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Saturday, March 18, 2006
On  Telling the Right Story

I finally saw Walk the Line last night-- the story of Johnny Cash.  In the early part of the movie, John, as a child, is laying in bed talking to his older brother, Jack. John admires Jack's commitment to read the Bible while Jack lifts up John's devotion to their mama's hymnal.  John asks him why he reads his Bible so much to which Jack replies,

"If I can't tell the right story I can't help anybody."  

Here was the entire story of the story-- in one line.  

A few themes I'm thinking about:

1. John Cash began by telling the story of religion and learned to tell the story of faith-- through the songs and his life.  Pivotal scene:  first audition at the recording studio.  The dialogue between the record exec. and Cash was profound.  you will remember Johnny sang a Gospel song and the record exec. responded, "You don't believe it." He went on to add that this Gospel music doesn't sell.

2. The profound brokenness in John's life occasioned by the disastrous relationship with his Father.  

3. The amazing connections between his being drawn, early on to prison, his life of imprisonment to addiction and the galvanizing of his sense of mission to go into the prisons after his release from addiction.

4. The incredible scene where June Carter goes into the lake to rescue him from the tractor accident. It had baptismal significance.

5. Johnny's later meeting with the record executives where he told them he was going to make a live recording in Folsom Prison. They told him that Christians weren't much interested in buying records made for rapists and murderers. Cash replied, "They aren't Christians then."

6. I'm wrestling with the interplay between two of the most famous songs: Ring of Fire and Walk the Line. Welcome your thoughts on this one.

Johnny Cash, through his life and music, sang the story of human pain and redemption, a tortured journey of faith and beauty.

ok-- i know-- i'm way behind on this one. but four kids later. . . . . . . . dvd's are my only hope.   
posted by John David Walt | at 3/18/2006 11:37:00 AM



Anonymous Anonymous said...

june is the one who first came up with the chorus of "ring of fire" i believe. perhaps june felt like life with jonny was circular; his patterns usually repeated themselves. hense the ring would "burn." loving him (like a ring would symbolize) also would "burn."

11:16 PM EST  
Blogger jason said...

the scene where johnny meets the record producer was powerful to me. in church sometimes i wonder what God thinks of our songs. i sing "I will give you all my worship" knowing the idols in my life would testify otherwise. sometimes i think a more honest approach to God would sound like "Lord, I don't love you very much, but I want to..." or something like that. good stuff, jd.

12:02 AM EST  
Blogger Eric said...

Hey J.D., Lisa and I saw the movie last night, and like you were truly moved. There were some greaet one-liners that you mentioned already. I thought 2, the one at the recording studio and the one when talking to the execs about the prison record were great.

I could be wrong but I think the line that you commented on on your fifth point was something to the effect, that Christians didnt want to buy a recording that was part of making murderers and rapists happy, to which Cash replied, "then they aren't Christians."

I really thought the movie was a great story of redemption and inner healing.

Still processing the movie and will note more later.

Peace to you and yours.

Also, thanks for sharing the family pics. You are blessed indeed!

10:48 AM EST  
Anonymous JP said...

Ring of Fire was June's writing as she sat at the table one night strumming on her auto-harp. I agree with anonymous' comments and would add that the fire/burn imagery might speak to the passion Johnny had for June as his security within the "ring of fire"..."the love went wild...."
The scene where June walked into the theater and the whole group was drunk right before a show and they were giving her a hard time...she told Johnny, "You can't walk that line." meaning, you can't do what it takes to be with me.
Next scene or two is Johnny recording Walk the Line. "I'll admit I'm a fool for you...because you're mine, I walk the line..."
Johnny is confessing that his love, his very need, for June is so strong he'll do whatever it takes to be with her...perhaps an analogy to our own unspoken need/love for Christ....do we live the way we live...walking the line so to speak, because of "holiness" legalism? or because we so desire Christ that we eagerly and willfully give up those things and behaviors that cause such distress in our relationship with Him?
Both songs speak to the passion one has for another.

12:14 PM EST  
Blogger Todd R. said...

Hey JD. Great Blog site! I'm a big Johnny Cash fan but, due to some of the same reasons you sited (kids, kids and more kids)I probably saw it a week before you did.

THe Ring of Fire song--Was written by June and I believe, while both of them were still married to other people. If I remember Johnny's autobiography, CASH, it was her struggling with fidelity to her husband and feelings towards Johnny.

CASH, by the way, is well worth the read. What I missed in the movie was the central role that his faith played in his recovery. He places his chapters on addiction and salvation back to back. In truth, this was his first of many bouts with addiction. It is very interesting and moving to read those stories interspersed with his experience of God's grace.

12:16 PM EST  

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