Deleting Bothwell

Many folks in Asheville have long memories and remember the backing that your paper got from Julian Price when it was supposed to become the standard bearer for investigative reporting and environmental coverage, a niche sadly empty then and, apparently, again in the 21st century.

With all the horrors out of Washington, for the Xpress to fire Bothwell—for whatever reason outside of treason to the USA—is, frankly, a puzzle, a wonderment and notoriously bad judgment. The ghost of Julian Price must be twisting in his grave like the lemon peel in a bad martini.

— Peter Loewer
Asheville

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2 thoughts on “Deleting Bothwell

  1. Marsha V. Hammond, PhD, Clinical Licensed Psychologist, Asheville, NC
    e mail: hammondmv@netzero.com
    cell: 404 964 5338

    November 5, 2007

    RE: comment upon lack of disclosure of orientation as pertaining to review of Billy Graham biographies, as written by Dr. Dowland http://www.mountainx.com/news/2007/101007graham/

    Dear Dr. Dowland:

    I read w/ interest your review on two recent books on Billy Graham as featured in MtnX. I see that the editors of the MtnX, Publisher Jeff Fobes and Managing Editor Jon Elliston, have placed this ‘disclaimer’ as associated with that review. I do not know if this was in the print version. It is alongside the online version of your review on the books. Most pointedly, as per your review, it appears that you took significant issue w/ Mr. Bothwell’s rendering of Mr. Graham as war-mongering rather than piously Christian.

    ***************************

    “Editor’s note: Doing it by the book
    Montreat, N.C.’s most famous resident ranks among the most widely known religious leaders worldwide. For more than six decades, the Rev. Billy Graham‘s evangelical mission has touched the lives of untold millions around the globe.

    Two new Graham biographies once again shine the spotlight on this most public of public figures. Given Xpress‘ local-news mission, covering them seemed a natural—except that the author of one of those volumes, Cecil Bothwell, is also a staff reporter here. Although the book is an independent project that has no connection with Mountain Xpress, its author’s status raised some challenging questions about where the boundary lies between reporting the news and promoting one of our own.

    Wanting to be fair to both Bothwell and our readers, we decided to bring in an outside expert who could knowledgeably review both books—and let the chips fall where they may. Seth Dowland, who holds a doctorate in American religious history from Duke University and teaches in the school’s writing program, seemed a good fit. Here’s his take on two attempts to characterize the political life of one of Western North Carolina’s most influential residents. ” (end of MtnX Press disclaimer)
    ******************************************
    And Dr. Dowland, in terms of attempting to outline your underlying orientation which the MountainX editors did not reveal, it appears that your dissertation was associated with this topic: “Defending Manhood: Gender, Social Order, and the Rise of the Christian Right in the South, 1965-1995” Seth Dowland, Duke, 2007

    Additionally, I notice that you are posting at evangelical website:

    ****************************
    “Seth Dowland said…
    John – I enjoyed the post and have enjoyed your series on the Christian right’s view of history. And I agree – it doesn’t seem that evangelical laypeople are reading Holmes, Meacham, Noll, Marsden, et al. If we as historians are really concerned about this, I think the answer isn’t writing more monographs but thinking about new ways to reach the audiences we want to influence. Blogs like this one may be a starting point (though I wonder how many non-academics read here). Speaking in churches or working on curriculum used in churches may be another way to influence Christians’ understanding of American history. I recently saw a Sunday School curriculum with the proposed title, “The Miracle of America: One Nation under God.” With a title like that, how could the Christian right’s view of history *not* hold sway? I wonder if the groups who were using such materials would have any interest in curriculum that took a more circumspect approach to finding God’s role in American history.”
    http://usreligion.blogspot.com/2007/09/john-fea-staying-power-of-christian.html

    ****************************
    And, I notice that you are being sponsored by this organization:
    http://www.theologicalhorizons.org/documents/horizonsFINAL.pdf
    “Your Partnership: Expanding Our Horizons
    Your financial support furthers Theological Horizons’ unique and critical mission: to proclaim God’s truth at the heart of secular culture. We are raising up a new generation to
    speak and live powerfully in every realm of society.
    A New Generation
    “Spring 2006 finds me facing my first college reunion, wondering how five years have passed since I left Charlottesville. During that time I have been studying for a Ph.D. degree in American Religious History at Duke University. I am working on a dissertation examining the religious and political activities of conservative Christians in the South since the Civil Rights movement. I hope to finish in Spring 2007 and to find a job as a professor. I am thrilled to see light at the end of the graduate school tunnel, but should it mean I have
    to leave North Carolina, it will be somewhat bittersweet.
    My time in Durham has been wonderful. I married my wife Melissa in 2003, and she enjoys her job as a curator at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.We have a wonderful church home at Blacknall Presbyterian Church, where we work in the high school ministry. And we have made many close friends in Durham. So while leaving Charlottesville was difficult, it is a thrill to look back on the many blessings I have enjoyed since graduation.”
    – Seth Dowland (UVa, 2002)
    ****************

    I did a bit of research on, obtained online, and assumably attributableto you, as related to your philosopohical orientation, training, and area of expertise. As a scholar, Dr. Dowland, it would seem to me appropriate that you state and make clear your underlying assumptions and orientation associated with a review. As you have recently defended your dissertation you understand that. In the professional world, this is what physicians do when they present findings from research. Ditto journalists, psychologists, etc.

    I’m not quite sure who to pin the ‘j’accuse’ note on here; I only know that the editors as well as yourself appear to have duped the reading public in terms of the raking over the coals of Bothwell’s book on Graham, w/o any indication of your orientation.. As an eye-brow raising summary statement which was part of the review, you stated this: “Presidents loved Graham because he seemed utterly committed to the saving of souls.” Really, Dr. Dowland? That belies a lack of scholarly critical thinking. You cannot possibly think that decades of American presidents were so earnest about the saving of souls.

    You’re from eastern NC or we would know your name and have been able to guide ourselves,the readers, knowing something about your orientation. .

    I myself was a minister’s child within the Baptist church. I would not trivialize that with some inane statement like, “I recovered.” I would propose that dishonesty within the ranks of the sanctified does you a disservice and it is misleading to the public. Neither does it meet the criteria associated with ‘scholarly.’

    I am a fervent believer in the separation of church and state and statements associated with you online indicate you are 180 degrees in the other direction. To overview a very hockneyed set of statements: the founding fathers intended that. That is basically where I am coming from pertaining to this matter.

    I understand that this is simply a review within a secular paper and therefore I believe that problem w/ not stating the underlying assumptions is associated with the MountainXPress editors.

    This letter is a statement about the apparent lack of honesty of the editors of the MountainX Press in Asheville, NC—-and indeed their disclaimer is misleading in that they appear to be saying something but in fact, they are saying nothing at all about your orientation as a fundamentalist Christian. I assume this from your posts, the Graham review, and the online blogging you have done which is easily available.

    Why does any of this matter? Because a very good reporter, Cecil Bothwell, the author of one of the books that you reviewed, was fired from his job of many years within a month of your clandestine review. I am not assigning that matter to you. Rather, I am attempting to outline how surreptitious statements can be made to the public e.g., your review, and how a state of unwitting acceptance occurs. Dear me: poor Billy Graham: Mr. Bothwell did so do him a dis-service according to this reviewer. Your review was obviously skewed in that direction and the editors obviously did not inform the public about your orientation which I presume was revealed to the editors by yourself.

    I realize I am in the muck of ‘well, this wasn’t a scholarly journal’ but I am dismayed that you have an association with Duke and that you did not reveal your philosophical orientation pertaining to this public,non-peer reviewed article. Even if the editors had been forthright, which they were not in their description of ‘who’s doing the review’, you yourself did not address the issue to the public.

    So, we have a reporter who was clear and honest about his assumptions and monetary support to the tune of even the amount as pertaining to Ms. Lite who is running for city council;the reporter, but a reporter who to my mind was a victim of a hit and run by the editors of the MtnX, whom appear to have colluded, in some unwitting or witting manner, with the reviewer who hid his fundamentalism in order to gain some ground about the subject matter. Even if the editors were advised about your orientation as pertaining to your area of study, Dr. Dowland, you did not advise your reading audience about that matter as you moved through your review which is your area of expertise.

    When I write publicly, and as associated with my own desire to act ethically (which is also demanded by my profession) I state that I am a psychologist and the statements I put forward create in no uncertain terms what my orientation or stance is on a matter. I have consulted with the NC licensing board which attends to these matters, and my public statements, even though linked to that of ‘psychologist’ are not problematic.

    Scholarly or journalistic writing demands the disclosure of one’s preconceived notions. Your review did not do that—-either as associated with the desire of the editors and/ or your own writing. .

    I have nothing to gain or lose here. I have no vested interest in any of this. I only know that it makes my skin crawl to realize hidden agendas have been at play and that people simply walked by whistling. Pass this e mail to anyone you like. I intend to submit a version to MtnX and so let’s see just how open the editors are to that

    Sincerely,

    Marsha V. Hammond, PhD

    cc: Duke/ UNC Religious studies faculty; Cecil Bothwell; MtnX editors

    **********************************

    “The Miracle of America: One Nation under God.” With a title like that, how could the Christian right’s view of history *not* hold sway?” Seth Dowland

    http://usreligion.blogspot.com/2007/09/john-fea-staying-power-of-christian.html

  2. I’m not quite sure who to pin the ‘j’accuse’ note on here; I only know that the editors as well as yourself appear to have duped the reading public in terms of the raking over the coals of Bothwell’s book on Graham, w/o any indication of your orientation.. As an eye-brow raising summary statement which was part of the review, you stated this: “Presidents loved Graham because he seemed utterly committed to the saving of souls.” Really, Dr. Dowland? That belies a lack of scholarly critical thinking. You cannot possibly think that decades of American presidents were so earnest about the saving of souls.

    You’re from eastern NC or we would know your name and have been able to guide ourselves,the readers, knowing something about your orientation. .

    I myself was a minister’s child within the Baptist church. I would not trivialize that with some inane statement like, “I recovered.” I would propose that dishonesty within the ranks of the sanctified does you a disservice and it is misleading to the public. Neither does it meet the criteria associated with ‘scholarly.’

    I am a fervent believer in the separation of church and state and statements associated with you online indicate you are 180 degrees in the other direction. To overview a very hockneyed set of statements: the founding fathers intended that. That is basically where I am coming from pertaining to this matter.

    I understand that this is simply a review within a secular paper and therefore I believe that problem w/ not stating the underlying assumptions is associated with the MountainXPress editors.

    This letter is a statement about the apparent lack of honesty of the editors of the MountainX Press in Asheville, NC—-and indeed their disclaimer is misleading in that they appear to be saying something but in fact, they are saying nothing at all about your orientation as a fundamentalist Christian. I assume this from your posts, the Graham review, and the online blogging you have done which is easily available.

    Why does any of this matter? Because a very good reporter, Cecil Bothwell, the author of one of the books that you reviewed, was fired from his job of many years within a month of your clandestine review. I am not assigning that matter to you. Rather, I am attempting to outline how surreptitious statements can be made to the public e.g., your review, and how a state of unwitting acceptance occurs. Dear me: poor Billy Graham: Mr. Bothwell did so do him a dis-service according to this reviewer. Your review was obviously skewed in that direction and the editors obviously did not inform the public about your orientation which I presume was revealed to the editors by yourself.

    I realize I am in the muck of ‘well, this wasn’t a scholarly journal’ but I am dismayed that you have an association with Duke and that you did not reveal your philosophical orientation pertaining to this public,non-peer reviewed article. Even if the editors had been forthright, which they were not in their description of ‘who’s doing the review’, you yourself did not address the issue to the public.

    So, we have a reporter who was clear and honest about his assumptions and monetary support to the tune of even the amount as pertaining to Ms. Lite who is running for city council;the reporter, but a reporter who to my mind was a victim of a hit and run by the editors of the MtnX, whom appear to have colluded, in some unwitting or witting manner, with the reviewer who hid his fundamentalism in order to gain some ground about the subject matter. Even if the editors were advised about your orientation as pertaining to your area of study, Dr. Dowland, you did not advise your reading audience about that matter as you moved through your review which is your area of expertise.

    When I write publicly, and as associated with my own desire to act ethically (which is also demanded by my profession) I state that I am a psychologist and the statements I put forward create in no uncertain terms what my orientation or stance is on a matter. I have consulted with the NC licensing board which attends to these matters, and my public statements, even though linked to that of ‘psychologist’ are not problematic.

    Scholarly or journalistic writing demands the disclosure of one’s preconceived notions. Your review did not do that—-either as associated with the desire of the editors and/ or your own writing. .

    I have nothing to gain or lose here. I have no vested interest in any of this. I only know that it makes my skin crawl to realize hidden agendas have been at play and that people simply walked by whistling. Pass this e mail to anyone you like. I intend to submit a version to MtnX and so let’s see just how open the editors are to that

    Sincerely,

    Marsha V. Hammond, PhD

    cc: Duke/ UNC Religious studies faculty; Cecil Bothwell; MtnX editors

    **********************************

    “The Miracle of America: One Nation under God.” With a title like that, how could the Christian right’s view of history *not* hold sway?” Seth Dowland

    http://usreligion.blogspot.com/2007/09/john-fea-staying-power-of-christian.html

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