Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Review: The Man Comes Around - The Spiritual Journey of Johnny Cash

I got to say that I am a big Johnny Cash fan.  I began to get interested in him when the movie "Ring of Fire" came out.  So it is without a doubt that a book exploring the spiritual journey of Cash would be very intriguing.  In fact, if you compared the movie to this book, sometimes you would wonder if they were portraying two different people, but, needless to say, the "bad boy / rebel" image is going to be more interesting to a mass market.  To be fair, this book did not sidestep the dark side of Cash either.  It portrayed him as very, very human with areas that he struggled with, along with a side to him that sought after God.  I was amazed at his close relationship with Billy Graham in particular.  Then again if you have ever read anything about Billy Graham this should not have surprised me.  The guy knew everybody.  I know that Graham had a big impact on many Presidents but I did not know that he had a strong relationship with Cash and even used him at times in his crusades.   

Cash was an incredible entertainer but even more so an incredible and complex man.  His life exemplifies how life can be very hard but God's grace overcomes.  He had a very deep and personal faith that was reflected in all of his music.  Themes such as bad decisions, poor choices and out-right sin will have consequences; forgiveness; redemption; love; anger; a hope longing for things to be made right.  Also, through his personal struggles he was able to really have a passion for the "nobodies" of society which is reflected in his prison recording.  He connected with his audience and fans on a very personal level. 

The only thing I did not like about this book was how it abruptly ended and then went into several quotes from a variety of people about their thoughts on Cash.  I thought that there should have been a chapter reflecting the spiritual impact of his legacy after his death.  Also, the quotes were from so many different types of people.  Some only saw the "bad boy" image of Johnny Cash and that was what was reflected in their quotes.  I thought that the quotes should have been taken more from those who had a larger appreciation for the legacy of Cash and his spiritual journey.

If you have an interest in appreciating the faith journey of Johnny Cash then this book is a great start.  I hope that God has put Johnny Cash in charge of music up in heaven.  There are all sorts of "Christian music" I have had to suffer through growing up in the church in which I would be thinking thoughts like: "Dear God, if this music is what we will have to listen to in heaven I'm gonna have a real hard time up there then."  Cash would have heaven rockin' with all the themes that make the Bible an amazing book.  I can only hope!

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