Remus - Preaching That is Preaching
PREACHING THAT IS PREACHING, AND UNCLE REMUS'S COMMENTS ON IT

IN A LITTLE town not far from Atlanta there has been a controversy going on between the Methodists and the Baptists. It has been a hot affair from beginning to end, and, as is usual in such cases, the bad feeling developed has spread for miles around among those who believe that a human creed is more important than religion itself; and this feeling has ex tended to the negroes, though the bitterness is somewhat mitigated by the good humor and the accommodating nature of the negro character.

An echo of this controversy was heard one Sunday morning recently, in the kitchen of the lady to whose family Uncle Remus used to belong.

It was participated in by the old man, Chloe, the cook, and Aunt Mimy, a colored lady who had once reigned in Chloe's place, and who was secretly anxious to get back again. Uncle Remus was sitting near the stove, his elbows on his knees and his hand spread out to catch the warmth; Aunt Mimy was sitting in a corner bolt upright, stiff and uncompromising, while Chloe was bustling around preparing dinner.

"Sis Chlory," said Aunt Mimy, "is you gwine ter church dis evenin'?"

"Law, chile ! don't ax me dat," replied Chloe with a sigh. "Time I git thoo wid dish yer dinner, I'll be mighty willin' ter set down an' rest, I 'speck."

"Dat 's so," said Aunt Mimy, sympatheti cally. " I done bin dar myse'f. I know des 'zackly how 't is. When you cook fer white folks, you got ter be on yo' feet all day long, an' you may thank yo' stars ef you ain't on yo' head half de time."

"Dat cert'ny is de trufe," cried Chloe. "Dey ain't nothin' would suit me better dan ter go ter church dis evenin' an' hear um talk 'bout babtizin' an' sprinklin'. De white folks bin swappin' some rank talk 'bout which de bes', Methodis' er de Babtis', an' now I 'speck de colored folks g vine do some quoilin' 'bout it. An' I don't keer if dey does, kaze Brer John Henry 'low dat hit's better ter quoil 'bout de docterin' er de sperrit dan ter git in stignated wid de flesh. He say dem ve'y words, an' he 's a preacher, mon, ef dey ever wuz one. What church does you b'long ter, Sis Mimy?"

"Babtis'!" exclaimed Aunt Mimy, emphati cally. "Brer Zeke Simmons, he 'low I 'm a fightin' Baptis' ef dey ever bin any. I done got de word; I knows what I 'm a-doin'."

"Ah-yi!" exclaimed Uncle Remus with affected enthusiasm, knowing that Chloe was a Methodist.

"Yes, Lord!" Aunt Mimy went on, clos ing her eyes in a self-satisfied way." I bin a-stumblin' 'long a mighty long time. I bin a 'Piscopal Meth'dis', an' I bin a Affikin Meth' dis', an' I bin a Pottistant Meth'dis', an' I bin a Pesberteen. All dat time I wuz oneazy - all dat time I wuz restless in de min'. I laid 'wake nights an' I ain't had no appetite. I wuz dat worried dat I could n't set still. One night I wuz layin' in bed, an' it look like eve'ything cle'r'd up. I said out loud, ' I 'm gwine ter be a Babtis'.' I lay dar, I did, an' I felt des as ca'm ez ca'm could be. I say out loud, 'Is I right?' Sump'n answer back, `Rise, sinner, yo' sins is done forgive!' I lay dar a little while, an' de same sump'n say, ' Go show de word what Jesus give you ! ' Mon. I riz fum dar a-shoutin', an' I bin a-feelin' like shoutin' ever sense."

Uncle Remus shook his head solemnly, but said nothing, and there was a pause.

"Well," said Chloe after awhile, "I tell you how I is - I 'm a born Meth'dis'. Dem what wants ter be babtize kin go git babtize, an' dem what wants ter be sprinkled can git sprinkled. I 'm a sprinkler myse'f; and I ain't los' no sleep on de 'count uv it, an' I ain't gwine ter lose none. I 'm des a plain Meth'dis'. Dem what got so many sins on urn dat dey hatter git souzed under de water had better go splunge right in, an' dey oughtn' ter lose no time needer. Dat 's what."

Uncle Remus, seeing that a fuss was immi nent, straightened up.

"You two niggers hush up ! Miss Sally may be gone ter church, but Mars John ain't, en ef he hear you ad gwine on dat way, he'll jump out'n dat hall do' wid his night-gown on en tarrify you, mon."

"Wuz we talkin' loud?" asked Aunt Mimy.

"Des a-holl'in'," said Uncle Remus indig nantly. "What you all want ter be quoilin' in white folks' kitchen fer? Go out yander in de ol' field en pull ha'r en paw up de yeth, but don't come cuttin' up 'roun' here. What kinder 'ligion you call dat, whar dey scratch en bite en kick en squall? Ef dat de kind you got, all de water in de Atlanta Ocean won't save na'er one un you. I hear Mars John trompin' 'roun' in dar now."

"What we doing man?" exclaimed Aunt Mimy, lowering her voice. "We ain't doin' nothin' but talkin' 'bout preaching. Sis Chlory, ef you think yo"ll go dis evening I'll call back atter you."

"Oh, I speck I'll go," said Chloe. "I'll be wo' out, but Sunday ain't no Sunday wid me, less'n I goes some'rs whar dey 's preachin' an' gwine on. Ef we er gwine, less go whar dey 's sho' nuff preaching."

"Dat 's what I say," Aunt Mimy assented. "Law, honey ! we oughter go 'cross town an' heaz Brer Dave Varner. Some er deze preach ers des gits up in de pullypit dar an' stan's right still an' talks - look like dey ain't got no life in um. Dat ain't de way wid Brer Dave Varner. Gentermens! he des gits up dar an' talks in about ez much wid his han's an' foots ez he do wid his mouf. I tell you de trufe, Brer Dave Varner dunno a blessed thing what he doin'. I done hear him sesso. He work his foots, he work his body, and he hol' his han's des so."

Aunt Mimy had left her chair and was standing out in the floor, in order to give Brother Dave Varner's favorite attitude. Her head was thrown back, there was an ecstatic smile on her face, and her hands were clasped together in the air. Uncle Remus looked at her curiously.

"Den," Aunt Mimy continued, "he work his arms an' swing his body dis away," - suit ing the action to the word. "Man, sir! it make me feel right ticklish. Sis Hannah Simpson wuz settin' dar lis'nen at 'im one night, an' she lipt up in de a'r an' holler 'Glory!' an' fell back like she uz dead. Brer Dave, he seed 'er fall, but he ain't stop; he des keep right on, an' Sis Hannah she lay dar intranced, an' when she come back ter life she say she done bin ter glory whar she kin look back an' see de sev'mty an' sev'm creeturs wid fier-balls fer eyes a-grabbin' an' a-pullin' at de po' sinners. 'Ceppin' fer de dus de mo'ners kicked up, I ain't had no better time at no church."

Uncle Remus looked at Aunt Mimy again as she paused for want of breath.

"How you say dat Dave Varner do whiles he preachin'?" the old man asked. Aunt Mimy went through the performance again with characteristic vigor, clasping her hands over her head, swinging her arms, and sway ing her body from side to side. It was an lmpressive pantomime.

"When he do dat away," said Uncle Remus, solemnly, "he a-practicin'. Dat 'zackly what he doin'."

"Practicin' what? " asked Chloe.

"Ain't you got no eyes, 'oman?" asked Uncle Remus scornfully. "Don't yo' sev'm senses tell you what he practicin' fer? When he reach up his han's an' jine um in de air, he 's a-reachin' fer one er deze lank-shank pullets like Miss Sally got here; en when he swing his arms en sway his body, he 's des a-gittin' 'way fum de hen-roos'." Uncle Remus carried his illustration so far that he, himself, went out of the kitchen, shaking his arms and swaying his body.

"Well!" exclaimed Aunt Mimy, with a snort. "Ain't dat too much? An' Brer Dave Varner a preacher, too! I tell you, honey, dat ole Remus is a scan'lous villyun. Deze yer white folks done sp'ilt 'im."

"He sp'iles dem wuss'n dey sp'iles him," said Chloe, angrily, "a-gwine 'roun' here a-Mars'n an' a Miss'n uv um."

"I 'm gwine," said Aunt Mimy. "I ain't gwine ter stay whar he is. Come by, ef you kin, an' come soon. It 's a long ways 'cross town yander."



Links:

  • Directory of scanned stories
  • Preceding story (Exodus)
  • Next story (Advice...)
  • Table of Contents