Join us for an evening with journalist John Archibald and Oxonian David Magee for a discussion of John's new book, Shaking the Gates of Hell. Wednesday, March 24 at 5pm CST on Zoom.
Registration required. Click here to RSVP.
On growing up in the American South of the 1960s—an all-American white boy—son of a long line of Methodist preachers, in the midst of the civil rights revolution, and discovering the culpability of silence within the church. By the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and columnist for The Birmingham News.
"My dad was a Methodist preacher and his dad was a Methodist preacher," writes John Archibald. "It goes all the way back on both sides of my family. When I am at my best, I think it comes from that sermon place."
Everything Archibald knows and believes about life is "refracted through the stained glass of the Southern church. It had everything to do with people. And fairness. And compassion."
In Shaking the Gates of Hell, Archibald asks: Can a good person remain silent in the face of discrimination and horror, and still be a good person?
Archibald had seen his father, the Rev. Robert L. Archibald, Jr., the son and grandson of Methodist preachers, as a moral authority, a moderate and a moderating force during the racial turbulence of the '60s, a loving and dependable parent, a forgiving and attentive minister, a man many Alabamians came to see as a saint. But was that enough? Even though Archibald grew up in Alabama in the heart of the civil rights movement, he could recall few words about racial rights or wrongs from his father's pulpit at a time the South seethed, and this began to haunt him.
In this moving and powerful book, Archibald writes of his complex search, and of the conspiracy of silence his father faced in the South, in the Methodist Church and in the greater Christian church. Those who spoke too loudly were punished, or banished, or worse. Archibald's father was warned to guard his words on issues of race to protect his family, and he did. He spoke to his flock in the safety of parable, and trusted in the goodness of others, even when they earned none of it, rising through the ranks of the Methodist Church, and teaching his family lessons in kindness and humanity, and devotion to nature and the Earth.
Archibald writes of this difficult, at times uncomfortable, reckoning with his past in this unadorned, affecting book of growth and evolution.
About the Author:
John Archibald is a journalist for The Birmingham News, where he has been a regular columnist since 2004. In 2018, Archibald was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama.
About the Host:
David Magee is the author of a dozen books and the director of institute advancement at the University of Mississippi—the role he started after helping create and launch The William Magee Center for Wellness Education at the university, named after his late son. David’s memoir Dear William is slated for release in November. David was previously a Vice President at Alabama Media Group, working closely with John Archibald, whom he considers among his most trusted and respected friends.