Shekinah Glory

White Trash Manifesto

2269802399_bfd9960845-1Name It and Claim It

I will be silent no longer. I will say my piece. I am going to subvert the old charismatic notion from my childhood of naming something that I want and claiming it in the name of Jesus. I am turning it into claiming those things in my life that I thought had no value and reigniting their power for my life. From now on I am going to admit who and what I am, claiming it as a part of me. We have been denigrated, ostracized, kept out of high culture, satirized, excluded from most college history courses and excluded from the political conversation for the most part in our country. We are the proud White trash of America! Yes, I am reclaiming my white trash cultural heritage.

I have lived for over six years amongst the Northeast elites and for 15 years amongst the “educated” Presbyterian class. So, I am sure my revelation is being met with a certain scowl of disapproval. I heard it when I extolled the poetic prowess of Willie Nelson amongst Carol’s parishioners, when a religion professor at Brown hmphed the day I taught a Sunday school class that Jesus would probably ride into Jerusalem today in a souped up Chevy with tinted windows and the disbelief in those who ride along in my Honda Civic while the local country station plays. Some people have even become downright snotty when I explain that my hero growing up was not Clarence Darrow but Williams Jennings Bryan.

Hear my lenten confession and embrace of my cultural heritage. I would still go to a tractor pull, I like to snack on pork rinds (cracklin for all you southerners), I smoke cigars, still say ya’ll, take the a out of the word ‘bout, wear a cowboy hat, prefer jeans to slacks, wear t-shirts with stains, like wide open spaces, love the smell of burning leaves, wipe my hands on my pants, eat too quickly (sometimes with my mouth open), feel more comfortable in a dive, love spitting sunflower seeds, worked a lot of stupid jobs, know what it means to be poor, likes cussing, thinks rendering is the beginning of any good meal, grew up on spam, canned salmon and potted meat, in high school ignored the toilet in the front yard and still wishes he had the Kenny Rogers album he won from the local radio station as a kid.

Where is the festival to my culture that is covered by the Village Voice? The essay books from ethnologists fawning over the people in the stands of a tractor pull? The broadway musical for Hee Haw? The sociological studies of trailer parks? Why do liberals build icons around dead industries like coal, steel and auto when most of my relatives are serving fries at McDonalds and working for Wal-Mart?

That is why I am coming out with a 7-11 Slurpee in one hand and the fish I just gutted in the other. I will laugh too loud, say inappropriate things in mixed company, sound dumb to you, and be prone to awkward silences. Don’t mind, but certainly do not touch my new cheap, straw cowboy hat. Sometime in the near future I will get to the toys strewn amongst the front yard’s weeds.

Still, I will take the richness of lived stories, the simplicity of life, the appreciation of nature and clear, concise forms of communication any day of the week. I will remain embarrassed by the narrow provincialism, violence, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, conformism and nationalistic jingoism that rises from a proud people. Yet, these are the people that I grew up with, my relatives and my family. I will continue to love them and make sure that my elitist Presbyterian church is just as welcoming to them as a 60 year old white lawyer from Georgetown.

Beloved let us love one another, ‘cause love is from God, and everyone who loves is born a God.

photo by skipgoforth


7 Comments so far
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Beauty. Although for the PA white trash it’s all about eating trout and/or killing deer as a “mission trip” for men and where pirogies and sandwiches with french fries on them are both considered “haute cuisine.”

Comment by Drew Tatusko

Sweet! I could really go for the french fries sandwich.

Comment by pastorofdisaster

I yearn for such street cred, but as a vegetarian, it is forever beyond me. Tofu Rinds just aren’t the same, even with the best efforts of modern agribusiness. Sigh.

Comment by David Williams


I don’t know, I think you are on to something. Maybe Tempah rinds.

Comment by pastorofdisaster

Just wondering if you meant to say “Born OF God” or “Born A God”?

Comment by JoAnn Knowles


I’m glad you noticed. That was supposed to be my White Trash paraphrase.

Comment by pastorofdisaster

Bless your heart, Brian. This made my day!

Comment by Nikki Knoll

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