News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, May 17, 2018
Rob McCall honored as an American who tells the truth

Portrait

Rob McCall stands beside his portrait, painted by Brooksville artist Rob Shetterly for his Americans Who Tell the Truth series, on May 11 at the Blue Hill Public Library.

Photo by Anne Berleant Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Anne Berleant

Rob McCall’s portrait for the Americans Who Tell the Truth series was unveiled on May 11, but first he had some words of advice for the standing-room-only crowd at the Blue Hill Library: “Take a deep breath…Don’t forget to breathe out.”

A minister at the First Congregational Church of Blue Hill for 28 years before his 2014 retirement, McCall continues to bring the natural world to life in his Awanadjo Almanack, a regular column in The Weekly Packet and spoken on the radio for the last 25 years.

“Rob is a truth-teller over the airwaves,” said Matt Murphy, general manager at WERU, which airs the Almanack each week.

His portrait is the 230th one painted by Brooksville resident Rob Shetterly, joining Americans who the artist feels “courageously address issues of social, environmental and economic fairness” in a gallery that includes Walt Whitman, Malcolm X, Sherry Mitchell, Abraham Lincoln, Dorothea Lange and Chelsea Manning, each inscribed with the subject’s own words.

“He is acute in his observations, he spiritualizes everything,” Shetterly said in his introduction. “That is the relationship we so desperately need and the most subversive to the way the world is today.”

Chrissy Allen, Outreach and Development Director for Blue Hill Heritage Trust, also shared some thoughts on a “dear and longtime” family friend who had performed her wedding ceremony in the Blue Hill church. “Rob has helped connect countless people in the community,” she said. “[He] defends his beliefs in a way that fosters conversation, not argument.”

WERU, BHHT and the Blue Hill Library co-sponsored the event.

When called upon to speak, McCall infused humility and humor into his words, while likening himself to those minor saints “stuck out in little villages in the hillside.” He also played guitar and sang with his wife Becky. He spoke of being honored, and also “dumbfounded, flabbergasted and embarrassed” in being included in the portrait series.

He led the audience in creating a thunderstorm, using drumming feet, snapping fingers and whistles; he supplied the frog sounds.

“We live in a poetic, analog universe rather than a literal, digital universe,” he said. “Open your door and you see the truth.”

Inscribed on Rob McCall’s portrait

I don’t care what you believe, frankly. I don’t care if you believe that Christ was actually bodily resurrected from the condition of being clinically dead, or if you believe it’s all a silly myth. I don’t care what you believe. I care what you love. If you love the Creator and the creatures and your neighbor and yourself and your family and your enemy and the Earth and the Great Mystery, then what in the world do you need beliefs for? And if you don’t love these what earthly good will beliefs do yo anyway?

Rob McCall

Artist Rob Shetterly introduces Rob McCall on May 11 at the Blue Hill Public Library for the unveiling of his portrait in the Americans Who Tell the Truth series.

Photo by Anne Berleant
Portrait

Rob McCall stands beside his portrait, painted by Brooksville artist Rob Shetterly for his Americans Who Tell the Truth series, on May 11 at the Blue Hill Public Library.

Photo by Anne Berleant