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Dadburn 'em. " Offering himself to the Church of Christ the next Sunday, he was asked only one simple question: whether or not he believed Jesus Christ to be the Son of the Living God. Uncle Josh believed, and from that day, he kept the faith and justified it by fighting the Baptists. If the Baptists had been Uncle Josh's only responsibility, he might have prayed out his problem in bed. But the Baptists were just a part of his burden. "Talk to me, Lord," Uncle Josh implored, turning his eyes toward heaven.

And right after sundown," went on Judson Barnes, "when it wuz jist beginning to get dark, the mammy of one a-them boys come a-crawlin' along the fence toward the tree where her son wuz a-hangin'. They caught her! She kept sayin' that she wuz jest a-comin' back fer her snuff-box, but that Page 29 didn't keep 'em from puttin' a hike on her jest like the rest. "Years before that, we had a nigger burnt to death here at Spring Creek. And 'fore that, we had one shot full of bullets and drug up and down the Spring Creek roads.

Gibson captured local idiom and culture so accurately that explicit identification of setting was unnecessary. Communities throughout Texas were outraged by Joshua Beene and God, some allegedly clamoring for the book to be burned. Twenty-one years earlier another novel by a Texas woman, The Wind (1925) by Dorothy Scarborough, had raised similar ire for its accurate and unsentimental depiction of the rigors of pioneer life on the West Texas ranching frontier. Although it was not written by a Texan, Edna Ferber's Giant (1952) evoked a similar public outcry that died down only after the filming of the movie version in and around Marfa starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean.

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