Yesterday would have been his eighty-second birthday. I would not have known this had it not featured on the WONDERFUL Canadian Public Radio show, 'As It Happens'. It turns out that a store keeper, somewhere In Canada, is serving baloney sandwiches and cake iced with black icing to raise money for the local Food Bank. My writer's seventh sense kicked in and I followed the conversation closely. It turns out that Johnny Cash always wore black in recognition of the suffering of humanity, and his belief in Jesus.
I then reigned-in my critical faculties and listened to the 'Man In Black' song. I was deeply, deeply moved. Not by the Country and Western dum-de-dum, but by the powerful spirituality and gentle, authentic activism in evidence in Johnny's lyrics.
I have a Christian faith, of sorts, but am very wary of speaking about Jesus, because I can't bear to associate myself with groups who use the Name to propagate hate crimes. I do not wish to be counted with these people, so I have left the floor.
Case in point: I am horrified by the growing anti-Gay persecution in Africa, encouraged and sponsored, I have learned, by ultra-conservative Western 'Christian' groups who have the sick, sick, idea that the Prince of Peace would be served by this. This is getting close to my heart. Time to take a step back.
Just in case you are under any illusion that I am in any way better than the believers who are out to kill gay people, I will confess that I am guilty of a being a gossip. There are other things I'm guilty of, but gossiping is more likely to be a mortal sin that you relate to than some of my more colourful backslides.
The thing is, gossiping appears in St Paul's list of things you'd better not do, right alongside fornication. Of any kind. So why, I wonder do we not have African states, spurred on by evangelical whackos, legislating prison and execution for gossips?
The Christ, whom Johnny Cash had more than a passing knowledge of, knew how easily we, the people, will fasten on to what we perceive to be other people's failings, rather than deal with our own. As if executing someone else, will make it easier to deal with the unsettling state of our own consciences. His solution, "Love one another. As I have loved you." WE are the ones to bare our backs to whips for the sake of the dignity of others, and then be hung out to dry. WE have no mandate to do THIS to anyone else. How could such an obvious intent be so horribly twisted?
Time to draw this to a close. I doubt that I shall take to wearing black, but I have gained a deep respect for the man who did.