We got back home today from our vacation on Panama City Beach. We had a great trip, although I contracted pink eye. We were driving to supper Thursday night and I felt like there was sand or something in my eye. By the end of dinner it was red and swollen. Friday morning I woke up and it was matted shut with gunk. After two days of eye drops (thanks to a call-in from my eye doctor, Ken Moates), I am doing much better. No swelling. No gunk. No redness (or pinkness).
I read two books while at the beach. Restless Pilgrim: The Spiritual Journey of Bob Dylan by Scott Marshall and Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The Bonhoeffer book will find its way into my sermon tomorrow morning. I am preaching on “Doing Life Together.” I had long “conversations” with Bonhoeffer while on the beach on the subject of Christian community.
Marshall’s book on Dylan’s spiritual journey was a great read. It continued my headlong plunge into the enigma who is Bob Dylan. Marshall’s research–including firsthand interviews with people who have known Dylan personally over the years–confirms what I believed about Dylan all along.
1) Dylan is a Christian.
2) Dylan will remain an illusive mystery.
Bob Dylan had a powerful and private encounter with Jesus in 1979. The encounter produced two so-called “gospel” albums. Slow Train Coming (1979) and Saved (1980). During a 1979 concert, Dylan said,
I told you “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” and they did. I said the answer was “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and it was. I’m telling you now Jesus is coming back, and He is. And there is no other way of salvation…There’s only one way to believe, there’s only one Way, the Truth and the Life. It took a long time to figure that ou bevore it did come to me and I hope it doesn’t take you that long (Marshall, Restless Pilgrim, pg. 30).
People question whether or not Dylan left the faith because he has remained connected to his Jewish roots, but for Dylan, Jesus is Yeshua Ha’ Mashia…Jesus the Messiah. He did not return to his Jewish roots after “experimenting” with the Christian faith. He never left his Jewish roots. His Jewish faith led him to Jesus. Marshall does a great job making this point.
Others question Dylan’s faith because he isn’t as preachy as he was in that 1979-1981 time period. Marshall makes the argument that Dylan feels like he has made his statement of faith and he doesn’t need to preach it in every song. Marshall quotes Dylan from a 1980 LA Times article saying, “I’ve made my statement, and I don’t think I could make it any better than in some of those songs. Once I’ve said what I need to say in a song, that’s it. I don’t want to repeat myself” (pg. 56).
In “Thunder on the Mountain” Dylan sings:
I did all I could and I did it right there and then
I’ve already confessed – no need to confess again.
He doesn’t preach from the stage like he did in 1979, but he still sings many of his gospel songs like “I Believe in You,” “Gonna Serve Somebody,” “In the Garden,” “Saving Grace,” etc. Dylan is a believer for sure and “some sweet day (he’ll) stand beside (his) king.”
We had a great a great time at the beach with our friends Pam and Kenny Philips. We made our second annual trip to Shell Island. Our friends knew a guy who had a boat at the beach and he took us out to the island. Shell Island is as pristine and beautiful as a Caribbean island. There are no buildings…no condos…no gas stations…just sand, winds and waves. We love it there. Here are some pictures of the family on Shell Island–