Acton Institute Powerblog

The Man in Black

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“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.”

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.


  • Jordan,

    I thought you might like the Johnny Cash poem I penned the morning I found out he passed away.

    The First time I saw you, you were in black at the Memphis fair
    For all those people you touched,
    there was excitement and anticipation in the air
    You sang your new songs like “Meet me in heaven”
    and how could I forget “I’ve been everywhere”
    You’re Johnny Cash, you even spent time in the Starkville City jail

    Sometimes my brother and I would sit around and pick Folsom Prison Blues
    And when I lost that pretty girl
    You helped me put on my dancing shoes
    But most of all your gospel songs comforted my soul
    A constant reminder He washed all my sins away
    Especially when you sang “The old account was settled long ago”

    Your conversion story always reminded me of being on my knees
    and I thank you on those days I felt alone,
    I could always listen to “I walk the Line” and “One Piece at a Time”
    Remember the times you brought the gospel alive singing,
    “He turned the water into wine”

    So for the songs you penned and sang
    All the great ones about rebellion, forgiveness, heartbreak, and shame
    I tip my hat to the man in black,
    A man who didn’t forget about the downtrodden and locked away
    Whether you were in prison or Unchained.

    – Ray Nothstine

  • Very cool.