Richard Beck is Professor of Psychology at Abilene University, author, blogger and leader of a weekly bible study for inmates at the maximum security French-Robertson unit. He’s also a big fan of the country musician Johnny Cash (who also knew a thing or two about prison).
David Blower (another Cash fan) asks Richard what we can learn from the faith of Johnny Cash, a man known for his deep empathy for the marginalised and who risked commercial success to stand in solidarity with them, but who also wrestled with deep personal pain and struggled for years with drug addiction.
After the interview, Nomad hosts David Blower and Tim Nash discuss what they can learn from the life of Johnny Cash and how this might shape their evolving faith.
Interview begins at 19m 28s
“A lot of us when we think about the cross think about it from a substitutionary atonement idea – that the death of Jesus saves us from the punishment of our sins. But another way – a supplemental way to think about it – is that the cross becomes kind of a compass. If we’re trying to locate God in the world – where is God, how do you find God? Well, if God is hanging on a cross as a convicted criminal – outside of the gates, as it says in Hebrews – then the cross becomes a way to locate God in the world. Where am I going to find God? I’m going to find God somewhere outsides the gates, and I’m going to find God – somewhat paradoxically – among the God-forsaken.”
“Solidarity’s harder, but it’s also human. It brings us into the human encounter. It’s a real relationship and real relationships are risky. Anybody who’s loved anybody knows that – to love is to bring risk. So, you can minimize your risk by just rescuing people. And I think churches do that, right? They would rather engage in charity, where it’s a one-sided giving but there is no risk in charity. That person can’t hurt me, they can’t disappoint me. But to enter into a friendship with somebody means that you bring in the risk of disappointment and disagreement and conflict. There can be heartache involved in that. But it’s worth the risk because you’re moving into the mystery of a deep, true human encounter.”