Dylan ‘suffered’ for his religious beliefs

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Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

He’s a music legend, a cultural touchstone, an American icon.

But Bob Dylan was also one of the most controversial figures in the entertainment industry after he announced his faith in Jesus Christ. And as the author of a comprehensive history of Dylan’s spiritual life observed, he “suffered” for his faith.

Scott Marshall, author of the book “Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life,” recently discussed Dylan’s extraordinary journey with talk show host Brian Sussman.

Sussman, himself an author who wrote the book “Eco-Tyranny,” praised “Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life” as “so well researched.”

“Has there ever been a pop culture figure whose spirituality has been under the microscope more than Bob Dylan?” Sussman asked.

“I’d say yes and no,” responded Marshall. “[A]t least in the English language there have been at least 250 books published on Bob Dylan. So in some ways, if you were to track the number of books that tracked his religion or his spirituality, it’s actually a significant minority. However, like you point out, there’s definitely been speculation about where he is now or where he was a certain point. [A response] Dylan gave in the mid-80s, somebody asked him what his religious views were and he responded, ‘How come nobody asks Billy Joel these kinds of questions?’”

“But that’s true,” said Sussman, laughing. “Why aren’t these other musical icons asked these same questions?”

Marshall said Dylan is asked such questions because spirituality has always deeply influenced his art.

“I think his lyrics, you know, for him to write a song like ‘With God On Our Side’ at age 21, just examine the lyrics!” he exclaimed. “It’s pretty mind-boggling the things he was grappling with as a 21-year-old-kid. Just a few years ago, in his 70s, he was interviewed and he mentioned how he’s always been drawn to spiritual songs. He actually referenced ‘Amazing Grace,’ which is obviously a big cultural song, but he referenced specifically the lyric ‘that saved a wretch like me.’

“Just looking at his lyrics [which reference] the wretchedness we can observe in the world around us, from the beginning. And at some point, he began seeing that within himself on his spiritual journey. Again, this book, ‘Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life,’ gives people a different way to look at Bob Dylan, at his life and career, and arguably a pretty significant angle as far as what makes him tick.”

The remarkable spiritual journey of an American icon. You’ll never look at American pop culture the same way again. Discover the true story behind one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. “Bob Dylan: The Spiritual Life” is available now at the WND Superstore.

Sussman, himself a Messianic Jew, argues Dylan almost ruined his career when, as an ethnic Jew, he proclaimed his faith in Jesus Christ. As Sussman noted, Dylan was actually protested in San Francisco.

Marshall recalled the late Hunter Thompson, a counter-culture icon, saying of Dylan’s profession of faith, “We’re just going to have to figure out what to do with this,” an implicit admission of what a powerful challenge Dylan’s Christian beliefs were to the cultural order.

“It was a shock,” Marshall said. “Here he was with almost two decades of songs, very famous songs, and then for a season, for a six-month period, he only sang these newly written [Gospel] songs.”

However, Marshall says much of Dylan’s supposed “transformation” is misinterpreted.

“I would say, and it is interesting too, I would say it is a mistake to say he ‘converted’ from Judaism to Christianity,” argued Marshall. “There’s a significant minority of folks around the world who believe Jesus to be both God and Messiah. When Dylan had his experience, the album ‘Saved,’ from 1980, it includes a scriptural passage from the Hebrew Scriptures. And during the so-called gospel tours, Dylan, normally not too chatty … during one rap between songs he’s talking about the origins of the Passover. And this is in the midst of him singing these newly written gospel songs.”

Marshall says his book fills a void by fully and comprehensively exploring the theological importance of an American icon and showing how spirituality has always been central to Dylan’s art.

“The book is unique in that there is no book that focuses on his spiritual journey from start to finish,” he said. “I begin with the early days of his career in the early 1960s as well as some backdrop in terms of where he grew up and all the way to the present day. Just looking at how spirituality has been reflected in his lyrics since the very beginning. It’s basically a mistake to think he had some kind of a religious period from, say, the late ’70s to the early ’80s. That’s not really accurate in terms of his career.”

Sussman fully endorsed the book, saying, “You’ve really given us a great idea of what his spirituality is all about, and that’s why I’m highly recommending the book.”

But Marshall said even as fans learn about Dylan’s history and beliefs, it is important to remember the price Dylan paid for publicly expressing his faith.

“He definitely suffered for it and in ways that no one except him and people who were close to him know,” he said. “He suffered, professionally and personally, for what he spoke and wrote.”

The remarkable spiritual journey of an American icon. You’ll never look at American pop culture the same way again. Discover the true story behind one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. “Bob Dylan: The Spiritual Life” is available now at the WND Superstore.

Source:: World Net Daily Faith

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