Front Porch: Winter 2003

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Front Porch: Winter 2003

by Harry L. Watson
Southern Cultures, Vol. 9, No. 4: Winter 2003

"Would the newfangled South have its faith in ancient treasure to fall back on?"

As cultural motifs go, sin and salvation are about as close to the cream of the southern crop as you can get. It’s hard to think of a time when at least some southerners did not feel awash in one and desperately in need of the other. As a matter of fact, that last statement works both ways: for every wino longing for a hymnal, there’s probably somebody in a prayer meeting longing for a drink. According to all the stereotypes, when liberals think of southern sins, they’re likely to focus on social injustices like slavery and racism. Conservatives tend to look for sin elsewhere, in personal hell-raising like drinking and gambling and running around. In either direction, it’s safe to say the South has plenty to answer for.