It’s occurred to me in advanced middle age that I am also something of an unwitting cusper. I’ve lived my entire life in sort of a cusp – in a sort of cultural, political and psychological point of transition – without being fully aware until now of how this has deeply affected my views of life, faith and the passing scene.
For starters, I was born in the cusp of the 1960’s in the northwestern corner of Alabama — culturally and politically speaking, a part of the upper South — though I have spent most of my adult life working as a news and public affairs specialist at a university in the the upper portion of the southern part of the state, which is far more associated with the culture and politics of the Deep South. Even today among some Alabamians, this constitutes a critical distinction.
Adding an extra layer of irony to all of this, I was raised a Republican in northwest Alabama, which, until recently, was one of the most committed Democratic enclaves of Alabama. My strong GOP family connection is not entirely surprising, considering that my family tree is a much Southern unionist as it is Confederate.
Despite this divided heritage, I have always considered myself an Alabamian and a Southerner first and foremost. I’m that rarest of things: a Southern nationalist, albeit one with strong post-Confederate, post-racial convictions. I do harbor hopes that someday the South will rise again, asserting its identity as assertively as Scotland and Catalonia in the present day.
I think that Observer columnist Michael Malice summed up the historical American predicament well: “The real conundrum is why two cultures should attempt to move forward as one unit when they are increasingly diverging in their world views—and never had the same worldview to begin with.”
Yes, I may come off sounding crazy asserting such a statement, but as a rather consistent amateur historian of American and world history, I should point out that stranger things have happened.
Adding the final layer of complexity to this picture, I am a theologically liberal Protestant in a region that remains largely, if not implacably, conservative evangelical. I tend to think of myself as a Red Tory in the Disraeli conservative tradition – a progressive conservative, in other words.
In all honesty, I feel fortunate to have inherited such an eclectic temperament and background, because they have equipped me in middle age with what I consider to be a rather unique perspective, one that I feel compelled to share occasionally with readers.
Have a nice day.