The Jackson Herald
April 18, 2001
Let's all sing
'Revive Us Again'
Ah, Spring! When the world wakes up to
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
"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
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
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
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.
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.