As a young minister, my daily conversations tend to be around the Bible in some form or another. Everyone, and rightly so, expects a minister to talk about Jesus. Still, one could be amiss if a young barber started talking about Jesus, especially sin and forgiveness while clippin’ a man’s hair. It was rather pleasant for a change to hear someone else talking about Jesus and in a little barbershop, no less.

As I sat in that Tennessee barbershop, far away from my Carolina home, I was, for just a moment experiencing the way things should be, peaceful. Young men were talking about Jesus in that little barbershop, and it was all agreeable! No debates, no fussing, no moments of political rage, just men in their 20s, 30s, and 40s talking about their savior; I couldn’t believe it. I’m not sure how common barbershop gospel conversations are in America. Still, I would dare to adventure that they are more common in little pockets of the South than anywhere else in our country.

I spent the rest of the day thinking about my three hours waiting for a haircut. I was reading a book by Rick Bragg, and I was reminded of a sentence he wrote, “The South like chiggers and divinity candy is everlasting. It will always be, though it will not always be as we remember. The South of our childhood rust, peels, and goes away.”[1] Now, Mr. Bragg and I disagree over what the South was and should be, and I often mumble when reading his books, but I love them also, and he is right about the time-changing nature of the South. It does change, it’s not as we remembered it, and it’s heartbreaking, but not everything has to rust and peel away.

I am a minister and walk a line between religion and politics. As a private citizen, I love my native land, the South, particularly my sweet Carolina. Yet, even North Carolina is changing with every new wave of Northern and Midwestern newcomers. It’s no longer the tobacco-rich state that I knew and heard of, instead townhomes are spouting on long forgotten farmlands. It’s defiantly not the state of my grand paw. It is rusting, peeling, and changing, but some things should stay the same, like those Christian barbershops. As a minister, I sincerely hope the South, like everlasting chiggers and divinity candy, will always be the everlasting Bible Belt.

I hope it be a place that welcomes young men to be good and virtuous men. A place where a 30-something father can sit with his little son and talk about Jesus to the barber. A place where a 20-year-old man can talk about how much Jesus has changed his life. A place where folks aren’t on edge, fighting, or protesting but relaxed and peaceful.

The South has so much to offer if folks will look at the good and help to change the bad.


[1] [1] Bragg, Rick. 2015. My Southern Journey. Liberty Street.

Rev. Tar Heel

“Rev. Tar Heel” is a young minister of a small town congregation in his native state of North Carolina.


  • Matt C. says:

    I grew up in NYC, but have now lived in Virginia for over 40 years. I have come to love the South and its people. One thing I’d like to say to you, sir, is that I hope you know and understand Jesus precisely the way the apostle Paul taught him, and the way confederate veteran C.I. Scofield seemed to come to understand the important uniqueness of Paul. See Scofield’s notes on Eph. 3 if you are not already familiar with them.

  • Kenneth Robbins says:

    Rev. Tar Heel, What did you mean with the last sentence of your essay? Can you explain what is and what is bad?

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