The Gospel and Johnny Cash
I’ve always enjoyed country-western music, though I’ve not been fanatic about it. I have deep memories of sitting in the Rogers, TX bar with my grandpa (I would have been 6 or so), sitting on a barstool cracking nuts whilst he slaked his thirst, and listening to the jukebox playing Hank Williams and Patsy Cline. So even when I was a teenager in the 60’s, I still listened to some c/w stuff…and Johnny Cash.
Last Sunday would have been Cash’s 80th birthday, and Russell Moore has a fine blog post to mark the event (click here). Of course, Moore is not just celebrating c/w music, or a pop icon. He’s making the connection between Cash and the gospel. I think the post is well worth a read, whether you like Cash or not. Here’s one punchy quote:
The face of Johnny Cash reminded this generation that he has tasted everything the youth cultures of multiple decades have to offer—and found there a way that leads to death. In a culture that idolizes the hormonal surges of youth, Cash reminds the young of what pop culture doesn’t want them to know: “It is appointed to man once to die, and after this the judgment.” His creviced face and blurring eyes remind them that there is not enough Botox in all of Hollywood to revive a corpse.
Moore is a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and regularly posts about popular culture, particularly about pop music. Some of his takes may surprise you; they will make you think beyond a superficial approval or disapproval of popular culture.
One of Cash’s last albums is American IV: The Man Comes Around. It’s a musical example of what Moore’s talking about, and well worth the listen. You can buy it (or listen to samples) from Amazon here.