The Prophet, Johnny Cash

I’ve been watching a documentary about Johnny Cash’s performance at Folsom Prison, and it reminds me what an icon, musical and spiritual, we lost when he died in 2003. The depth of Cash’s Christian faith is beyond dispute, as was his ability to grasp some Biblical truths that evidently have eluded others who take the name of Christ on the public stage. Here he is, defending in song and in an interview, why he wore black:

“We’re doing mighty fine I do suppose
In our streak of lightning cars and fancy clothes
But just so we’re reminded of the ones who are held back
Up front there ought to be a man in black.”

Later, he offered this explanation of his sartorial choices, which he clothed in a demonstrated, lifelong concern for “the least of these,” the ones our Lord spoke about so annoyingly often:

“(I wear black) on behalf of the prisoner who has long paid for his crime, and on behalf of those who have been betrayed by age or drugs. And with the Vietnam War as painful in my mind as it was in most other Americans’, I wore it ‘in mournin’ for the lives that could have been. Apart from the Vietnam War being over, I don’t see much reason to change my position … The old are still neglected, the poor are still poor, the young are still dying before their time, and we’re not making many moves to make things right. There’s still plenty of darkness to carry off.”

There is, and it’s funny how a TV show has led me to praise God for the Light that so illumined the life of this great brother.

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