All posts tagged bob dylan

  • Forty Years of Following Jesus

    BZ74

    Forty Years of Following Jesus
    Brian Zahnd
    November 9, 2014

    It was November 1974. I was fifteen and it was my year of discovery. I was awakening to the world around me, forging an identity, becoming a self. I was drawn to the counterculture. I had discovered music — not my parents music, my music. Led Zeppelin was magic for me. I still remember the first time I heard Whole Lotta Love. That opening riff channeled my lust for life. I would sit for hours in my basement bedroom listening to Zeppelin, Hendrix, Mountain, Deep Purple, Allman Brothers. Soon I would discover Bob Dylan and he would provide the soundtrack for my life. My mom was worried about my long hours alone in my bedroom with my music, black lights, and incense. But she needn’t be. I was just making discoveries.

    You can live a whole lifetime when you’re fifteen. I don’t remember that much about being twenty-six or thirty-eight or forty-three, but it seems I remember every week of being fifteen. It was 1974 and people were reading Jaws. President Nixon resigned in August and Lynyrd Skynyrd didn’t care — “now Watergate does not bother me” (Sweet Home Alabama). The Rolling Stones told the truth: It’s Only Rock N’ Roll (But I Like It). Oh yeah, I remember that year. Every week was a new discovery.

    Then came November 9, 1974. It was a Saturday. A crisp autumn day. I woke up to David Essex on the radio. Rock On
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  • Halloween: A Search For The Sacred

    the-bored-gargoyle-of-notre-dame-2

    Halloween: A Search For The Sacred
    Brian Zahnd

    It’s Halloween. The season of ghosts and goblins, haunted houses and horror movies. The modern observance of Halloween seems, for the most part, to be an innocent celebration of the strange joy of being scared. There’s no doubt that a significant number of us do enjoy being scared as a form of entertainment. After all, Stephen King has sold 350 million books! But why? Why do we like to be scared? I think it has to do with a search for what is most missing in the modern world: the sacred. We like being scared because we are so very secular.

    When modernity came of age it banished the sense of the sacred. Empiricism, materialism, positivism had won the day. Science was now the high priest that would answer all questions and religion was merely the superstition of the hopelessly naïve. We found ourselves in a world without God or gods, a world beyond good and evil (as Nietzsche said), a world without angels and demons. Religion was but hucksterism and nothing was truly sacred anymore. Bob Dylan captured it well when he said,
    Read more

  • Every Grain of Sand

    Henri_Rousseau_-_La_zingara_addormentata

    Every Grain of Sand
    Brian Zahnd

    In the fury of the moment I can see the Master’s hand
    In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand

    –Bob Dylan, Every Grain of Sand

    I had a dream. I dreamed I was riding a yellow bicycle. While riding my yellow bicycle I was intently observing the beauty of creation, especially the vibrant colors — the green of the grass and trees (the human eye is more attune to the green spectrum than any other), the blue sky, the red roses, the yellow dandelions. During my colorful dreamland bike ride I was thinking about the nature of salvation. When I awoke I wrote down my nocturnal thoughts:

    When we make salvation mostly postmortem, all about the afterlife, we create a barrier — a wall of separation between redemption and the land of the living. No wonder so many shrug their shoulders in disinterest. But when we locate salvation here and now we achieve a stunning relevance.

    Salvation is about being human. This is why the Logic (Logos) of God became human flesh. Jesus came to give us back the life we lost ever since we stumbled out of the garden to wander in the violent land east of Eden.

    When Adam and Eve were banished from Eden Creation lost its gardener. Is it any surprise that the faster our technology has advanced the more rapacious we have become in the pillage and plunder of our planet? When we lost our vocation as gardeners, the planet lost its God-ordained caretakers. From the stone age to the dawn of the industrial age the planet has been able to muddle by without its caretakers, but now human civilization, divorced from its original vocation, threatens to imperil the earth.

    Mary Magdalene’s Easter “mistake” of thinking Jesus was the gardener is a poetic hint of how the Last Adam leads us back to our first vocation. Any understanding of salvation that doesn’t lead us to love God’s creation is far more Gnostic than Christian. Or perhaps it’s just voracious capitalism dressed up in Christian garb — a wolf in sheep’s clothing. If we cannot love the primeval forest I’m not sure we can love either God or neighbor. The wise Elder Zosima in The Brothers Karamazov gives this counsel to the novice monk Alyosha:
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  • The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and The Eucharist

    Apocalypse_vasnetsov

    The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and The Eucharist
    Brian Zahnd

    Like the other Gospel writers John recounts the story of Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes to feed five thousand. But John adds this unique postscript:

    “When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” (John 6:15)

    The crowd’s response to this “table in the wilderness” was an impulse to make Jesus king…but Jesus declined. Why? Jesus is king, he came to be king, king is what Messiah means. So why does Jesus slip away from the crowd when they want to make him king? The issue is force.

    The crowd wanted to “take him by force and make him king.” At the center of the crowd’s concept of kingship was violent force. They wanted to force Jesus to be their forceful king so he could lead their forces in an uprising of violent force against the Romans. This was antithetical to the kind of king Jesus came to be. Caesar is a crucifying king who reigns by force. Christ is the crucified king who reigns without force. Christ’s kingdom is built upon co-suffering love, not violent force.

    The crowd that wanted to force Jesus to be king was operating from the dominant paradigm of scarcity. This is the paradigm that possessed Cain to kill Abel, and it lies at the dark heart of human civilization. We are scripted to believe that reality is zero-based and that we live in a closed system.

    This paradigm of scarcity and insufficiency is the philosophy that undergirds our structures of systemic sin. We fear there won’t be enough land, water, food, oil, money, labor to go around, so we build evil structures of sinful force to guarantee “us” “ours.” We call it security. We call it defense. We call it freedom. What we don’t call it is what it is…fear. Driven by our fear of scarcity we create an organized, large-scale, slow-motion version of anarchy. A mob on a looting rampage is called anarchy. One nation looting another is called glorious conquest — but it’s just looting on a grand scale. Kings are tasked with looting our enemies on our behalf.
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  • Grain and Grape

    Red_vineyards

    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.
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  • BZ’s Top Five Albums of 2013

    2007-05-25-albums

    BZ’s Top Five Albums of 2013

    Without music, life would be a mistake.
    -Nietzsche

    I love music. Neurotically so. I don’t love what I’m “supposed” to love, I love what I love.
    Since I was thirteen people have been telling me to turn it down. Mostly I don’t.

    I’m listening to Neil Young, I gotta turn up the sound
    Someone’s always yelling, turn it down

    -Bob Dylan, Highlands

    So with little explanation and no apology here are my top five albums of 2013…

    BZ

    (The artwork is 2500 albums.)

    Read more

  • Halloween: A Search For The Sacred

    the-bored-gargoyle-of-notre-dame-2

    Halloween: A Search For The Sacred
    Brian Zahnd

    It’s Halloween. The season of ghosts and goblins, haunted houses and horror movies. The modern observance of Halloween seems, for the most part, to be an innocent celebration of the strange joy of being scared. There’s no doubt that a significant number of us do enjoy being scared as a form of entertainment. How else do you explain that Stephen King has sold half a billion books?! But why? Why do we like to be scared? I think it has to do with a search for what is most missing in the modern world: the sacred. We like being scared because we are so very secular.

    When modernity came of age it banished the sense of the sacred. Empiricism, materialism, positivism had won the day. Science was now the high priest that would answer all questions and religion was merely the superstition of the hopelessly naïve. We found ourselves in a world without God or gods, a world beyond good and evil (as Nietzsche said), a world without angels and demons. Religion was but hucksterism and nothing was truly sacred anymore. Bob Dylan captured it well when he said,
    Read more

  • Oh Mercy

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    OH MERCY
    by Brian Zahnd

    Be perfect as your Father is perfect. —Jesus (Matthew 5:48)

    Be merciful as your Father is merciful. —Jesus (Luke 6:36)

    Let’s keep this short and sweet. To the point.

    The Gospel writers Matthew and Luke give us two different accounts of the Sermon on the Mount.

    In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says his disciples are to turn the other cheek, go the second mile, and love their enemies, and they are to do so for this reason: So they can be like their Father who is perfect/merciful.

    The Gospel writers use different words.

    What Jesus in Matthew calls perfection, Jesus in Luke calls mercy. Read more

  • Cannonball Jesus

    Easter_004

    Cannonball Jesus
    by Brian Zahnd

     “You cannot bear to hear my word.” -Jesus (The Gospel of John)

    “Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” -T.S. Eliot (The Four Quartets)

    “Ya can’t look at much, can ya man?”
    -Bob Dylan (Visions of Johanna)

    It seems to me that what we really want is a tame Jesus, a domesticated Christ.

    We want a Jesus who will “save our soul” — not so much now, but later on.

    We want a Savior who tweaks the status quo, making slight improvements on the basic scheme of things.

    We want a divine “life coach” to make us winners in The Game. Read more