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City Limit

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We got up early that morning, a few days ago.

Ate a quick breakfast, made just enough coffee to take with us on the road.

We were on a mission, to see an acquaintance who offered to help us with a problem we were having at the house. So, we piled into the car and took off down the interstate.

Presently we made it to the city limits of the town we wanted and after a series of two-lane roads, caught up with our friend — who used to live in that town, but who had moved a considerable distance awayoutside of it. Anyway, we got the assistance we needed and were on our way back home.

My wife and I talked of our friend moving away further from town, and the reasons why. The old place he had been located inside the city limits was literally falling down, after the heyday of the place being passed decades ago. Now, the place was sliding into sharp decline, people becoming hopeless. We had heard that there was talk of the crime rate rising higher and higher, gangs roaming the streets looking for something to steal and sell.

I recalled on my last trip through, I looked up the statistics for the place: As expected, population falling since the 70's, property crime and personal crime through the roofnot only above the national average, but above the state of Arkansas average as well.

So, as we re-entered town on the way to the interstate, we took stock of the place once more.

Closed up businesses in the downtown district, rusty water towers, rotting grain elevators in the distance. What few nice-looking businesses there were had moved to the periphery of town, along the interstate: Wal-Mart, good eating places, gas stations.

Continued on Page 5

‘Wordaholic’

By Robert L. Hall ROBERT HALL (cont.)

At least they were clean and antiseptic.

Not so downtown.

I wanted to stop into a bookstore I had liked in the past but now was owned by someone else. We wended our way into the center of the dilapidated smallish town square, boarded up store-fronts, and abandoned shops.

We found the place and entered.

It had a coffee and wine spot on one side of the store.

Only a few racks of books, however. What books there displayed were generic, uninteresting, but with an odd appearance — each one had a piece of paper on it, with curious messages, like “This is for Obama readers,” or “The Worst of Trump.”

These messages were not even pretending to be cutesy.

They were overt and with one intention in mind — to cater to haters.

My spouse picked up a book on the Trump rack and it was a scathing attack on him. She looked at the other titles. All the same, by unknown authors who shared one thing in mindattacking him. Of course, the Obama volumes were all attributions for him to ascend straight to Godhood after his brief inhabitation here on earth.

My wife said, loud enough for the girl behind the counter to hear loud and clear.

“Let's get out of here. I wouldn't buy anything in this place!”

Which was fine with me.

The only thing I found even remotely unpolitic was a dog-grooming pamphlet.

As we left, I scratched my head. Who runs a business that is intent on running customers back out the door, by intimidating and insulting them? No smart private business person, I assumed. Nothing like the original bookstore had been ROBERT HALL (cont.)

years ago.

So, we got back in our car and headed to the aforementioned Walmart, where we did some brief browsing.

But, en route, we passed a church on the way. And on the sign out front in capital letters, it read: “Celebrate Juneteenth.”

Now, I know what Juneteenth is — it celebrated the freeing of the slaves after the Civil War. In particular, President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. No problem, right?

Only, what church signs

for is to proclaim the 'Good News' of Christ and his message to a sinful, dying world. I don't recall any religious institutions around my own city calling for occasions for celebration for attention to certain racial groups, or causes, or even social justice celebrations.

What holidays out there that might appeal to select groups are usually not on church signs which are supposed to be encouraging Christians to attend-not Christians of a certain color, or creed, or political view anyway.

A Christian… any Christian… should be welcomed by any congregation anywhere that proports to have those values, regardless.

A sentiment not unique to me. For instance, from the internet site,

“ The heart of the gospel message shifts from sin and redemption to social justice There is no doubt that the Bible commands us to take care of the unfortunate and defend those who are oppressed. This is a very real and profoundly important part of what it means to live out our Christian faith. However, the core message of Christianity — the gospel— is that Jesus died for our sins, was buried and resurrected, and thereby reconciled us to God. This is the message that will truly bring free-dom

Many Progressive Christians today find the concept of God willing His Son to die on the cross to be embarrassing or even appalling. Sometimes referred to as “ cosmic child abuse,” the idea of blood atonement is deemphasized or denied altogether,

with social justice

and good works enthroned in its place.”

It just seems that a church sign set out to advertise the message of a doctrinallysound congregation should not have “Remember the Alamo” on it. Nor, “Celebrate the Little Big Horn,” for those who can recall what happened at those two places in history.

Neither should it be a watered-down message or one like, “Festivus for the Rest of Us,” during the holidays.

It appeared to my wife and I that this Arkansas town needed some work by the locals.

So that, days later — when my Arkansas Representative sent me an e-mail from his office, informing me that he was intending to make an investment of state money in that town, I offered this word of advice back to him: “Maybe you better drive there and take a good look around, first, Representative. You might have a

think about it.”

Robert L. Hall is a resident of Marion and has a Bachelor’s Degree in music from the University of Memphis and a Master’s Degree from Florida State University.

He is the pianist for Avondale Baptist Church and a writer of fiction on Amazon eBooks.

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