Johnny Cash and the Great American Contradiction: Christianity and the Battle for the Soul of a Nation

Alasdair MacIntyre famously compared dying for the modern nation-state to dying for the phone company. One cannot imagine a more dismissive claim about this country for Americans, whether on the left or right, for whom the U.S. has a special place in God’s saving dispensation.

Rodney Clapp sees Johnny Cash as an exemplar of American citizenship who lies between these extremes. America is not so absurdly impersonal, but neither is it God’s Israel. It is more interesting than either caricature.

Clapp is a master observer of popular culture and a theologian in the tradition of Stanley Hauerwas. His book is a theologian’s survey of Cash’s extraordinary life and work, and also a tweak to his fellow Hauerwas readers: if American citizenship means Johnny Cash, it ain’t all bad.


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