass grows, eyes itch, noses run, cars turn yellow and the Dow takes a dive.
When a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of love . . . and beer, baseball, fishing, golf and NASCAR . . . and a job that interferes with everything.
When a young maiden dreams of Prince Charming and pretty dresses and beautiful weddings . . . and bikinis and the beach . . . and summer work that puts the dream on hold.
When a young preacher (Hey, he's still in his 50s!) dreams of revival at his church.
And this dream is different. The dreamer actually believes it is coming true. He is backing up his belief with prayer and faith. And his flock is following.
Here, in his own words, Hulon Hill tells how it all came about:
"On Sunday night, March 18, I had a dream. In the dream I saw Tom Atkins preaching in Bethany Church.
"Tom is the North Georgia Conference evangelist for the Methodist Church. He preached in revival services at Bethany several years ago.
"Well, when I got to my office Monday morning and began looking through the mail, the third envelope I picked up was from Tom Atkins.
"I said, 'Lord, are you trying to tell me something: the dream last night, and now this letter from Tom?'
"I opened the envelope. It was Tom's monthly newsletter. At the end he listed hi preaching schedule for the next several months.
"I looked, and the dates that have been on my heart for revival at Bethany were open.
"After praying, I picked up the phone and punched in Tom's number. I was ready to leave a message on his answering machine. 'What preacher is going to answer his phone on Monday morning at 9 o'clock?' I thought.
"The phone rang one time and Tom said, 'Hello.'"
The rest is history. Or history in the making. Or a dream coming true.
Tom will preach at the 8:45 early service on Sunday, April 22, at the 11 o'clock service, at 7 that evening, and at 7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
No, this will not be the revival to end all revivals. Blooming dogwoods, singing birds and growing grass remind me every spring that I, too, need to wake up and live again. Like everything in Nature, I never outgrow my need for renewal. Perhaps some of you feel that way, too.
Revivals can help. They are special.
For me, one revival was very special. It happened 66 years ago, but I remember it well. I don't recall the specific date, but I'm sure it was in the springtime.
It happened in the little Methodist Church in McLemoresville, Tenn., population 311 if you count dogs, cats and chickens. But the population was not nearly 311 in the 1920s and '30s; it was more like 150.
And every last one of us - from the youngest to the oldest - turned out for revival meeting. Of course, we didn't have television back then. Or fancy automobiles. And even if we did, we didn't have anywhere to go. There was home, church and school. That was it. If we weren't at one of those places, we were lost.
So revival meetings at the church were big time. There were morning and night services. They lasted all week. Sometimes they stretched over to the second week. The old folks called 'em "protracted meetings."
Like I said, the one I'm remembering today was in the spring. School was not out, and one of the morning services was designated school day. They just turned out classes and marched everybody, en masse, a half-mile down a dusty lane to the church.
The ACLU and Madeline O'Hare would have had a hissy or, as my Mama called 'em, "a conniption fit."
Altar call was something else. It lasted, and lasted and lasted. Altar call lasted until somebody answered.
A lot of kids who had never heard "Revive Us Again" and "Just As I Am" heard those songs sung so many times at altar call, they memorized the words to 'em, right there.
Well, during this particular revival and altar call that I am telling you about, Miss Audrey Mitchell walked back to the pew where I was misbehaving, and Miss Audrey said to me, "Virgil, you need to go up there." So I went.
Miss Audrey was my schoolteacher, and when she said I needed to go, I needed to go. No ifs, ands, buts, reasons or excuses about it.
It was 1935 and I was 12 years old and in the sixth grade, and I didn't fully understand what I was doing. But apparently God and Miss Audrey did.
I still don't fully understand. I see through a glass darkly.
However, a little enlightment has come to me in the 66 years that have elapsed. For that, I thank preachers and teachers who dream dreams and expect them to come true.
When I see Miss Audrey I'm going to ask her why she singled me out that day. Every boy sitting on that pew with me was cutting up. Maybe she knew I'd either be dead or in jail by now - without the influence of the Church and its Leader. Maybe she, like my Mama, prayed and believed I would come back to it someday - after one World War and more personal battles than I can count.
So I've set foot on the journey again. No, haven't arrived yet. Some days I take three steps forward, and some days I slip back three, and that's the way it is - down here.
Yes, I get tired. I get tired physically. I get tired mentally. I get tired emotionally. I get tired spiritually. I need reviving.
So I am looking forward to hearing the living Word that Tom Atkins has for me at Bethany next week. Join me if you like. Perhaps there's a Word for you, too.
If you can't make it to Bethany, keep your eyes, ears and heart open. Most Christian churches have revivals this time of year. Chances are one's coming soon to a church near you. If it's not having mid-week services, it's always open Sundays.
If Eros, booze, baseball, fishing, golf, NASCAR, Prince Charming, pretty dresses, weddings, bikinis, the beach and a zillion other dull, weak and wimpy worldly pleasures can't wake you up to new life this spring, you may want to check with a Higher Power.
Virgil Adams is a former owner-editor of The Jackson Herald.

Column
By Jana Admas
The Jackson Herald
April 18, 2001


'Degas & America'
When my friend Elizabeth called me a few weeks ago to see if I'd like to go with her to see the Degas exhibit at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, I said yes, then started thinking about what I knew of Degas.
The dancers, of course - I knew of his paintings of dancers and the ballet from the French Impressionist period. I checked out the www.high.org museum website and learned a little more about Edgar Degas and the works on display in the "Degas and America: The Early Collectors" exhibit. It includes 81 works - oils, pastels, drawing, prints and sculptures from throughout his career, from the early student days to the later years when his eyesight was failing and he used his hands to aid painting.
The works on display had all been purchased by American collectors at the turn of the 20th century, and will be exhibited at the High Museum through May 27. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and $5 for students through age 17 and may be purchased in advance. In fact, that's a good idea, as they can be mailed to you if you order 10 days in advance and then you can walk right into the exhibit at your allotted time.
Elizabeth and I had tickets for 11 a.m. Saturday. I was surprised and pleased to be handed a headset that had an attached keypad so I could type in the number of the artwork I wanted to learn more about and then step back and look while I listened to the description and history of the piece. The museum became crowded while we were there, but the headset allows a certain sense of privacy - you are essentially alone with the artwork, if you choose to be. And then, if you want, you can take the headset off and mingle with the crowd.
Elizabeth asked me what my favorite was, and I couldn't really say. I knew to expect paintings and drawings and bronze sculptures of Degas' favorites - the dancers, the horse races, portraits, the singers and dancers in Paris and family in New Orleans, but beyond that I didn't really have clear expectations. So I was amazed, really amazed, at what I saw. I saw portraits where I felt I could reach out and touch the hair of Degas' cousins and it would feel real; we laughed at the expression on the face of a bored young cousin who, caught in a quick sketch, was spinning in her chair; we wondered about the expression on the face of a woman seated near a large arrangement of flowers (A Woman Seated Beside a Vase of Flowers) - her eyes and expression caught the attention, pulling it off the canvas to the distance of whatever she was looking at or worrying about. There were charcoal and pastel sketches that captured and exuded a liveliness and paintings with beautiful, strong colors and expressions.
It's hard to pick one favorite, and I don't know all the correct names and terms, but there were several I was drawn to again and again - the painting of the three women combing their hair; the charcoal sketch of Degas' art critic/writer friend; a tiny print of a lonely dirt road; three separate, yet similar, printings of Degas' artist friend, Mary Cassat, that showed the changes the artist made in printmaking from plate to plate; a small bronze statue of a dancer twisting around to look at the sole of her foot; a beautiful bronze of a woman bathing; a bright and strong-lined charcoal and pastel sketch of a woman drying her hair with a towel, and the painting placed next to it, in mostly quiet greens and blues, of a woman getting into her bath; and, of course, there were several of the paintings and sketches of the dancers that I favored. I think Elizabeth's favorite, with its soft lines and colors, was of a laundress in Paris, with a wisp of hair floating across her downturned face.
I listened to the description of one painting I liked a lot - Three Dancers in Yellow Skirts, ca. 1891, and learned that Degas painted it when his eyesight was failing. In fact, the description encouraged viewers to look for some of the fingerprints Degas left as he worked the paint with his fingers, feeling what he could no longer clearly see.
Allow enough time to really look and see at the exhibit. Then there's a collection of much more modern art on display as you exit the Degas exhibit - quite a clash - as well as the standing exhibits the museum offers and the gift shops to catch your attention. A display of Michelangelo's works is planned for this summer, beginning in June and stretching into September, I believe.
After we left the museum, paid for parking and made our way back onto I-85, it was definitely time for a late lunch. We headed into Decatur and ate lunch outside at Mick's, then walked across the street to get coffee and rich espresso brownies at Starbucks. We laughed at ourselves for getting our dose of "culture" and for being so trendy but still, it was a lot of fun, and the exhibit was worth seeing.
For more information about the Degas exhibit or any upcoming exhibits, log onto www.high.org.
Jana Adams is features editor of The Jackson Herald.

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