Walter Rhett’s New Work: “A Portion of Fault:” Gullah Prayer And Faith

The View from Circular Church, looking west. The Unitarian Church (left) and St. John's Lutheran Church in background.

The View from Circular Church, looking west. The Unitarian Church (left) and St. John’s Lutheran Church in background.

graphics-balloons-126913Print Release: June, 19, 2014.
Full color, FSC certified, acid free coated paper.
Set in Goudy Old Style, a legendary Arts and Crafts font. Historic design.

“A Portion of Fault:” Gullah Faith and Prayer


Ground Breaking


The digital work contains:

  • Rare African-American oral folk tales from slavery, challenging stereotypes involving religion and African moral intelligence.

  • An excerpt on Spirituals from Sterling A. Brown, noted scholar of African-American literature and folklore.

  • A historical summary of the theologian Howard Thurman’s powerful concept, “the waiting moment.”

  • An oral history example of the African-American rite of visionary prayer, “Seeking.”

  • Beatific visions and spirit calls in several Gullah Spirituals.

  • An African-American theology of prayer.

  • The use of African-American folk forms to preserve witness and lessons.

  • The difficulty Gullah poses (the language and its aesthetic) to contemporary research in history, literature, and religion.

  • A new transcription of Dr. Lorenzo Dow Turner’s audio interview in the Library of Congress archives with Ann Scott, recorded on St. Helena Island, South Carolina in 1932, in Gullah.

  • Cover art by Charleston civil war photographer, George Barnard, and American Depression photographer, Dorothea Lange.

  • The use of dialectics and traditional forms of induction as a logic of empirical interpretation.

  • Rare Audio: Lorenzo Dow Turner’s 1932 Audio Interview with Ann Scott, St Helena Island, South Carolina, in Gullah  

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Walter Rhett specialises in short form writing and its design for net and print. His writing explores voices, whose ideas and stories are alive in his dialogue.


“Religion was neither forced on the slave or accepted naively. In fact, the widespread acceptance of Christ by the enslaved is the biggest conversion experience in the history of Christianity after the birth and death of Jesus.”

"Born Two Years Before The Surrender"

“Born Two Years Before The Surrender”  Dorothea Lange Photograph.

America’s Infidels

More: Hobby Lobby trades with Chinese suppliers, whose government openly mandates abortion as national policy; its private enterprise seems to support a country whose abortion practices it would abhor on religious grounds! It’s investments include stocks of big pharma that make and market the conception products it says are against their beliefs when purchased by the women who work for them.

Their real policy seems to be it’s okay to make money by association with practices that directly and by reference violate their principles of faith. But when it comes to women’s health, let’s not spend a penny to protect the rights of others who have different faith views.

The Hobby Lobby Hypocrisy

Take note: Millions of women who watch men get their viagra and ED medicines paid for while, for a variety of legitimate health needs, they see their own medical needs denied for birth control–for religious reasons–even as the specific company that sued buys products from the country that is the world’s largest government mandated abortionist–that also targets female fetuses!

And in these attitudes, you find no cause for alarm?

As for the separation of private enterprise from the evil government, the arms-length argument doesn’t work for a variety of reasons. First, private enterprise grows the state through taxes, expanded economy, spending, and jobs–government and its policies and people are inseparable–which is why a boycott of South Africa was called for; states cannot not hide evil policies between their business activity that supports the oppression of citizens, wars against others, and violation of international norms–who do we think is being sanctioned when Russia is sanctioned or Iran?

Hobby Lobby are not Christians, but hypocrites.

What’s Your Hustle?

Zen monks in robes are working Times Square. except they aren’t really monks. It’s a hustle, but in the Times comments religion took a hit.

A better comparison might be the individuals and corporations who promise well-paid jobs to new arrivals, only to lock them into slave wages and living conditions; both sides of the equation are exploiting free will, manipulating virtue and morality, and taking advantage of the inner impulse to treat others as our neighbors.

The point is not all “charities” (who else gets the robo-calls on behalf of the police and firemen, credit card rates, broken computers, check scams?) or religions and congregations (many congregations are financially transparent, do good works without begging on the streets!) who work in the space of our hearts are equal or unequal.

The criteria of truth is a good separating point. Honestly tell me you are hungry or poor, if you don’t look high, I’ll help. Set off my hustle antenna; no way. That includes the old confidence scams (the murphy, which involved helping so-called lost travelers, an easy faked situation created for visitors to identify with).

Be a good Samaritan if you chose; but the Jericho road is treacherous. Protect yourself at all times.

walterhett, the lost-traveller murphy is still being run at the PABT. Awhile back, one Sunday, I was waiting for the bus to NJ when a young man approached our line with a sob story about trying to get home to Norfolk, VA, and being $12.46 short of a bus ticket. (These scamsters always use an exact number, which is more convincing than “I need $10″; as Pooh-Bah said, ‘merely corroborative detail intended to add verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.’) He collected several dollars. The next day, I was taking the weekday bus, which leaves from a different platform – and there he was with the same sob story, word for word, right down to the exact amount he needed. I mentioned that he sure did get back fast from Norfolk, and that he should have stayed down there instead of coming all the way back up to NYC to get himself stranded again.

Wow! Who knew? I didn’t think anyone knew about the old school cons like the murphy! I knew it as a guy or girl has an address he/she can’t find written on a piece of paper, an accomplice walks up to help and suggests swindling the lost person to the mark. The accomplice agrees to hold both wallets or a sum of cash as an act of good faith–and then, of course, disappears! I had it tried on me in Times Square as a kid, but I recognized it.

In the old days, the guy would have remembered you, and had another story good for a laugh. In Charleston, we have one we call “Ever Dying Soul.” Stricken with every fatal disease known to science, he has managed to survive for years, to repeat daily for listeners his litany of fatal ills.

Thanks for the heads-up!

Paying for Keeps

Power. Money. Winning. Control. The political desires of the Visigoths, Genghis Khan, Zulu chiefs, Boers, slaveholders, J. P. Morgan, gangs, and now rich white people who fight wars by proxy through politics and policies, through weakening the protections that aid those they seek to attack and plunder, by well-financed disinformation campaigns, and in the courts (re: Argentina).

Isn’t it time–as it’s pointed out about the enduring bad ideas of the other side: the alchemy of austerity producing prosperity without demand, overthrowing healthcare to improve the quality of life–to throw out the equally bad idea that ethical claims or corrections will work to force a strategic reset? Isn’t it a bad idea to continually place these bad ideas in an old, dysfunctional paradigm (when facts were supreme) without realizing the new purpose and raised stakes to which they are being put?


It’s a cultural principle that an ideology will form its own internal reaction; Tea Party nihilism is that reaction to the sustained push for absolute power and control. 

Note the tools: shadow government in the states, fiscal czars taking over public holdings (NC is fighting for control of Charlotte’s airport!), legislative templates by think tanks; unlimited media expenditures to dissemble progress and fearmonger, a barrage of bitter, demeaning insults whose dehumanization is minimized. 

Add in gun violence which finds comfort in the new conditions, increasing rates of horrific police violence; attacks on women, the shrieks from the one percent.

These people are not playing nice. Their sense of entitled victory goes beyond ideology; they share the values and tools of past despots. They desecrate our common ground.


The Right to Free Assembly

however rephrased,  the return of  “love or leave it” is old news. It undercuts the fundamental right that every citizen and member of America’s many communities have to engage in vision building about the path to the full expression of a more perfect union (not a union purged of differing views or people!).

Moreover, it ignores the moral argument that says true faith is a transcendent condition; if Christian it is rooted in the teachings of scripture, history, act, and sermon;  in the virtues of tolerance, forgiveness, charity, and mutual aid–the idea of neighborliness, not separation into fiefdoms that abandon what we share–here!

Why comport into a global example a single statement about working on Sunday into evidence “of how far well intentioned liberals have come”?

And more. claims of  religious beliefs being th “only” ones who supported freedom by wanting the government to stay out of issues of faith ignores the importance of the abolition of slavery: in many cases, slavery was carried out with full religious support that pressed for government’s endorsement! (I can list many Charleston ante-bellum pastors who made the case; a Methodist who disagreed was arrested and run out of town!) Several seceding states directly mention god’s support for slavery in their declarations; politics and religion were lockstep.

These are the telling reasons why we stay and dialogue: to set the record straight as we comprehend omitted history, and comprehend the changes history tells us we need for progress–including reaching out to each other in good faith; whatever their views, an idea the founders would endorse–not as a compromise but as a fundamental right of democracy.