Several years ago (2003, if you want to be technical) my three sisters, first cousins and extended family (including me) gathered for a family reunion in Beaufort, N.C., over a Fourth of July.
On July 3, I was having breakfast or lunch with one of my sisters and was reading the local newspaper. I spotted an item about a Fourth of July parade. It included the name of the organizer and her phone number in case anyone wanted to participate.
"Let's join the parade," I said.
I called the organizer and she was happy to have all of us marching, so we all made "KC (Hearts) Beaufort," "Denver (Hearts) Beaufort," "Berkeley (Hearts) Beaufort" and other signs indicating the places from which we hailed. (You can see some of those signs in the top photo as we posed before the parade. I'm the one holding the American flag.)
And the next morning we lined up and marched. We did what Americans seem to do best: we threw a party in the streets and called it a parade.
I was thinking about that as this Fourth weekend approached and as I was wandering around the Internet connecting "faith" and the Fourth.
What do you think I turned up? A Fourth of July parade scheduled for, of all places, Faith, N.C. Oh, to be there this year. (The graphic here today is the logo for that event.) How did Faith get to be called Faith? Well, the city's website gives an answer that needs some editing work: "The towns (sic) name 'Faith' came after a Quarry was opened to extract the Granite Rock the area was know (sic) for and its operator John Thomas Wyatt who lacked experience in the business proceeded ahead on Faith." (Also some weird capitalization and lack of punctuation going on there.)
And what sort of place is Faith, N.C.? I don't know, but here's what the website says: "The town has held strong to its Christian values and beliefs having three churches with members from the surrounding communities."
So it's not clear to me how welcome non-Christians might be there, but I'm betting that maybe southern hospitality would win the day, especially in the awkward, painful days after the recent shootings in Charleston in neighboring South Carolina.
If you ever get to Faith, let me know what you find. I'm guessing you can get there by going through Chapel Hill, Hope Mills, Providence, Creedmoor, Saint Pauls or even Trinity, all good North Carolina towns. But if I were you, on my way to Faith I'd avoid Mocksville.
* * *
BACK TO WHERE IT BEGAN FOR POPE
Pope Francis on Sunday heads to his native South America for a seven-day visit. What do you need to know about this trip? This Pew Research Center piece has you covered. Safe travels, Your Pontiffness.