It Takes a Worried Man

The political becomes the personal for Christian alt-country guitar hero Buddy Miller

But surrounding "This Old World" are six songs about the lightning factor—songs of dread rectified by faith. Some of these could console anyone, like the redemptive "Returning," or "Wide River to Cross" with its Emmylou-tempered "I'm only halfway home"; others are harsher, warning sinners "Don't Wait," or "Fall on the Rock" ("Before the rock falls on you"). Either way, however, their limits are manifest. It's bigotry to believe all Christians are the same, myopia to deny that faith in something bigger underlies all humane politics. But there's a difference between Christians and secular humanists—secular humanists live convinced that halfway home is halfway to oblivion. Miller is grounded enough to know that Christians are supposed to earn God's eternity by doing good here, and worldly enough to understand that voting for justice should be what voting your values means. But the Louvin Brothers, for instance, weren't. Me, I fear the works of some men plenty. The most dangerous is a born-again Christian, believe it. And I'll never forgive him.

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