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The True Gospel Preached Here

The True Gospel Preached Here

Foreword by Tom Rankin
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 96
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  • Book Info
    The True Gospel Preached Here
    Book Description:

    Bruce West's color photographs document the spiritual and creative work of a self-proclaimed preacher, artist, architect, the Reverend H. D. Dennis, and his wife, Margaret, in Vicksburg, Mississippi. This book explores the fantastic world of the elderly couple who devoted more than twenty years of their lives to converting Margaret's Grocery store into a one-of-a-kind nondenominational church. Guided by visions from God, their elaborate transformation of Margaret's Grocery involved the construction of several towers, the creation of the Ark of the Covenant containing tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments, and new religious iconography. A sign at the entrance announced: "Welcome Jews and Gentile This Church Open 24 Hours a Day." Another sign promised: "The True Gospel Preached Here." Bands of high-gloss red, white, blue, green, yellow, and pink paint covered the towers and exterior. Religious artifacts, Mardi Gras beads, plastic flowers, hubcaps, and flashing Christmas lights encrusted the interior walls and ceilings and an old school bus. The Reverend used his church as a roadside attraction to lure seekers so that he could deliver fiery sermons and orations about the need to "practice living perfectly" and the ceaseless pursuit of spiritual wisdom.

    The product of twenty years of labor and multiple site visits, West's photographs are both intimate and transparent, tenderly revealing the Reverend and Margaret's love of God and for one another, their commitment to their work, and their shared transformation while aging together. The images offer unique insights into the role of spirituality in southern folk art and creativity and the joys and demands of an ascetic and inspired life.

    eISBN: 978-1-62674-010-5
    Subjects: Art & Art History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
    (pp. vii-xv)
    Tom Rankin

    The right sentiments displayed on a hand-painted sign next to a curious building will stop a driver on any road. If not stop, at least make you wish you’d stopped. Driving south on Highway 61 in 1989 toward Vicksburg I turned right onto Business Route 61 wanting to hug as close to the river and the levee as possible as I eased into Vicksburg. Like anyone driving that road in the late 1980s, I went from simply looking at the landscape on the outskirts of Vicksburg to a palpable awe at what I was seeing, leading me to slow and...

    (pp. xvi-xxx)
    Bruce West

    It is bright, hot, and steamy, even in the early morning hours. Kudzu covers the trees; everything seems thick and green. I pull off Business Route 61 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and stand in front of a small one-story building that is elaborately decorated. There is an archway several feet in front of the main door, and there are towers, ten or twelve of them, some more than three stories tall, some still under construction. The building and towers are painted in bands of high-gloss red, white, blue, and green. One sign announces that this is Margaret’s Grocery, the Home of...

  4. The True Gospel Preached Here [Photographs]
    (pp. 1-63)
    (pp. 64-65)
    (pp. 66-66)