This is an excerpt of John Fountain’s spoken word piece delivered at his grandfather’s funeral services on March 17.

Dr. King once asked, “Where do we go from here: chaos or community?”

I ask, “Where do we go from here: chaos or family?”

Truth: All dressed up in our Sunday best and pure holy whites. But beneath the veneer our hearts still ain’t right. So much envy in our green eyes. So much hate in our black souls. Tongues like piercing deadly arrows. Hearts as dark as coal.

So sanctified. But so filled up with arrogance and pride. Mean as a junkyard dog. Slithery as a snake. Behind all the sanctimonious fog the “holiness” is fake…

But the time for pleasing ourselves will soon be at an end. Sitting in empty churches begging for folk to come in.

OPINION

Acting like we got a monopoly on God. Except it’s so easy to see through the glass façade: speaking in holy hyperbole. Giving money so all can see. Patting ourselves on the back but backbiting and hatin’ on we. Hatin’ on us.

It makes me so sick that I could cuss. But I won’t…

Stiff-necked dysfunction unexposed. Haughty-spirit ugly like crooked toes. Nothing but the devil. Now you’ve been exposed. And you can’t have our family!

Family is love. Family is kind. Family is functional. Family is entwined by ties that bind. By gentleness and blessing. By meekness and intercession.

She does not seek her own but the wellness of each member. She is patient and gentle. So let us now remember:

How we used to be. How we prayed together. Cried together. Laughed together. Before jealousy. How we ate together. Fought together. Sought together happiness together through sun times and fun times and stormy weather. Or else, we will die together — our family destroyed forever.

John Fountain interviewing his grandfather George Hagler Jan. 2017, at the True Vine Church of God in Bellwood, which Hagler founded in 1973. | Photo provided by John Fountain

Unless we choose once again to rise together — driven and bound together by the only thing that really matters forever: this institution established by God, even before the church. This thing that can wreak so much pain and caustic hurt. Or else heal and mend and make whole again.

And rise like a mighty oak that withstands the winds of time and circumstance. Of lies and bitterness and Satan’s plan to sift us. To adrift us. To steal us. To kill us.

That one thing — one thing: family.

So we have but one question before us as our matriarch and patriarch now sleep. Where do we go from here: chaos or family?

I choose family. I choose you and me. And generations past. And generations to come. I choose to put away hurt and meanness. And murder by tongue.

I choose to lift and love. Uplift and uphold. I choose to kiss and embrace. And to stand and oppose all that comes against us. Against anything that threatens the peaceful existence of us. Because all we got, all we’ve ever had, and all we’ll ever have is us.

And our future and posterity have never depended upon the one with the church key but on how we treat each other. On how I love you and how you love me.

For long before True Vine Church, we were family. Not a building of bricks and mortar, but flesh and blood and heart and soul. And never enemies.

And yet, we stand today at the crossroads between our past and our future — our collective destiny to be determined not by social media or a computer. Or a generation that left us severed and wounded. But by whether we choose to do better, to love like we used to…

Before we acted all “saved” in our sanctimonious haze. Before our tears watered the ground at our grandparents’ graves.

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