Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Man in Black...

From a friend in a yahoo group of mine... he gives the lyrics of one of my favorite Johnny Cash songs. Every time I am called a "black shirt" by one of my pastoral colleagues, who is aiming to shame me into getting me out of my clerical collar, I am reminded of this song.

Johnny Cash: Man In Black

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there's a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

Well, we're doin' mighty fine, I do suppose,
In our streak of lightnin' cars and fancy clothes,
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back,
Up front there ought 'a be a Man In Black.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

And, I wear it for the thousands who have died,
Believen' that the Lord was on their side,
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died,
Believen' that we all were on their side.

Well, there's things that never will be right I know,
And things need changin' everywhere you go,
But 'til we start to make a move to make a few things right,
You'll never see me wear a suit of white.

Ah, I'd love to wear a rainbow every day,
And tell the world that everything's OK,
But I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back,
'Till things are brighter, I'm the Man In Black.


Steve Andersen said...

Whenever one of my “colleagues” makes a crack about my blacks, or as the assistant to the bishop recently put it “You have chosen a very religious image for yourself.” I make a point of four things:

1) I am a pretty religious guy – aren’t you?

2) I am a professional, and I think, when talking to people about their faith, it is best to dress the part – not like a used car salesman on the way to a golf outing.

3) The way we present ourselves matters. Can I lead worship in sweats and a t-shirt? Sure – but I don’t because I have respect for what I am doing and those around me.

4) My blacks set me apart. When people encounter me in the street, even without talking to me they think of Christ. That would not happen if I were wearing a suit and tie, making myself indistinguishable from every other sales man out there... Isn’t that what we are to be about?

Then I ask why they don’t wear black. I don’t get a lot of static from folks a second time.

Brian said...

Thanks Steve. I think number four is the one that resonates with me the most. The collar is the best introduction as to what I am. People don't have to ask. I don't have to explain. I become one who is to talk about Jesus. I am always amazed at how the collar affects me personally. I find myself very conscious that while wearing the collar I am obviously proclaiming something about Jesus. How is that received when others watch me doing something? Am I ogling some woman running down the street? Am I flicking off some driver who cuts me off? I cease to be the transparent human being when I put on the collar... at least in my eyes.

I must acknowledge at the same time however that my collar can also be an obstacle to those who see not Jesus, but something else... tyranical authority, oppressor, superstitious fool, etc. For those who see that, I hope that there is some chance for discussion where they get to know me, as they would rather I become acquainted with them instead of just judging them as either hopelessly lost OR simply another soul to be saved.