Gospel Americana and That Old-Time Religion

By Easy Ed, No Depression

It’s hard to escape the influence that gospel music has had on almost every form of American roots and popular music. It’s always fascinated me that some of the greatest spirituals have been performed by pill-poppin’ and bottle drinkin’ fornicators and sinners, and there is a long list of those who have easily crossed that highway. Little Richard and Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Sam Cooke quickly come to mind.

Which brings me back to the aforementioned Jimmy Lee Swaggart.

In February 1988 Swaggart admitted to his audience that he had sinned, and was suspended by the Assemblies of God for sexual immorality. Because they felt he wasn’t repentant enough, he was defrocked. Two years later, now an independent Pentacostal preacher, he was found in the company of a prostitute for the second time. Instead of offering yet another public apology, he stood on the pulpit and declared “The Lord told me it’s flat none of your business.”

On my own spiritual path, somewhere along the way I’ve moved from atheism to becoming a reluctant agnostic. Ceremonial trappings, century-old traditions, preachers on television with toll-free numbers on the screen, and the hypocrisy of those who espouse family values yet embrace politicians who ritually lie, cheat, and steal will not cause me to repent nor accept a savior. But to each their own. Nature, emotion, art, and music in all its glorious forms are my higher power. And I say amen to that.

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