storytelling

Believing in Johnny Cash: An Open Letter to Atheists

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Several days ago I was in the car, listening to songs shuffled at random. Just as I pulled into the parking lot I heard the opening lines of “The Legend of John Henry’s Hammer,” recorded at one of Cash’s famous 1968 Folsom Prison shows. Transfixed, I sat and listened to the whole seven-minute song, which tells the story of a man who, after winning a heart-pounding spike-driving competition against a machine, lays down his hammer and dies. It is a great story that may be read as a warning to those who equate scientific and technological advance with human progress. What I’d like to ask is this: do stories point us, in even the smallest of ways, toward anything that might be described as the truth?

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