Icons of the South
When: June 8, 2022, 2:45 pm - Wednesday
Where: Ezell 211
Southern culture is strongly shaped by the arts, including religion, literature, and music. This session explores the intersection of justice, spirituality, imagination, embodiment, and the arts–which combines elements of poetry, process thought, and narrative theology. By looking at the birth of country music, lessons learned from Johnny Cash, the writings of Southern novelist, Pat Conroy, this session will focus on truths of the imagination—humans seeking transformation.
Michael Streissguth, Le Moyne College, “What I’ve Finally Concluded About Johnny Cash”
After more than two decades of writing books, articles, and making films about Johnny Cash, Michael Streissguth, one of the foremost authorities on Johnny Cash, shares five observations on the entertainer’s life and career that he feels get at the value of Cash as an icon. Cash’s stature in American culture has surged since his death in 2003. But amid the many myths that have fueled the surge—mostly around arrests, drug use, and other self-destructive tendencies—what were the simple, though oft-ignored, truths he exhibited that draw millions to his music and his humanity.
Brooks Blevins, Missouri State University, “Two Days in the Ozarks: George D. Hay and the Origins of the Grand Ole Opry”
In 1945 George D. Hay published a book commemorating the first twenty years of the Grand Ole Opry radio show. Buried somewhere near the middle of that book was Hay’s brief and vague description of a trip to Arkansas that inspired his iconic country music program. Hay’s story of his journey to Arkansas has largely been ignored by the Nashville establishment and country music historians, but the untold story of those two days in the Ozarks provides a window into the world that gave birth to commercial country music a century ago.
Vic Hunter, Independent Scholar, Denver CO, “Human Brokenness and the Perilous Journey toward Wholeness: What Pat Conroy Has Taught Me about Preaching”
Pat Conroy, a leading author of late-20th and early 21st century Southern literature, represents the porous nature between art and personal experience. As a writer he was a teller of stories, with a deep commitment to exploring the broken human condition and the perilous quest for wholeness with his readers. Vic will explore what Pat Conroy has taught him about preaching, writing, pastoral care and storytelling through his use of “poetic prose” in fiction and books of memoir. A theopoetic approach to Christian theology and faith demands “poetic prose” in Christian proclamation.
Micki Pulleyking, Missouri State University, Convener
- Michael Streissguth, Le Moyne College, “What I've Finally Concluded About Johnny Cash”
- Brooks Blevins, Missouri State University, “Two Days in the Ozarks: George D. Hay and the Origins of the Grand Ole Opry”
- Vic Hunter, Independent Scholar, Denver, CO, “Human Brokenness and the Perilous Journey toward Wholeness: What Pat Conroy Has Taught Me about Preaching”