All posts tagged bob dylan

  • Bob Dylan: A Tribute


    Bob Dylan: A Tribute
    Brian Zahnd

    Early one mornin’ the sun was shinin’
    I was layin’ in bed
    Wond’rin’ if she’d changed at all
    If her hair was still red

    That’s how it began. Early one morning when I was fifteen I woke to “Tangled Up In Blue” on the radio. At that time my music obsessions were rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Blue Öyster Cult, ZZ Top; I wasn’t into singer-songwriter music — it wasn’t heavy enough for me. I was only vaguely aware of Bob Dylan; I knew “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Lay Lady Lay.” That was about it. But as I listened to the song in a half-dream state I was mesmerized by the meter and effortless rhymes of Dylan’s poetry.

    I lived with them on Montague Street
    In a basement down the stairs
    There was music in the cafés at night
    And revolution in the air

    I believe it was that morning in 1975 that my love for artistic language was born, and I know that was the moment I became a Bob Dylan fan. For over forty-six years BZ (Bobby Zimmerman) has been a constant companion, providing the soundtrack for my life. If I were to listen to all the records, CDs, and digital files of Dylan albums and live bootlegs that I have, it would take weeks of 24-7 listening.

    Yes, I’m a hardcore fan. I didn’t choose to become a hardcore fan, it just happened. It’s more like an addiction, but an addiction that has been nothing but good for me. I respect the kind of hardcore fandom you see among enthusiasts of Dylan, The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, U2, Metallica, etc. A deep dive into an artist’s work makes it that much more enjoyable. Nevertheless, I don’t think it’s really a choice you make, it just happens. I’m grateful that Dylan’s art captured my heart at a young age.
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  • Of God and Genocide

    Oh God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son”
    Abe says, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”
    God say, “No.” Abe say, “What?”
    God say, “You can do what you want Abe, but
    The next time you see me comin’ you better run”
    Well Abe says, “Where do you want this killin’ done?”
    God says, “Out on Highway 61”
    —Bob Dylan, “Highway 61 Revisited”

    Let’s play a little game. I’ll ask a few questions and you answer them. Okay?

    First question: Did God tell Abraham to kill his son?

    You say yes? But hastily add that God didn’t actually require Abraham to go through with it — it was just a test of faith.

    All right.

    Next question: Did God command Joshua, King Saul, and the Israelites to kill children as part of the ethnic cleansing of Canaan?

    Is that a hesitant yes I hear, like walking in untied shoes?

    My next question is simple and straightforward: Does God change?

    I sense your confident answer of no to this question. And you are quite correct. A cornerstone of Christian theology has always been that God is immutable — that is, God doesn’t mutate from one kind of being into another kind of being. The immutability of God is the solid ground upon which our faith stands.

    Next question (brace yourself): Since God doesn’t change, and since you have already acknowledged that in times past God has sanctioned the killing of children as part of a genocidal program of conquest, is it then possible that God would require you to kill children?

    You say you don’t like this game? I understand. I don’t really like it either. But bear with me a little more; we’re almost done.

    Last question: If God told you to kill children, would you do so?

    I know, I know! Calm down. Of course, you answer without hesitation that under no circumstances would you participate in the genocidal slaughter of children. (At least I hope that’s how you answer!)

    Yet in answering with an unequivocal no to the question of whether you would kill children, are you claiming a moral superiority to the God depicted in parts of the Old Testament? After all, the Bible says God commanded the Israelites to exterminate the inhabitants of the land during their conquest of Canaan, including children…right? Yet (hopefully) you find the very suggestion of participating in genocide morally repugnant. So what’s going on here? Is genocide something God used to command but now God has reformed his ways? We already agreed that God doesn’t change, God doesn’t mutate. So if God used to sanction genocide, and God doesn’t change…well, you see the problem. You’ve been painted into a corner.

    So where do we go from here? Our options are limited. We really have only three possible courses.
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  • God’s Love In Granite

    Mills

    God’s Love In Granite
    Brian Zahnd

    The Bible opens with a creation narrative and the constant refrain is the goodness of it all. In the first chapter of Genesis God declares every day as good. The third day (the day life begins) is declared good twice. On the sixth day of creation we are told, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

    The ancient Hebrew account of the entire goodness of creation stands in stark contrast to the pagan creation stories where the world comes into existence amidst the chaos of a great struggle between good and evil. In the rival myths of the ancient world, evil plays a role in creation. The first great revelation of the Hebrew scriptures is that the universe flows entirely from the goodness of God; evil played no part in God’s good creation.
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  • Mistaken As the Gardener

    gardener (1)

    Mistaken As the Gardener
    Brian Zahnd

    “Mary Magdalene turned around and saw Jesus standing there,
    but she did not know it was Jesus…supposing him to be the gardener.”
    –John 20:14, 15

    “On the third day the friends of Christ coming at day-break to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realized the new wonder; the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of a gardener God walked again in the garden, not in the cool of the evening, but in the dawn.”
    –G.K. Chesterton

    The first person to encounter the risen Christ was Mary Magdalene. It happened in a garden. At first Mary thought Jesus was the gardener. A logical mistake. Or a prophetic mistake. Or a beautiful mistake. Or perhaps not a mistake at all.
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  • The Last Train Out of Monkeytown

    TrainTracks

    (This poem has deep meaning for Blind Man at the Gate, but many of the references and allusions probably only he understands. Don’t bother asking him to explain the poem, I’m sure he won’t.)

    The Last Train Out of Monkeytown
    Blind Man at the Gate

    He caught the last train out of Monkeytown
    Bought a ticket on Easter 04 and was eastbound
    Left the wagon train beamed from outer space
    Said adios to the obtuse and turned his face
    Toward something he hoped was there
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  • Feel the Falseness (An Appeal To Faith Leaders)

    what-is-truth-christ-and-pilate

    Feel the Falseness
    Brian Zahnd

    “The first precondition of being called a spiritual leader is to perceive and feel the falsehood that is prevailing in society, and then to dedicate one’s life to a struggle against that falsehood. If one tolerates the falsehood and resigns oneself to it, one can never become a prophet. If one cannot rise above material life, one cannot even become a citizen in the Kingdom of the Spirit, far less a leader of others.” –Vladimir Solovyov in his eulogy of Fyodor Dostoevsky

    Can you feel it?

    It’s all around you. But can you feel it? The falseness — the falseness that prevails in society. Most are so sedated they never even suspect it. Some sense it, but cannot name it. It takes a prophet to name it. Dostoevsky in his day was well aware of it, which is why he was so much more than a novelist. Dostoevsky wrote his dark, brooding stories because he felt the falseness. What we take for truth, for reality, for the way things are and the way we assume things must be is almost entirely false. The world as it’s arranged is built upon a foundation of falsehood. The prevailing falseness memorialized in marble and robed in glory can appear indisputable, but as Dylan says, “all the truth in the world adds up to one big lie.”

    And now I will appeal to someone more authoritative then Dostoevsky or Dylan.

    Jesus.
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  • Every Scene By Heart

    Perigrino
    Peri in front of our albergue in Belorado, Spain

    Peri Zahnd has written a book about her experience on the Camino de Santiago that she and I walked last fall. The book is entitled Every Scene By Heart. It’s a beautifully written and deeply spiritual memoir that takes the reader on the five hundred mile journey with Peri. I’m thrilled to say that Every Scene By Heart is now available! And to help celebrate I would like to share some thoughts from the afterword Peri asked me to write for her enchanting book.

    Sundown, yellow moon, I replay the past
    I know every scene by heart, they all went by so fast

    -Bob Dylan

    ESBH

    Afterword
    Brian Zahnd
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  • How I’m Voting

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    How I’m Voting
    Brian Zahnd

    Election season. The worst of times. The bane of my pastoral existence. A forced march through Desolation Row.

    Praise be to Nero’s Neptune, the Titanic sails at dawn
    Everybody’s shouting, “Which side are you on?!”

    I’ve become so exasperated with America’s quadrennial descent into politicized madness that four years ago Peri and I made plans to take a seven week sabbatical and walk the Camino de Santiago during September and October of 2016. At this point that decision seems to be among the best I’ve ever made. Peri and I can’t wait to begin our five hundred mile pilgrim walk an ocean away from a million political ads and the hysteria they induce.

    You see, having pledged all my allegiance to the Lamb I have none left for elephants or donkeys. I’ve placed all of my hope in the kingdom of Christ. My short form politics is, “Jesus is Lord.” My long form politics is the Sermon on the Mount. And I know good and well that neither the elephant party nor the donkey party have the inclination or ability to seriously embrace the cruciform politics of Lamb. That’s the gist of my political theology.
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  • Grain and Grape

    van-gogh-wheat-field

    Grain and Grape
    Brian Zahnd

    In the mystery of the Eucharist God in Christ chooses to make himself present to humanity by ordinary elements. Through grain and grape we find Christ present in the world. But it’s not unprocessed grain and grape that we find on the Communion table, it’s bread and wine. Grain and grape come from God’s good earth, but bread and wine are the result of human industry. Bread and wine come about through a cooperation of the human and the divine. And herein lies a beautiful mystery. If grain and grape made bread and wine can communicate the body and blood of Christ, this has enormous implications for all legitimate human labor and industry.

    The mystery of the Eucharist does nothing less than make all human labor sacred. For there to be the holy sacrament of Communion there must be grain and grape, wheat fields and vineyards, bakers and winemakers. Human labor becomes a sacrament. A farmer planting wheat. A vintner tending vines. A miller grinding wheat. A winemaker crushing grapes. A woman baking bread. A man making wine. A trucker hauling bread. A grocer selling wine. Who knows what bread or what wine might end up on the Communion table as the body and blood of Christ.

    This is where we discover the holy mystery that all labor necessary for human flourishing is sacred. A farmer plowing his field, a worker in a bakery, a trucker hauling goods, a grocer selling wares, all are engaged in work that is just as sacred as the priest or pastor serving Communion on Sunday. The Eucharist pulls back the curtain to reveal a sacramental world.
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