27 July 2009

Pop Culture Roundup

Yesterday morning I finished Rodney Clapp's excellent book Johnny Cash and the Great American Contradiction: Christianity and the Battle for the Soul of a Nation. I quoted it a few weeks ago, but even though it's a fairly slim volume, I've delayed finishing it because it's not the sort of book you read just before falling to sleep. As a matter of fact, I'd say it's a book you read if you really want to wake up, especially Clapp's arguments against what he calls "democracy for infants." It reads a little differently after the 2008 Presidential election - some of the extreme partisanship and knee-jerk jingoism Clapp critiques is beginning to be stamped out. Some, but by no means all, unfortunately. *sigh*

Johnny Cash has become a source of fascination for me over the past few years. (As an aside, I've come to love both Rich Mullins and Johnny Cash just before their deaths; I hope in this case that things really don't come in threes...) When I was a kid, Cash was just another stack of records in the cabinet at home; I was too young and too arrogant to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of Cash's music (even though it was Johnny Cash who gave my Dad's beloved Statler Brothers their big break). And, as Clapp notes, the man himself was a giant of American music who embodied the many contradictions that lie at the center of American life. It is this life that leads all of these pictures to be true pictures of the man:

At the very least, I've learned more about being an American by paying more attention to Johnny Cash over the past few years.

Beloved and I sat down to watch The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian last night. I was surprised at how little I liked the movie. There was a pervasive sense of ethical and moral development in the first installment of the Chronicles, and I guess I was expecting more of the same here, but it played far more like a generic medieval battle epic. I think I'm going to need to read the book again to see if it's true to Lewis' prose, or if this is a case of moviemakers ruining a good book (see The Seeker and Eragon, unfortunately - two wonderful fantasy tales that incompetents turned into dreadful movies).

This morning I started a new book: So Brave, Young and Handsome by Minnesotan Leif Enger. Five pages in I was absolutely hooked - it was acutely painful to close the book and come to work. I loved his first novel, Peace Like A River, and I have the feeling this one is going to be even better.

And, of course, yesterday marked the end of my three week obsession with the Tour de France. (made even more obsessive by our DVR, which allows me to watch the entire daily stage broadcast. I think Kristin's tired of watching men pedal bicycles in tights) I was so proud of Lance Armstrong for his strong ride, and I can't wait to see what he does next season as the leader of his new Radio Shack team. I love the insider stuff about the Tour as well: knowing who's leading in the sprint points competition, the King of the Mountains, the national champions from the various countries, watching the unwritten rules of the peloton play out over the course of the three week grand tour. Alberto Contador was a worthy champion this year, but something tells me next year will be a great showdown between Contador, Armstrong, Bradley Wiggins and the Schleck brothers, Andy and Frank.

Well, that's the roundup for today, and thanks to Coffeepastor for the idea. See you soon.

Grace & peace,


  1. ah the man in black.... there's a family link to mine with johnny... amazingly enough.

  2. I came to appreciate Johnny Cash's musical genius rather later in my life. I found the film "Walk the Line" hauntingly beautiful and very preachable.

    Good stuff.