Home Christian News Bob Dylan: ‘I’m a Religious Person’ and ‘Read the Scriptures a Lot’

Bob Dylan: ‘I’m a Religious Person’ and ‘Read the Scriptures a Lot’

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Raph_PH, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bob Dylan recently shared insights about his faith and his longtime love for sacred music. The 81-year-old, whose awards include the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, rarely grants interviews. But he answered 20 questions from the Wall Street Journal regarding his new book, “The Philosophy of Modern Song.”

In those pages, which one reporter describes as Dylan’s true autobiography, the musician lists and reflects on 66 of the greatest songs from the recording era. (Only four are by women, which has prompted some criticism.) Dylan’s essays, according to publicity materials, “are ostensibly about music [but] really meditations and reflections on the human condition.”

Bob Dylan Describes His Religious Beliefs

When asked about his own technology and relaxation habits, Dylan tells the Wall Street Journal he doesn’t spend much time on screens and never watches “anything foul-smelling or evil.” He explains, “I’m a religious person. I read the scriptures a lot, meditate and pray, light candles in church. I believe in damnation and salvation, as well as predestination. The Five Books of Moses, Pauline Epistles, Invocation of the Saints, all of it.”

Dylan also says his “first love,” musically speaking, is “sacred music, church music, ensemble singing.”

Born Robert Zimmerman in 1941, he was raised Jewish but had a public conversion to evangelical Christianity in the 1970s. (The Vineyard School of Discipleship played a key role.) By the mid-’80s, he was pushing back against the “born again” label.

In 1997, Dylan told a reporter, “I find the religiosity and philosophy in the music. I don’t find it anywhere else. Songs…that’s my religion. I don’t adhere to rabbis, preachers, evangelists, all of that. I’ve learned more from the songs than I’ve learned from any of this kind of entity. The songs are my lexicon. I believe the songs.”

Bob Dylan Muses on Creativity, Impacts of Technology

In his other responses, the artist shares thoughts about the creative process and technology’s role. Modernity “can hamper creativity, or it can lend a helping hand and be an assistant. Creative power can be dammed up or forestalled by everyday life, ordinary life, life in the squirrel cage,” he says. “Technology is like sorcery, it’s a magic show, conjures up spirits, it’s an extension of our body, like the wheel is an extension of our foot. But it might be the final nail driven into the coffin of civilization; we just don’t know.”

Technology and streaming have led to a “sameness” in music, Dylan adds. “We seem to be in a vacuum. Everything’s become too smooth and painless… You need a solar x-ray detector just to find somebody’s heart, see if they have one.”