All posts tagged “Johnny Cash

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Repaso: February 28, 2014

+ Johnny Cash would have been 82 on Wednesday. It’s as good a time as any to ask, as Russell Moore does here, “Why would twenty-something hedonists revere an old Baptist country singer from Arkansas?”


+ It’s always nice when influential people prove that genuine friendship is possible between those on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. Cornel West, a progressive public intellectual who belongs to the Democratic Socialists of America, and Robert George, who has been called “this country’s most influential conservative Christian thinker,” recently sat down at Swarthmore College for a conversation about “what it means for intellectuals to learn from each other despite deep differences on important questions.” You can view their conversation here.

+ In last week’s Capital Commentary, David Koyzis reminds us, “What people believe makes a difference in their shared life together.”

+ Lent begins next week on Ash Wednesday, and Page CXVI is giving us a new batch of songs for this upcoming season of the Christian year. “Lent to Maundy Thursday” releases next week, which will be followed by “Good Friday to Easter” during Holy Week.

+ Speaking of Lent, among the books I plan to read this year is Graham Tomlin’s Looking Through the Cross. Here’s a trailer of sorts.

+ Christians in the Central African Republic are using their church buildings to shelter Muslims from attacks by other Christians. This crazy story comes from Slate: “On the grounds of the church, the men kneel on rice sacks pointed toward Mecca and whisper their prayers.”

+ I was inspired and encouraged by this introduction to “The Vicar of Baghdad” in First Things.

+ Given ongoing events in Ukraine and Venezuela, I was interested in Matt Ford’s piece in The Atlantic Cities about the public square as a “physical manifestation of democracy.”

+ How anti-poverty programs fail to account for the role fathers play in children’s lives.

+ This New York Times story about uranium pollution on the Navajo reservation is so tragic and sad.

+ Let’s face it: Arizona doesn’t have the best reputation in this country, and these findings sure don’t help. But as Jamie Smith kindly reminded me, it certainly could be worse.

+ A sobering look at the options Guatemalan migrants (don’t) have after being deported.

+ It’s time for some baseball.



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Repaso: March 1, 2013


1. Consuming church
Amy Simpson on what happens when churches act like businesses:

Churches behave like businesses but act surprised when people in their congregations behave like consumers. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against being organized. I’m not against plans. Anyone who knows me would laugh at that idea; I can’t go 10 minutes without organizing something. And if I had something against business, I wouldn’t have an MBA. But there’s a difference between organizing and institutionalizing. Between making plans and packaging them. Between building a loving community and surrounding yourself with “the best.” And it makes no sense to establish a business and expect either your employees or your customers to pitch in like they’re at a family reunion.

2. Yearning for the way things will be
Gideon Strauss offers a Lenten meditation on his experience serving as an interpreter for South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission:

During Lent we reflect on the life of the one who makes reconciliation possible. We recall moments of reconciliation, in our own lives and in the history of this wonderful, heartbroken world. But we look around and see, mostly, accommodation to the way things are. And so we yearn for the way things could be, for the way things will one day be. Slowly, as the days lengthen, we are turned, in our reflecting and remembering and yearning, toward the rising of the Christ, and the eventual complete reconciliation of all things in that rising.

3. Selling books to Johnny Cash
Jeff Elder worked in his family’s used bookstore in Nashville as a teenager, and during that time, this happened:

One summer day I sat at the large wooden desks we used in the store as front counters. The fans twirled hypnotically. The sun bleared through the storefront windows, shined along the shelves of old books, faded as it passed over the scuffed black-and-green tile floor, and died before it reached me. I was in the cool shadows, removed, reading I don’t remember what. A large figure in black appeared before me. It was Johnny Cash. He said the perfect thing for Johnny Cash to say. This is what he said: “Son, where are your books on trains?”

4. Common Good PHX
After months of tossing ideas around and weeks of hammering out details, I’m excited to begin spreading the word about Common Good PHX, a two-day conference featuring Andy Crouch, who will be speaking on the topic of how Christians in Phoenix can contribute to the flourishing of our city. The event will be held April 12-13 at Christ Church Anglican, and will also include local breakout speakers. Learn more and register here.


QU4RTETS from Pilar Timpane on Vimeo.

[Photo credit: Lakewood Church, Houston via]

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Repaso: January 26, 2013


1. Johnny Cash and prison reform
Johnny Cash is well known for his live record At Folsom Prison and for his (mostly fictional) song lyrics about doing time. But the BBC has a piece on Cash’s campaign for prison reform, asking whether his appeals to Congress were ultimately successful:

Cash not only outlined to the senators on Capitol Hill what he thought was wrong with the American penal system, he also told them how he believed it could be improved. His proposals included the separation of first-timers and hardened criminals, the reclassification of offences to keep minor offenders out of prison, a focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment, and counselling to prepare convicts for the outside world and reduce the possibility of them reoffending. At a time when countries around the world are still wrestling with the question of how to handle those they incarcerate, many of the issues Cash raised that day feel just as relevant today. The fact that we are still debating them 40 years later suggests Cash failed. But did he?

2. Solving the immigration puzzle
In what seems to be another sign that when it comes to immigration reform the times they are a-changin’, a prominent Republican politician from Florida and a Libertarian from an Arizona think tank (it’s no coincidence that both states have large Hispanic populations) are co-authoring a book called Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution. They wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this week, touching on a number of “realities [that] must be faced squarely,” including this pertinent point:

Critics of comprehensive reform often argue that illegal immigrants should return to their native countries and wait in line like everyone else who wants to come to America. But unless they have relatives in the U.S. or can fit within the limited number of work-based visas, no line exists for such individuals. For most aspiring immigrants, the only means of legal admission to this country is an annual “diversity lottery” that randomly awards visas to 55,000 foreigners. There are roughly 250 applicants for each visa every year. The absence of a meaningful avenue of access increases the pressure for illegal immigration.

3. Summoned from the margin
One of the books I’d really like to read this year is a memoir by African historian and missiologist Lamin Sanneh (who teaches at Yale) called Summoned from the Margin: Homecoming of an African. The publisher, Eerdmans, posted a 23-minute interview about his own upbringing in a polygamous family and some insight into the personal history behind his academic interest in Christian-Muslim relations.

4. Young churches, old buildings
Martin Swant explores the trend among relatively new churches (especially “young, restless, Reformed” ones) “undertaking multimillion-dollar renovation projects to breathe new life into historic churches or other structures, instead of building a contemporary big-box.” It’s a fascinating read. Though of course the story would feel a lot different for those belonging to the congregations being phased out, here’s the perspective of one Louisville pastor:

I think it’s a wonderful thing to kind of reclaim, restore, and renew a place. I think it’s a picture of the gospel as well that Christ is making all things new, but at the same time I think people love contemporary. Are people attracted to old? Yes. Are people attracted to the contemporary? Yes. We want to make it really clear that we are not the first to step into the scene. We are just one of many in this larger story.

5. A Tall Order
With the New Year Rate deadline for The Justice Conference simulcast coming up in a few days on January 31 (register now!), there’s a new promo video featuring Micah Bournes waxing poetic on the streets of Philadelphia. It’s amazing.

Repaso is intended as a thought-provoking compilation of news and commentary related to the intersections of faith, development, justice and peace. As always, I welcome your thoughts on any of the links and ideas in this roundup!

[Image credit: Sony BMG via]


I’ve spent the past three days retracing my roots here in Guatemala City, where twelve days past the due date and weighing in at ten pounds, six ounces I came into this world back in the year of 1982. An evangelical televangelist was the president of the country at the time – or dictator, I guess I should say – and once the dust settled on the 36-year civil war it turned out he was one of the most ruthless offenders of indigenous human rights the country had ever seen. And the country has seen its fair share, tragically.

I share that for no reason other than that this country is a land of contradictions, which was perfectly illustrated earlier in the week at a restaurant way out in the highlands when the faucet in the restroom didn’t work — instead you had to dip a bowl into a bucket of water sitting in the corner — and yet the automatic hand-drier worked just fine. As I was pondering this afterwords it occurred to me that Guatemalans ought to really like Johnny Cash because he too was quite contradictory for most of his life.

So here I am in this city of three million in a fairly poor and tumultuous country, this city where I was born and where I have so many memories, and I’ve been going here and there in taxis, without a clue as to the layout of the place. It’s a tricky city to navigate because it is on a plateau but has ravines all around it with little fingers of flatness sticking out as if to taunt the elements of nature, which also means you rarely can get from points A to B in a direct line.

On Thursday I headed over to a bookstore/cafe I had read about because, well, it is a bookstore/cafe and I am who I am. It was so posh, though, it made me scratch my head, puzzled that this place and Sipacapa — where I had been just one day prior — could actually exist in the same universe, much less the same developing country. Yesterday I visited a few museums and a market, and on the way back in the taxi I got into a discussion with the driver about world Christianity and the rise of Pentecostalism. He said that in Guatemala City people are leaving the Catholic Church in droves and joining evangelical and Pentecostal churches. I had heard that 60% of the country identified as either Pentecostal or charismatic, but I also know about where Guatemala ranks in terms of homicide and corruption, and you wonder how these faith and crime statistics can coexist. But they do.

So today I headed downtown, to Kilometer Zero, to the central plaza which has on two of its sides the National Palace and a cathedral, respectively. During part of the tour of the palace we walked through a photography display of the quetzal, Guatemala’s national bird. Legend has it that when the Mayan warrior Tecun Uman was fighting against the Spanish invaders back in the day, a quetzal descended on him as he was dying, and ever since the bird has a bright red chest on account of spilled Mayan blood, and it refuses to sing. It is also said that the quetzal cannot live in captivity, which alludes, apparently, to the fact that Guatemalans highly value their freedom.

Today on the tour as the guide pointed out the series of photos of quetzals in captivity, an older Guatemalan man said, “What about the saying, about quetzals not being able to live in captivity?” The guide didn’t skip a beat, and responded, “That’s right. They cannot live in captivity.” And we moved on, down the hallway, no questions asked.