Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…

The Man in White

Johnny Cash wrote a book about the Apostle Paul? Yes! And here's the rundown on The Man in White.

Johnny Cash was actually a capable writer. He clearly put a lot of research and time into his exploration of the pre-conversion life of Saul of Tarsus, and felt a strong personal connection to the apostle. He has great description of Paul's mystical experiences, and most of the characters in the book are well drawn.

On the other hand, I'm not very convinced of Cash's interpretation of Saul's character before his conversion or the relationship he had with the Sanhedrin and his fellow pharisees. In Cash's story, the Sanhedrin views the Christians as heretics and worthy of death, but at the same time they view Saul as a dangerous and rather annoying fanatic. The high priest is only too happy to give Saul the required letters simply in order to get him out of Jerusalem. Of course, the Bible doesn't paint a clear character picture for us so it's mostly just a matter of personal interpretation, and Cash is careful not to contradict the Scriptures in any particulars. The ending felt a bit rushed as well, and there were a couple of factual historical errors that were clearly simple editorial oversights; Diana is called the goddess of love, for example.

To be honest, I most enjoyed the lengthy introduction to the book written by Cash. It details his spiritual journey as a Christian through his later years of addiction to pain killers up through the death of his father. I especially liked the image of Johnny Cash traveling with a saddlebag stuffed with three Bibles, and copies of Josephus, Tacitus, and Suetonius. Cash writes nonfiction with much more ease and style than he does fiction.

Overall I would recommend this book for fans of Johnny Cash as an interesting curiosity. Also for folks who are big fans of historical fiction, this is a shortish read that you may want to check out as well. Otherwise, you're not missing out if you give this one a skip.


Erica said…
I never realized that Johnny Cash's middle name was Carter.

I am now envisioning him as a descendant of John Carter of Mars. I think him having Martian blood makes perfect sense.