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caraher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 02:15 PM
Original message
Bob Dylan: Conservative Christian
From the man who brought us "George W. Bush was a successful businessman" (in his execrable book American Providence - and yes, I did read it - my eyes are still bleeding from that trauma!) and "Jesus was a vegetarian" comes word that Dylan must have been pranking us with "The Times They Are A-Changin'."

A recent article in the Crawfordsville Journal Review (motto: "more literate than The Paper of Montgomery County") plugs Wabash professor of religion Stephen Webb's latest book. The article reminded me just how much I missed Professor Webb's use of all-campus email messages to defend the delicate minds of young men from the pitiless assault of "gender feminism*" Wabash College inflicts upon its helpless, captive, all-male student audience. Which is... about as much as I miss the blinding pain of a migraine headache.

The Journal Review article trots out some of St. Stephen's favorite tropes about liberal intolerance and willful ignorance of conservative thought. I'm certain his story about certain liberal faculty telling him they do not read his work in order to remain friends is true. Unconstrained by a need to preserve a friendship (I had only brief contact with him during my time teaching at Wabash) I read American Providence fully aware that I would disagree with virtually every conclusion he reached. I was drawn by a combination of the kind of intellectual adventurousness Webb tells us "liberals" lack (the willingness to read and evaluate fairly the arguments of conservatives) and the morbid curiosity that makes rubbernecking irresistible to motorists. The wreckage did not disappoint my inner voyeur, but the profoundly anti-intellectual gist of Webb's prose truly amazed me. My expectation was that there would be some effort at persuasion, using valid logic and possibly controversial facts, but instead I found a series of proclamations of the superiority of the average Red State evangelical Christian's intuition over reason. Because he tells us I and other non-believers in American exceptionalism lack some spiritual faculty these folks possess, we evidently must simply accept Webb's word about his "providential" reading of American history and destiny in very much the same way the blind simply must trust the testimony of the sighted on the existence of colors. I read a lot in the Wabash Commentary about Webb's brilliance, but in what I've read the chief weapon in his rhetorical arsenal is confident assertion.

I'm no Dylan scholar and yes, I am well-aware of his conversion just over 25 years ago. But I suspect the book is driven more by Webb's need to identify everything he values with conservatism and/or Christianity than with whatever clues lie embedded in Dylan's lyrics, life, words and actions.

* For some reason, conservative faculty at Wabash appear incapable of using the word "feminism" without placing the word "gender" in front of it...
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shain from kane Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 02:26 PM
Response to Original message
1. "This machine kills fascists." From Dylan's idol, Woodrow Wilson Guthrie.
Edited on Fri Dec-22-06 02:30 PM by shain from kane
Somehow seems appropriate when talking about Christian conservatives. Compassionate conservatives. Neo-conservatives.

From Wikipedia ---

"Guthrie was born in Okemah, Oklahoma. His parents named him after Woodrow Wilson, who was elected president in the 1912 election the same year Guthrie was born. At age 19, he left home for Texas, where he met and married his first wife, Mary Jennings, with whom he had three children. He used his musical talents to earn money as a street musician and by doing small gigs. He left Texas and his family with the coming of the Dust Bowl era, following the Okies to California. The poverty he saw on these early trips affected him greatly, and many of his songs are concerned with the conditions faced by the working class. He frequently donated money made from his music gigs and busking to help various peoples and causes. A lifelong socialist and trade unionist, he also contributed a regular column, "Woody Sez," to the Daily Worker and People's World newspapers. He was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or Wobblies) for some years. Conservatives frequently criticized the ostensibly Communist leanings of Guthrie's work; although he was never actually a member of the party, he did express sympathy towards the party many times, which was not unusual among 1930s folk singers."

Edited to add reference.
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LisaM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 02:29 PM
Response to Original message
2. Well, but what about THIS?

So now as I'm leavin'
I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin'
Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God's on our side
He'll stop the next war.

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shain from kane Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 02:35 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. Here's another one. "Masters of War" I can't believe that an angry young Dylan
Edited on Fri Dec-22-06 02:37 PM by shain from kane
would have changed his views through the years, unless he was infected with the soy bomb.

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead
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GeorgeGist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 02:31 PM
Response to Original message
3. Holding onto the past...
no matter how false it proved to be, makes circular logic irrefutable. Ergo Christianity rocks on.
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jwirr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 02:31 PM
Response to Original message
4. He was raised in Minnesota before there were idiot fundie churches
in this area. If he converted that does not mean that he fell for all of their bull. I haven't listened to his latest albums but hasn't he continued to attend liberal functions? And who really cares?
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madaboutharry Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 02:39 PM
Response to Original message
6. This guy is full of it.
Joan Baez spoke of Dylan's liberal political bend in "No Direction Home." He was not a conservative. In addition, Dylan has returned to Judaism. Sometime in the 90's he became friends with a Lubavitcher Rabbi in Minnesota and Dylan has now returned to his Judiasm. He often attends Yom Kippur services at an Orthodox synagogue in L.A.
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A-Schwarzenegger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 02:45 PM
Response to Original message
7. If Dylan didn't exist, somebody would have to invent him.
I always get a kick out of folks trying to remake Dylan in their own image. Dylan is exactly what he always said he is sometimes, "a song and dance man."
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shain from kane Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 02:59 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. He sings it, but can you really dance to it? There are some, not me, that claim that he can't sing.
Edited on Fri Dec-22-06 03:00 PM by shain from kane
I have always said that you should accept his voice as the person that created and interpreted his own songs. Although I love many of the covers of his songs, his original versions are the standard.
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La_Fourmi_Rouge Donating Member (878 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 02:57 PM
Response to Original message
8. Dylan did do Gospel!

There is a city of gold
Far from the rat race
Eat's at you're soul
Far from the confusion
And these bars that hold
There is a city of gold

There is a country of light
Raised up in glory
Angels wear white
Never know darkness
Never know night
There is a country of light

There is a city of love
Far from this world
And the stuff dreams are made of
Beyond the sunset
Stars high above
There is a city of love

There is a city of hope
Don't need no doctor
Don't need no dope
I'm ready and willing
Throw down the rope
There is a city of hope

There is a city of gold
Far from this madness
And the bars that hold
Peace from your spirit
Rest from your soul
There is a city of gold

The Dixie Hummingbirds did a great cover of this tune.
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AnnieBW Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-22-06 09:13 PM
Response to Original message
10. My Husband Is a Wabash Grad
And if this is the kind of CRAP that they're indoctrinating Wabash men with these days, they can take their constant appeals for money and shove them!
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caraher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-23-06 12:15 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. Most of the faculty are reasonable people...
There are just a few like Webb who egg on the worst of the reactionary students.
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