Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dylan and darkness

I've been listening to Dylan's new CD, Tempest, and liking it a lot. The reviewer at Christianity Today liked it, too.

Today I came across an excerpt from an interview Dylan did for Rolling Stone during which he responds to some of his critics and in the process noting a criticism from a few decades ago that he seems to have particularly resented:
.... These are the same people that tried to pin the name Judas on me. Judas, the most hated name in human history! If you think you've been called a bad name, try to work your way out from under that. Yeah, and for what? For playing an electric guitar? As if that is in some kind of way equitable to betraying our Lord and delivering him up to be crucified. ....
And also a longer article again at Christianity Today focusing on the religious implications of "The Dark Side of Dylan":
.... Maybe it's an accident of timing, but Dylan's ecclesiastical voice is absolutely unique within the confines of the Baby Boomer generation and the art they crafted. The fact that his musical sojourns so frequently and artfully included well formed considerations of the gospel simply adds to his gravitas. The material that closely followed his conversion to Christianity in the late 1970s reflected a far darker and more biblically accurate view of the life and priorities of a Jesus follower than most socially polite "gospel" music would ever dare. There were no holds barred, for instance, in the decidedly impolite and absolute sentiments of "Gotta Serve Somebody":
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody
Smack in the middle of the "me" decade, here was a prophet crying in the wilderness that any of our concepts of personal freedom are ultimately a myth. Our option is not to serve or to be independent, but simply to choose to whom we will ultimately bow. Sure, many of his fans hated this era of his music, but any honest consideration of his meta-narrative would have to include stark observations such as this.

There is nothing darker, and more liberating, than the ultimate message of the gospel. Despite the sentiments of self-help televangelists, politically correct professors, and greeting card theologists, the gospel is as dark as it gets. Every human is born guilty. Every person lives under a death sentence. The human life is ultimately a choice between a temporal (though eventually victorious) struggle against our own nature—the death of the self—followed by an eternal reward of rest and peace, or it is about a loving God surrendering his creation to its own willful desire to be apart from him eternally. The choice is up to each individual person, but they face a host of enemies and allies along their own journey.

Regardless of his well-shrouded personal theology, Dylan has always been extremely adept at recognizing the human condition and calling it what it is: a life-long struggle with eternal implications. Certainly many Christians wish he would have remained as didactic as he seemed to be on his "Christian" records Slow Train Coming, Saved and Shot of Love, but that's because many Christians seem uncomfortable with the process of discernment. Why wrestle with meaning when there are easier answers to be had elsewhere? .... [more]
Bob Dylan Strikes Back at Critics | Music News | Rolling Stone, The Dark Side of Dylan | Christianity Today