I blog about religious issues, so it might seem counter-intuitive to post something against religion. But no matter what good comes from religious people, and no matter how much I think about God-related stuff, I’ve spent most of my adult life thinking Blaise Pascal was right to say much strongly motivated evil stems from religious convictions. (Pascal had more depth, breadth, and nuance in his thinking than his famous Wager, taken by itself, might suggest.)
In our time, Bob Dylan seems to have the same idea as Pascal:
“Religion is a dirty word. It doesn’t mean anything. Coca-Cola is a religion. Oil and steel are a religion. In the name of religion, people have been raped, killed, and defiled. Today’s religion is tomorrow’s bondage,” Dylan once said, as quoted in Dylan: The Biography by Dennis McDougal.
h/t to J.D. Landis
Please also see Bob Dylan on Morality.
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David Hadju, blogging on Bob Dylan for The New Republic:
Dylan … has written “Tomorrow Is a Long Time,” “Visions of Johanna,” “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” “Idiot Wind,” and enough other works of fiery imagination to just about justify his progressive canonization. A Nobel Prize seems almost inevitable, if not obligatory, now. Dylan’s output, in its vastness and breadth, is not consistently brilliant; for every ten songs as good as “Boots of Spanish Leather,” there’s one “Wiggle Wiggle.” Still, his body of work, taken as a whole, is clearly deep and rich enough to meet the elastic standards of the Nobel academy.
Ponder, and read the rest of Bob Dylan and the Benevolent Tyranny of Nobel Competition.
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The book is The Ballad of Bob Dylan: A Portrait by Daniel Mark Epstein.
Read Michael Astor’s review for the Associated Press.
Get the book here, or buy it for Kindle here.
Read this fascinating review of Bob Dylan: Prophet, Mystic, Poet by Seth Rogovoy. Here’s an excerpt (dealing with a broader definition of “God”) from the review by Ron Rosenbaum in Jewish Review of Books:
Certainly, we know Dylan has remained preoccupied with God. There’s an excerpt in Rogovoy’s book from an interview with Dylan (this was in the late ’70s and the interviewer, as it happens, was me). Dylan was discussing the ills of the modern world and, in his inscrutable deadpan, suddenly mentioned that he had seen a Time magazine cover that asked “Is God dead”?
“Would you think that was a responsible thing to do?” Dylan asked me, with an emphasis on responsible that made it either genuinely indignant or joking—or both. Then he added “What does God think of that? I mean if you were God, how would you like to see that written about yourself?” It was funny, Dylan trying to feel God’s pain, asking the primal Dylan question of God: how does it feel?
I suspect it would be “Trust Yourself” from Empire Burlesque —
Don’t trust me to show you love
When my love may be only lust
If you want somebody you can trust, trust yourself.
From Douglas Brinkley’s interview with Bob Dylan is the May 11 edition of Rolling Stone:
‘Because it is Easter weekend, I decide to push him on the importance of Christian Scripture in his life. “Well, sure,” he says, “that and those other first books I read were really biblical stuff. Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Ben-Hur. Those were the books that I remembered reading and finding religion in. Later on, I started reading over and over again Plutarch and his Roman Lives. And the writers Cicero, Tacitus and Marcus Aurelius…. I like the morality thing. People talk about it all the time. Some say you can’t legislate morality. Well, maybe not. But morality has gotten kind of a bad rap. In Roman thought, morality is broken down into basically four things. Wisdom, Justice, Moderation and Courage. All these are the elements that would make up the depth of a person’s morality. And then that would dictate the types of behavior patterns you’d use to respond in any given situation. I don’t look at morality as a religious thing.”‘
Posted in Bob Dylan, music, philosophy, religion, Stoics
Tagged Bob Dylan, books, Marcus Aurelius, morality, philosophy, Plutarch, religion, Stoics, Tacitus