OPINION: Redneck is in the eye of the beholder

Forgive me if this column seems a little self-absorbed: The occasional critic accuses me of being a redneck, and I’m not sure how to take the allegation.
On the one hand, I am a white male, lifelong Mississippian, who grew up largely (take that any way you like) on a farm.
On the other hand, I’ve pastored a majority-black congregation in the Mississippi Delta.
Pickup driver, yes, but I don’t race four-wheelers, recliners or toilets.
I tote a pocketknife, sometimes listen to talk radio and have a sticker promoting my favorite shooting facility. There’s no chain, however, on my dog, my wallet or my wife.
A thick drawl slows my speech, but I use duct tape only in moderation.
I like cornbread, collards and catfish but also appreciate an occasional eight-courses-with-paired-wines dinner.
My belly has its own ZIP code, but I don’t smoke, dip, chew or drive under the influence, and I curse only when seriously provoked and always with immediate remorse.
I like bluegrass in moderate doses, but Garrison Keillor is more my speed than Larry the Cable Guy.
Saw “Smokey and the Bandit” but relate far better to “Driving Miss Daisy.”
One of my two favorite jokes stars Bubba and Leroy – the other, Rene Descartes.
I own a tractor, a chainsaw and a 12-gauge, but one of my “someday” goals is to share a bottle of Grand Cru Chablis in the vineyard that grew it.
I raise Rhode Island Red hens and Speckled Christmas butterbeans and can singlehandedly turn a purloining whitetail into tenderloin. Less stereotypically, I’m apt to whistle parts of Mozart’s 40th Symphony while doing so.
I’m partial to the Bible, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution and distrust people who say they say what they don’t say, but I weep all the way through “Les Miserables” and its presentation, intentional or not, of the gospel of grace.
Jeff Foxworthy’s “You Might Be a Redneck … If This Is the Biggest Book You’ve Ever Read” isn’t the biggest book I’ve ever read, and a bronze of Rodin’s “The Thinker” props up some of those bigger books.
Any claims of sophistication may not be enough to counteract this damning evidence, though: No matter how I might wish otherwise, the part of my anatomy that connects my shoulders and head, if exposed to Old Sol, still turns a bright crimson.
Oh, well … .

Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 errol.castens@djournal.com. Read his blog at www.NEMS360.com.

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

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