A Delta Bohemian Manifesto

Penned by a compromised Christian, full of lamentation and hope

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” – Paul in his letter to the Corinthian church

Who doesn’t want to leave a sustainable mark before exiting this short ride of a life? How many of us avoid the uncomfortable uncertainty about what is next after we die? How often do we measure our worth according to a crooked stick—the measure of another man or woman? How do we deal with letdowns, failures, and the heartbreaks we cause and receive; and, how do we reconcile all of that with what is next, if there is a next? Heady stuff for sure and often avoided by most of us.

After a certain age and time in life death is contemplated often, yet do we really think deeply enough to actively pursue finding out if there is something we should do before we die to prepare ourselves for what may be next?

In our first-world countries—where the poorest are wealthier amenity-wise than 95% of the world’s population and infinitely more so than royalty just a few short decades ago—we are all eat up with preparing for a short-lived retirement, which often doesn’t come, or includes just a few short years of painful existence as we wait to die. But, how many of us really prepare for the next life, if there is one, and if there is, then how do we make ready?

Do we just roll the dice and hope God—if one exists—will count our earthly deeds worthy of giving us a pretty good afterlife? And, subsequently, what makes us think deeds done down here are important? Where does the often-believed human imperative to treat others well originate?

If we are derived from pond scum, as some believe, and are the undirected product of the sun shining on a freckle long enough to turn it into a thinking, sentient, complex entity with moral exigencies, then where does that imperative originate, if not from someone or something guiding it? And if someone or something started all of this, then is it not important to figure out what that life-originator thinks and/or requires?

The above questions are not designed to make a dog wag his tail, but are seminal questions worthy of rumination, and if they lead to Truth, and possibly eternal life, then they matter.

Why a Delta Bohemian Manifesto? Again, just someone wanting to leave a mark, as indelible as it is and will be.

I have lived many lives in a short amount of time and have been a fringe pilgrim on many extremes, yet the non—behavioral consistent has been my worldview based on my often broken relationship with Jesus Christ and my Judeo-Christian ideology, faith, and yes, relationship with the One I figured who created me, placed me where He did, and Who sustains me even when I dishonor Him, act selfishly and treat others poorly.

Many see evolution as the source of life; I can’t help but look at the marvel in what surrounds me and see a Creator, one who cares enough to make distinctions in a fascinating world that none can fully comprehend. I see His handiwork in all things!

I do believe God is a He, because I believe the biblical scriptures provide enough internal and external evidence to convince me God is who He says He is and He says He is a He! That does not disparage women, as too often in modernity we are led to believe; it just is Who He is.

The entity known as the Delta Bohemian was birthed out of a late-night conversation between my wife Madge and me, one she remembers better than I. The words Delta and Bohemian—as oxymoronic as they likely are redundant—were rumbling around in my head and heart and I wasn’t sure where they came from, but I thought possibly God had placed them in amongst my many convoluted thoughts.

Madge, very responsive in the present to what she believes God wants her to do, decided to create the Delta Bohemian, really to celebrate the constancy and diversity found in the unique region we both were raised in and independently left for years before returning and connecting with one another.

We have never really tried to define what a Delta Bohemian is other than encouraging ourselves and others to be themselves, even when others do not understand the self. For us, though not expressly stated, an important component—maybe even the most important—of what drives the Delta Bohemian is our faith in God’s goodness and a desire to celebrate what he has wrought in this magnificent region: a complex, complicated, yet delightfully simple Brigadoon-like alluvial area where the pastoral, bucolic, agrarian nature of our existence has for generations made black and white, rich and poor, proud and humble, all aware of something beyond and above us, to the point that faith infuses our very fiber. There is a reason the Mississippi Delta is in the Bible Belt.

I have heard more Gospel, broken more bread and had more fellowship in a blues club than I have in many of the churches I have attended over the years. I have felt closer to the God I believe exists and whom I poorly serve while in a cotton field chopping weeds or in a deer stand waiting for morning to break, than I have in European cathedrals.

I do not decry churches or cathedrals, nor want to disparage any religion or any faith or any expression of faith by folks trying to understand what might transcend our feeble, temporal existence.

It is merely an acknowledgment by one sorry example of a Christian who finds God in the simplest of places, often in quiet, unhurried locations where His voice, evidenced by magnificent design—created by Someone able to do what mankind cannot do—created for His pleasure and the pleasure and utilitarian use of His most majestic creation, humans.

We are not theologians, wise folks, or successful as success is defined. The Delta Bohemian is/are just two married folks thankful to have found each other after some long, hard rides and brought back to where we started with a longing to share our thankfulness to God and others by celebrating in the present what we believe God wants us to focus on.

One would be hard-pressed to find a more fallen character than I: wounded, scarred, often arrogant, always insecure, sometimes manic, sometimes depressed, wormlike, explosive, temperamental, passive/aggressive, and too often an Eddie Haskell/Tom Sawyer huckster trying to keep his thin-thread of sanity intact.

However, I want to love others, as I believe God instructs me to do; I want to focus on what matters to Him, and I want to be the person I believe he uniquely deigned for me to be, but I always seem to get in the way.

The Delta Bohemian believes God is pointing at the Mississippi Delta, and it ain’ necessarily because we are so grand. This magical piece of flatland and its people draw folks from all over the world and it’s not solely for the “blues,” a fine byproduct of the terroir and fecundity of this Arcadian region with long-held faith in the “One who brung us!”

We are not sure why we think God is pointing at the Mississippi Delta, but God is like that, and we are thankful to be blessed by so many lives who trek into this storied land for the blues, back for the people, and for reasons they aren’t really sure about. But come they do.

God is not hard to find, one just has to look, and if the conundrum of “what’s next” gets you to thinking, or if life grinds on you, or even before then, like right now, talk to God about it; He knows and He promises He ain’ far off… CB

A Delta Bohemian Manifesto by Chilly Billy Howell

A Delta Bohemian Manifesto by Chilly Billy Howell


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Comments

  1. Thank you for this. For whatever reason, I am awake and at my computer at 2:43 am — unable to sleep just now and seeking some reason for all that happened over the weekend and on a phone call-filled Monday, projecting myself into tomorrow/today and preparing for the Tuesday obligations and opportunities. Your Manifesto speaks to me on SO many levels: Christian, Mississippian, seeker. . . and every sentence brings to mind various family and friends from Los Angeles to New York. I am grateful for your words, and I shall share with attribution for others to also be enlightened and inspired. Thank you. God bless.

  2. Anne Burris says:

    Excellent Billy and Madge. Thanks. ❤️❤️❤️

  3. Robert Garvin says:

    Thanks Billy for that Manifesto. Truly a blessing this morning. It really speaks to my heart. Yes the Mississippi Delta is such a special place. The first time Vicky and I traveled there about 3 years now something just grabbed our very beings. And now that we have met such wonderful friends like you and Madge it is even more special. Thanks for the peace and love that you and Madge just glow with. Hope to see ya’ll soon. Robert and Vicky

  4. Your best piece ever. Very well written and heartfelt

  5. Amen brother!

  6. Robert, we are so glad to know you and Vicky! Your comments about the Delta Bohemian Manifesto are affirming and I am thankful it meant something to you.

    Y’all are forever a part of Clarksdale now, you know!!

  7. Anne, thank you for reading Billy’s Manifesto and for commenting! 😊🙏

  8. God bless you, NancyKay, for this feedback!! 🙏 How wonderful that Billy’s Manifesto came into your life at a time when you were open and ready and needy for it.

    Your words truly encourage me/us to keep writing and sharing!

    Thank you too for being eager to share this writing with others. Billy broaches profound truths and issues we all need to consider and pray about.

    I thank God for you, NancyKay, and pray we meet some day.

  9. Thank you for reading and commenting, Mark. I am blessed every single time I hear you preach about God’s word. I treasure our friendship and thank God he brought us into each other’s lives. Much love! 🙏💛

  10. Amy, I agree with you! Billy’s best! God is all over this! The morning he wrote it at home will forever be in my memory! He just let the words flow out of him.

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