from Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, Vol. 1, his observation about the writing of 19th-century Prussian military strategist Claus von Clausewitz:
“Clausewitz’ book (Vom Kriege, ‘On War,’ 1832, which Dylan read as a young man getting his start in music) seemed outdated, but there’s a lot in it that’s real, and you can understand a lot about conventional life … by reading it. When he claims that politics has taken the place of morality and politics is brute force, he’s not playing. You have to believe it. You do exactly as you’re told, whoever you are. Knuckle under or you’re dead. Don’t give me any of that jazz about hope or nonsense about righteousness. Let’s get down to brass tacks. There isn’t any moral order. You can forget that. Morality has nothing in common with politics. It’s not there to transgress. It’s either high ground or low ground. This is the way the world is and nothing’s gonna change it. It’s a crazy, mixed up world and you have to look it right in the eye. Clausewitz in some ways is a prophet. … If you think you’re a dreamer, you can read this stuff and realize you’re not even capable of dreaming. Dreaming is dangerous.”
I don’t think that’s a cynical thing to believe; I think it’s true. I think it’s how the world really works. Politics IS brute force. There is NO intrinsic moral order in human society. Dreaming IS dangerous. … That’s why I follow Jesus. He didn’t teach or model cuteness or sweetness or pollyanna naïveté. He taught and modeled clarity of thought & intention, and action meant to bring about change in people and in the structures imprisoning them.
Dylan says about himself, “There was nothing easygoing about the folk songs I sang. They weren’t friendly or ripe with mellowness. They didn’t come gently to the shore. I guess you could say they weren’t commercial. Not only that, my style was too erratic and hard to pigeonhole for the radio, and songs, to me, were more important than just light entertainment. They were my preceptor and guide into some altered consciousness of reality, some different republic, some liberated republic.”
That’s what Jesus’ message is like, for me.
I believe that if my Jesus-following suits commercial radio, I’m doing it wrong.