Growing Up With White Privilege

Growing Up With White PrivilegeI grew up in a black neighborhood; I grew up in a white neighborhood. To the left of our house lived the Moore’s. Their small home sat on a rise overlooking the creek that separated the two properties. To the right lived Dwight, Mark, Pat and around the corner, where Mount Vernon Church Road met Six Forks, Yvonne. Four whites to the right, five blacks to the left.

The dads got together one summer and built us a bus stop at the corner of Mount Vernon and Six Forks. Walking to the bus stop became something of a parade. Today such an occurrence may be mistaken for a protest march but for us, in the mid 60s, we were simply eleven kids heading off to school.

After our stop, the bus would pick up Richard and Wilbert Dunn. The Dunns lived in a home that stood across from what is now Taylor’s Wine Shop (Taylors also sells fishing worms.) Next, also on the left side of Six Forks, we’d stop for the Holding kids. True story (as I remember it), Chester Holden was a short, muscular boy, a few years older than me. When I tried out for football in high school, Chester was already on the team. The players called him Tree Stump. Except because Chester’s legs were so short, each year when players were required to run—I forget how far it was—Chester failed to run within the time necessary to make the team. His legs moved faster than all the rest of us, but he didn’t run fast enough. Each year Coach Shirley would hold Chester back after practice and give him another shot. And each year, miraculously, Chester made the team.

During summers we would play pickup baseball in a field across from what is now New Life Camp. What was then Mount Vernon Church was a pop fly from the field. We’d arrive on bikes or foot and divide teams evenly to keep things competitive. None of us cared about the color of a boy’s skin. We simply wanted a good game of ball.

I played organized ball on Bayleaf’s Little League team. Later we became Six Forks, but changing the name did not improve our record. We were county boys playing city kids who drew from a larger pool of players. During practices Arthur Thompson would hit, catch, throw with us. Arthur was easily one of the best players at practice. His younger brother, Boo Boo, showed up at practice too, but Boo Boo was more of a cut-up and didn’t take things as serious. Given that we lost most of our games and Arthur could hit farther, run faster, and throw harder than most of the boys on the team. I once asked Dad why Arthur never played with us during real games.

Dad explained that Arthur was black. Like somehow that fact had escaped me. I asked why that mattered. I don’t remember Dad’s explanation. Only thing I recall is that whatever he said still made no sense. If you are getting trounced by K-Mart, Brentwood, Millbrook Church, the Teamster’s, St. James Church, Carter’s Seafood, New Hope Church and pretty much every other team you play, you want help. Arthur would have definitely made us a better team. But as I mentioned, he was black.

Once Mom, my sister and I were in the K-Mart at the corner of Six Forks and Old Wake Forest—the one that used to flood every time Crabtree Creek overflowed its banks. I spied Arthur and his family in the store, called to him, and Mom shushed me. Turns out it was fine to know Arthur on a baseball field but not in a store where people might see.

In first grade Eleanor Rodgers wore glasses. I wore glasses. She was black; I was white. When you’re called “four-eyes” in the first grade, you’ll be friends with anyone who keeps masking tape and Elmer’s glue in their desk. Eleanor and I were best buds.

My freshman year at Millbrook, Jeffry Harris kicked my butt outside a trailer as I was leaving English class. No kidding. He actually kicked my backside. He wanted to fight. I explained I didn’t want to fight. Had I fought Jeffry he could have not only kicked my butt, but probably broken my glasses and nose. Three years later, on the night we graduated at Memorial Auditorium in downtown Raleigh, Jeffry came over and shook my hand. We’d hardly spoken the four years at Millbrook. Only thing I could figure was, not fighting back had somehow let Jeffry know that I wasn’t his enemy.

I was not then; I am not now.

I grew up with the white privilege of having black friends — and I thank God for it.

Wide Asleep

Wide Asleep

When leading others, we are never called upon to display our doubts publicly. Doubts are best shared in private. To publicly express doubt when others need your vision is to confirm their worst fears; and their fears seldom become reality.

“Comfort” = “with strength.” When we comfort others we add our strength to those who are weak.

In comfort we can rest our eyes while wide asleep.

For those in Christ this is a gift from God.

Who needs your strength and confidence today?

 

Seeds of a Story

The Day The World Sneezed

The Day The World SneezedMarch 12, 2020, I closed my laptop and walked across the Neuse River bridge to enjoy my evening walk on the greenway. Midway across the bridge the title for a story came to mind: The Day The World Sneezed. That Thursday, Raleigh and Wake County had begun to discuss imposing restrictions on business. There was talk schools might close the following week. When I got home from my walk I made a fake book cover with the words: “The Day The World Sneezed” at the top and posted it on Facebook. Done with that, I thought.

Friday during my evening walk Elmer showed up. Elmer introduced himself as the main character in “The Day The World Sneezed” and began to explain how the “crud” had disrupted his life. He talked as we walked. If you know a writer you may have witnessed them staring off into space in a daze. Odds are a character in their head is speaking and your writer friend does not want to miss a word. That night I celebrated my birthday with my wife, boys, and granddaughter. There I mentioned Elmer and how he had set out to help others but ended up making a mess of things – for a while, anyway.

Saturday morning, March 14, I began writing. Monday, March 16, our city and county began shutting down. As a writer who lives in a cave with characters no one can see, “shelter-in-place” was God’s gift to me. Finally I had an excuse to avoid all social contact: which meant I had more writing time. On April 5, Elmer finished telling me his story.

Several dear friends have mentioned that it is too soon to tell Elmer’s story: that people are dying (that’s true) and grieving (also true), but Elmer did not seem concerned about any of this when he told me his story.

“The Day The World Sneezed” is a story of hope, helping others, and finding the “light-hearted” moments in the midst of tragedy. If such a story is too soon, I’m sure Elmer will understand. He’s not the sort to force himself upon others. Maybe later, after all this “crud” business is over, you’ll consider listening to Elmer’s story. He really is, a colorful character.

How To Make A Scene

Building Your Novel One Scene at a Time

Scene Progression

State the goal of your Lead at the beginning of each scene. What does she want? What does he need? How does he plan to acquire the thing he wants? What will she give up for the thing she wants? This “want” is your Lead’s stake in the ground.

Promise pain through foreshadowing (tears, heartache, physical discomfort)

Deliver pain through action (show your Lead suffering)

 

Progress from goal to conflict, disaster, character development (how does she grow?)

 

Suspense is anticipation, so announce the reward for your Lead early in the scene

 

Restate your Lead’s goal as necessary (halfway through)

 

 

Never let your Lead relax for too long

 

 

Increase the risk of failure (towards the end of the scene add-to the penalties for failure)

Tension comes from unresolved conflict so leave your character’s world messy

 

Promise the payoff for that scene, then delay the payoff until later in the story.

 

 

Deliver a payoff, but not the thing your Lead sought

 

 

 

A Novel IdeaExcerpted from A Novel Idea.

From the Author

For ten years I’ve sat across the appointment table with authors who pitch me their project. When I ask:

“Who’s your main character?”
“What’s the inciting incident in Act One?”
“What is the main character’s call to action and how do they deny this call?”
I often get blank stares.

I wrote this book so authors could review their project and fix their story: or, in many cases, toss the story and begin a new novel.

I quote from successful authors and screenwriters because these individuals have mastered the craft of writing. There is nothing new in this book that you cannot find in a library full of writing books. I have simply compiled the essential elements of a novel into one book.

I teach from this book at writers conferences. Some authors say it helps them organize their novel. You decide if it helps you.

A Christmas Crisis Story

What is your Christmas Crisis Story?

A Christmas Crisis StoryOn Christmas Eve, when I was 18, I drove home from my girlfriend’s house and ran out of gas a little past 11 PM. I don’t remember how I located a phone. My guess is, I knocked on a door. I do remember when I got Dad on the phone and told him what happened, he said, “Boy, didn’t you look at the gas gauge before you left.” I said I had but hadn’t taken into account that stations would close early that night. If Dad said more, I don’t recall what it was. What I do remember is that he left Mom alone at home on Christmas Eve and brought me a gallon of gas.

That year on Christmas Eve my father came to me when I needed him. My Father in heaven still comes for those who need help and call out – who are empty spiritually, emotionally … broken down. I doubt Dad ever thought what he did that night reflected the love of God, but it did.

Tonight there are so many who are scared, hurting … lost in the darkness of a side road. I pray my Father in heaven will hear their cry and come to them in their hour of need.

What’s your #ChristmasCrisis story?

The Prodigal Brother

The Prodigal BrotherThere was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, “Give me my share of the estate.” So because the younger son had asked first, the father gave the younger son a double portion and said to him, “May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.” When the older brother learned of his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, father!”

But the father said, “Your brother came to me first. He has received the greater blessing and it will not be taken from him.” From that day forward the older brother held a grudge against his younger sibling. The older brother said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother.”

Not long after that, their mother came to the younger son and said, “Flee at once. Stay with my brother for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. So the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there he gained even greater wealth. In everything he prospered. After he had gained one wife, he gained another. Soon his family grew. But, there was strife between the younger son and his father-in-law. The two families argued over the flocks and fields. So the younger son hired himself out to his father-in-law, and worked for him, gaining even greater wealth for both men. But still the two families argued.

So the younger son said to his father-in-law, “Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland. You know how much work I’ve done for you. Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. ”

But that day he heard that the sons of his father-in-law were saying, “Our sisters’ husband has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” That evening the Lord said to the younger brother in a dream, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your brother, and I will be with you.”

So with his wives and children and flocks he set out. But while he was still a long way off, he looked up and there was his brother, coming with four hundred men. The younger son he divided the children among his two wives into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. He thought, “If my brother comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.” He put the female servants and their children in front, his first wife and her children next, and second wife and his son in the rear.

While he was still a long way off, his brother saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his younger brother and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.

The older brother asked, “What’s the meaning of all these flocks and herds I met?”

“To find favor in your eyes,” replied the younger brother.

“But I already have plenty. Keep what you have for yourself.”

“No, please!” said the younger. “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have forgiven me.” Because the younger brother insisted, the older accepted his gifts.

The older brother said, “Let us be on our way; I’ll accompany you.” But though the younger son agreed to return to the home of his older brother, he did not but went another way.

The Day I Died

What's Your Story?

What's Your Story? The Day I Died

I don’t remember the exact date or time when I died but I remember it as if it was yesterday.

When I was ten or so, I became the 1000th member of St. Mark’s United Methodist church. At least that’s how I remember it. But who is to say how accurate a 10-year-old’s memory is when they are decades removed from the event. Not long after my parents grew disillusioned with Malloy Owens and stopped attending St. Mark’s. For reasons I still can’t explain, sometimes I would ride my single-speed Spider bike up Six Forks road to sit in the balcony during Sunday services a Bayleaf Baptist.

During my years at Millbrook High, at the urging of my friend Greg Martin, I attended MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship). Later, during my first year at N.C. State, another friend, Greg Rogers, encouraged me to join Campus Life.

Then I died.

I’m not one hundred percent sure which came first: the incident at the pond or the encounter on the second floor of D. H. Hill library. I only know at some point I was alive and then I was not.

No one was with me that night in the theatre on the second floor of the library when I confessed to God that I could never kick my sin-habit: that given the choice, I would always steal, lie, cheat, cuss, and demand to be in charge of my life. My mind tended to wander towards lewd thoughts and violent fantasies. So that day at the pond on the property of New Life Camp I waded out, took a breath, and fell in.

After my baptism in New Life’s pond and receiving the Holy Spirit in D. H. Hill’s library, I died and came back to life a new man. To be honest, few things changed after my second birth. Most of my habits and inclinations remained. But one thing had changed: my desire to become more like Christ and less like the old Eddie. I’m convinced that when I became baptized with water and the Holy Spirit of Christ my spiritual DNA began to change. Slowly, so very slowly, but changed I am. I have an inner peace, a confidence, that when I die I will see Christ, His Father, and all my relatives and friends who also died and were born anew with the Spirit of Christ.

I come from a family of individuals who went to church on a regular basis but that couldn’t save me. My great grandfather was a primitive Baptist preacher but that couldn’t save me. I went to church most of my youth and became a member of a church at the age of ten but that couldn’t save me. I lived under a death sentence due to my sins. The only thing that could save me was exchanging my life for the life of Christ.

That’s my story. What’s your death-to-life story? If you do not have one ask yourself this:

* If Jesus Christ is a real historical figure … and
* If He claimed to be the Son of God … and
* If Christ was executed for claiming to be the King of the Jews and One who takes away our sins … and
* He was none of these things … then

Why would those closest to Him agree to be beaten with rods, stoned with rocks, whipped until their flesh peeled, and beheaded and crucified for a lie? What was their motive? What did they gain by spreading such a scam? Is it possible that a group of first century Jews despised the religious authority so much that they welcomed the destruction of the Temple — that they invited the mass slaughter of their friends and family?

Would you be willing to die for such a lie?

If not, if it makes more sense to agree that Jesus must have appeared to his disciples and at least 500 followers (as Biblical accounts claim), then at the very least consider that everything he said about himself is true. And if it is, then why not invite Christ to have a conversation with you. Ask. Start with a simple, audible request for the two of you to have a chat. Invite Him to join you.

If you have questions or wish to talk about any of this, contact me: eddie@eddiejones.org.

I love to tell His story.