December 1, 2008
Exhuming Bob XVII
A Napoleon In Rags
Hoffman, Michael, Judaism Discovered, 2008
Jay Michaelson: http://www.nextbook.org/cultural/feature.html?id=1725
Cornyn, Sean: http://www.rightwingbob.com/weblog/archives/1850
How does the ‘Napoleon in rags’, Bob Dylan, conceive himself in his role as a reformer of Judaism because that is what Messianic Judaism is. What does this believer in the Bible as the literal word of God see as his mission? One should note that as Dylan places the Bible above the Talmud he is a Rabbinical Judaic outlaw as Michaelson says. Did Dylan really just wake up one morning and say: ‘Oh L-ordy, I have crashed. I need the crutch of Jesus’ as Michaelson, Cornyn and Hartley suggest or was there an ulterior motive? Perhaps a conceptual idea if not a well thought out program.
Jay Michaelson, claiming to be a ‘secular’ Jew takes exception to ‘Messianic’ Judaism. What exactly is Messianic Judaism? The notion may take many readers by surprise; those who are only familiar with mainstream Judaism and Christianity. Most non-Jews don’t realize that Judaism has as many sects as Christianity.
For instance Dylan’s stance smacks of Karaitism. the Karaites are a Jewish sect that denies the authority of the oral law or Talmud and hence the Rabbis. They are outlawed as a cult. Messianic Jews accepting Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and hence the New Dispensation are and always have been by definition Outlaws, being outside THE LAW.
The Rabbi David M. Hargis of The Messianic Bureau International is quoted by Michael Hoffman in his Judaism Discovered p. 844:
“Messianic Judaism” is a means for subverting Christianity by incorporated reverence for the rabbis who are heirs to the religion and customs of the ancient Pharisees as recorded in the Talmud. The claim of Messianic Judaism is that historic Christianity is “pagan” and imbued with “gentile culture” needlessly alienating and offending Judaics who might otherwise convert to Jesus Christ. Their “solution” is to fashion a supposedly pagan-free form of Judaism that allegedly believes in Jesus. ‘We believe it would be the best and is ultiamtely necessary for all Jewish people to know their Messiah Yeshua, but we do not believe that God has called any Jewish person to become Gentile or Western Christian in custom. Rather, we believe it would be best and is ultimately necessary for Christianity to remove its pagan influences and return to the roots of Judaism, that is, to return to the way of Yeshua as He walked by example and set forth in His entire Word….However this does not mean that Modern Rabbinical Judaism does not have truth within it.”- Rabbi David M. Hargis & Messianic Bureau International, “Basics of Messianic Judaism.” www.messianic.com/articles/basics.htm (as of Feb. 25, 2008; it may be altered after that date.)
So it would appear that Messianic Jews want a return to pre-Pauline Jesusism deleting all non-Jewish influences in Christianity. These would include Platonic influences, the Dionysian Kyrios Christos, the Persian influences, Gnostic influences and the Egyptian influence that made Mary the Mother of God as patterned after Isis. In other words the Messianic Jewish Jesus would be one that Christians would scarcely recognize.
As can be seen by the title of Rabbi Hargis’ organization that it is an international one; indeed, Dylan’s outfit Jews For Jesus is international in scope. You can call that a conspiracy if you like as Cronyn and Hartley do.
It would be fair to assume that Mitch Glaser’s and Al Kasha’s organization, Jews For Jesus, also an international organization, is affiliated to, or at least is associated with the Messianic Bueau International in some way or other as like minded organizations. We know for certain that Dylan was and is associated with Jews For Jesus. A purpose of Messianic Judaism is to strip Western, that is to say “pagan” influences from the figure of Jesus returning him to the status of ‘pure’ Semite.
That is to say that the Greek cult of Kyrios Christos is to be abstracted so that Jesus is no longer The Christ. So the purpose of Messianic Judaism is to take back Jesus from the Christians while reuniting Messianic and Rabbinical Judaism. The messianics are willing to concede that there is some ‘truth’ in Rabbinical Judaism.
Dylan was not merely preaching Messianic Judaism to Jews but whiffing it past Christians also. It is true that he thinned out his audience rather quickly having apparently misjudged the religiosity of his following. As a Jew of Orthodox sensibiities Dylan, in his mission as Messiah, or King of the Jews as Michaelson styles him, would have to learn something of Christian beliefs and sensibilities. It would seem likely then that he approached Dwyer of the Vineyard Fellowship to pick his brains. The question then was Dylan exploited by the Christians as Michaelson believes or was Dylan exploiting the Christians?
A question then arises as to whether Dylan wasn’t ‘speaking falsely now’ when he said ‘he never wanted to be the voice of his generation, and he certainly never asked to be ‘King of the Jews’ or a vessel for our hopes and dreams.’ Can we believe the denial of this self-styled ‘Napoleon in rags?’ If Napoleon wasn’t a ‘leader’ who demanded following who has ever been? How mistaken could his contemporaries have been in taking this ‘Napoleon in rags’ as their spokesman. Can Dylan have changed direction in 1979 when he wanted to become a great Messianic spokesman leading his people to some Promised Land? What else could have been his intent in becoming a Jim Jones style religious preacher? ‘There’s something happening here and you don’t know what is, do you Mr. Jones?’
Dylan definitely confuses Michaelson who opines ‘his latest incarnation, as a mustachioed journeyman musician, is made of equal parts of authenticity and con’ and ‘Dylan, who always seems to be in on the con when he’s not perpetrating one himself.’ Indeed. Dylan does project a duplicitous character; speaks out of both sides of his mouth at once. Or once again as Michaelson understands it: ‘…like him, I think I can understand the appeal of authentic religious experience in the context of superficiality and doublespeak.’ Uh huh!
Thus Dylan’s double edged mission was and is to strip ‘Christians’ of their ‘pagan’ sensibilities- i.e. Western culture- while converting Rabbinical Jews to Messianism or Jesus. So, whether Cornyn and Hartley believe it or not, yes, there is a ‘Great Bob Dylan Conspiracy.’
It is embarrassing that at this late date in the evolution of human consciousness that Bob Dylan believes the Bible to be the literal word of God. Consciousness has evolved to that level that the sham of the Religious Consciousness should be apparent to all. Both Science and Communism have been proclaiming the falsity of the religion and extreme Jewish nationalism that Dylan affects for a hundred years or more.
I certainly have to reject the Religious Consciousness. As such I feel defrauded by Dylan’s early career and my attachment to it. Dylan willfully misrepresented himself, doublespeak, and cheated me as well as all his fans who thought he was enlightened. I was misled.
Sorry Bob, but you’re a fraud.
November 27, 2008
Exhuming Bob XVI
Bob Dylan’s Dream or…Nightmare?
I’ll let you be in my dream if you’ll let me be in yours.
When Dylan wrote those words, was he sincere or was it just part of the con? I was recently asked not ot contribute anymore to expectingrain.com by person or persons unknown. The webmaster refuses to identify he or them to me. Too ashamed to let their names by known, I guess. Or chicken. I know I’d rather not be known as a rasty, nasty censor.
I was ejected for voicing pretty much the same sentiments as Jay Michaelson does in the above referenced review of Joel Gilbert’s The Jesus Years. Maybe the difference between Jay and me is that I don’t think Dylan is such a mysterious elusive guy. Anybody with a little Freud under his belt has got Dylan pinned.
He suffers from a fairly severe depression while being very emasculated. He is so emasculated he can’t even fix on an identity for himself. His natal Bobby Zimmerman failed him so he apparently attempted to become Elston Gunn which he wasn’t able to sustain so he then became Bob Dylan which also became too much of a burden to him so he threw that identity up for grabs saying anybody can be Bob Dylan who wants it, then he became Masked and Anonymous eschewing any identity whatever. An empty suit.
If that isn’t clear to you then there is no reason for you to tackle Freud or psychology now.
So, what was the conflict? Duh. Could it have been that between his Jewish upbringing and his Christian milieu? Gosh, I don’t know, do you? Is there anything in his subsequent history that would suggest such a conflict? Let me think. I think there is, therefore I am.
Is there a conflict in the minds of Dylan’s disciples. Well, now there we’re on firm gound. Just listen to Jay:
There’s a telling moment in Joel Gilbert’s new (?) documentary Inside Bob Dylan’s Jesus Years: an interviewee says that when Dylan became a born again Christian, he went, in two short years, from being an American Jewish hero to the “greatest apostate of the twentieth century”… But worse, because Dylan embodied a specific kind of liberal American Jewish hope that someone would speak truth to power, and that the world would listen. These were very Jewish dreams, and Dylan fulfilled them for awhile.
Damn, then it wasn’t anything I said as the messenger. I guess it was just not being Jewish that I shouldn’t have attempted to deliver the message. Right message, wrong face. Gee, I guess I can’t be in Dylan’s dream because I’m not Jewish. Whatever happened to One World, One Dream? Everybody being brothers? The Global Village? They didn’t think there wouldn’t be variations on the theme I hope. Well, no matter Dylan and his People can still be in my dream. I’m inclusive.
But Jay and his People themselves apparently feel excluded from Dylan’s dream also. Jay says:
Dylan never wanted to be the voice of his generation, and he certainly never asked to be King of the Jews or vessel for our hopes and dreams. (My italics.)
Wow! King of the Jews, Jesus Christ. I may have thought it but I didn’t have the cojones (My italics), Jay does and actually says it. Jesus, I’d be running for my life let alone being kicked off expectingrain.com.
Jay and his People just can’t seem to get it. Dylan never became a Christian, he became a Jew For Jesus. Jay even has the answer before him but his religious bigotry won’t let him see it: “Why did Dylan…record two religious albums proclaiming the word of G-d?” There you have it Jay. Dylan was conflating Jesus and God into one and then substituting G-d for Jes-s. Jesus is Christian, God is Jewish. Duh. For Christ’s sake, c’mon Jay.
Well enough of that. I’m sure you can’t stop laughing. Jay is supposed to be reviewing Gilbert’s documentary. Michaelson; is not either well read on his subject of Dylan or well researched. Maybe he smoked enough dope that he thinks he automatically knows everything about Dylan. I’ve seen it happen.
As far as the film goes, it may not be a particularly good movie but then it is a documentary and has to judged differently. As documentaries go I found it more than satisfactory. The clip art was an unusual special effect but I actually found some of them humorous. I wouldn’t have done it that way myself but Gilbert can do as he pleases and did.
Gilbert doesn’t mysteriously look like Dylan as Jay says. There is no mystery involved. Gilbert is trying to clone himself as Dylan; does a good job. He has a good understanding of his subject, after all he’s trying to be Dylan. His selection of subjects provided enough penetrating information that I have to think they were well chosen. Perhaps they were all that Gilbert could get, in which case the film maker drew them out well. Rob Stoner was the key. He was intelligent, understanding, and well informed- he knew what he was talking about. Kasha and Glaser gave you all the information you needed to understand the Christian-Jews For Jesus scam. Come on Jay, open your eyes.
Weberman has been saying that Dylan was a heroin addict since Christ was a baby. At least from 1964. It may have been true, I don’t know, but it didn’t have anything to do with Dylan’s crash. If Jay knew anything about his subject he would realize that the divorce was the key. Dylan had finally, after a life time of trying, become so defiled that he had to turn to God/Jesus to lead him back. I hope he found the way. Freud again.
For Michaelson who can’t separate his Jewishness from Dylan the problem is a paramount betrayal because ‘We’re (Jews) scarred and traumatized by two thousand years of Christian hegemony… So, there you have it, the cat’s out of the bag, couldn’t have said it better myself. Jay and his People thought Dylan was the Messiach who was going to establish a Jewish hegemony over ‘Christians,’ ‘speak the truth to power.’
I’m not so sure Dylan won’t still try but that has little to do with the documentary. The con and exploitation was not that of Dwyer on Dylan but Dylan over the Vineyard Fellowship. Dylan was using them to try to reach his fellow Jews in his faith of Jews For Jesus. As we are never tired of being told: Jes-s was a J-w. Case closed. Forget hegemony.
In summation Gilbert, in my estimation, did an excellent job for what he set out to do. I was properly instructed and…I got it. But, I was still kicked out of Dylan’s dream. He conned me too. What a nightmare!
November 17, 2008
Exhuming Bob 14:
The LAW And Bob Dylan
Stephen Hazan Arnoff wrote the aove referenced Forward article titled: Jesus, Bob: To Live Outside The LAW You Must Be Honest: Dylan’s Born Again Years Documented.
Mr. Arnoff is very difficult to follow. Kern writing in the comments to Mr. Arnoff’s article puts it succinctly: Mr. Arnoff you have written a lot of words, but after reading them all, I have no idea what you are saying.
I think part of the problem is cross cultural references. By living outside the LAW Mr. Arnoff means Talmudic Law and not the legal code of the United States of America. Mr. Arnoff is what I suppose he would call a ‘secular’ Jew reviewing ‘messianic’ Jews in the Jewish Forward, a ‘secular’ Jewish web magazine.
I have no idea what Kern is but as a goy I have to read standard English words and try to put them into trans-cultural contexts. If I make a mistake or two I hope I may be forgiven.
I perceive the title To Live Outside The Law You Must Be Honest to mean that Dylan is living his life outside the Jewish Law rather than an outlaw to the US legal code. This is a construction of Dylan’s line I hadn’t made but it may very well be accurate. Depending on whether the line from ‘Absolutely Sweet Marie’, read, possibly, Mary, is addressed to his fellow Jews explaining a seeming dalliance with goyish ways or in some sort of general ‘poetic’ license referring to the US legal code or societal mores, Arnoff’s understanding of the line may be correct. As we are coming to realize Dylan’s religious conflicts appear to dominate his work. After all anyone who believes the Bible is the actual word of God is living a religious delusion. After he had established himself by 1966 his mother proudly informed us that Dylan had an open bible on a stand in his living room, of all places to which he hopped up regularly to check for references. There is a C&W connection here in the song, If Jesus Came To Your House. The rhetorical question was would he find a Bible open on the table or a Playboy Magazine. Dylan could answer affirmitively: The Bible. That’s what his mother proudly announced.
While Mr. Arnoff proudly says that Dylan was busy trashing goy, what he calls Christian, culture he fails to note that Dylan was no less disrepectful of traditional Jewish ways. But that brings us to what Mr. Arnoff’s ostensible intent is, that is, to review Joel Gilbert’s film: The Gospel Years.
As I understand it, Mr. Gilbert, who is Jewish trying to be a Dylan clone, made a four hour film entitled Rolling Thunder And The Gospel Years from which he abstracted the final two hours and has reissued it in the two hour version. Acting on that information I obtained the four hour DVD while I haven’t seen the two hour film, if it is different. I’m assuming that it is identical to the four hour version.
As I am not a Jew my sensibilities are different than Mr. Arnoff’s who is ensconced within the Jewish faith, culture, nation or by whatever name it is going by this week. Mr. Arnoff, ignoring Dylan’s early upbringing, see my above referenced essay Fit 4, Bob As Messiah, and psychology assumes that Dylan abandoned Judaism and turned to Christianity because:
…deep pain drives deep “witnessing” in the realm of born again Christian acolytes; that the tumult of drugs, social and political burnout and the failures of the sexual revolution left many people broken in ways that the Jesus movement- rooted in heady Southern California, where Dylan and many other counterculture heroes lived at the time- exploited to attract vulnerable souls.
One assumes that Mr. Arnoff is characterizing Dylan as a ‘vulnerable soul’ rather than a conscious human being. The question in my mind is who was exploiting whom. My notions of Christianity and Judaism and their relationship to each other is obviously culturally opposed to that of Mr. Arnoff. I believe Dylan was much more calculating, or to put it another way, had an agenda, then might appear at first glance. His vision of Christianity and Judaism was also much different than that of the ‘secular’ Mr. Arnoff.
Life is more complex, as are psychologies, than any of us can possibly express but we must try. Gilbert’s full video, Rolling Thunder And The Gospel Years, seems to be such a serious attempt.
Dylan’s life may be characterized as a downward spiral from, say, 1959 when he left home to his encounter with Jesus in 1979 when as Mr. Arnoff suggests, he hit bottom but for different reasons than Mr. Arnoff suggests. Mr. Arnoff seem oblivious to the fact that Dylan was indoctrinated by a Lubavitcher Rebbe for his Bar Mitzvah.
Gilbert picks up Dylan’s life from 1975 to 1981 the last few years before the singer bumped against the lower depths, and examines it closely. Viewed from one perspective Dylan led a disgusting life from 1955 to 1979 as he groped to ind his way out of his self-confessed confusion. A large part of his confusion was the conflict between his Jewish and Christian milieux.
The few years between the abandonment of the first phase of his career when ‘He Threw It All Away’ and the resumption of his profligate ways with 1975′s Rolling Thunder Review after he had given birth to his brood in fulfillment of the Jewish Law to be fruitful and multiply was his only attempt to quiet his confusion. Those few years were also years in which he studied the Bible evidently trying to reconcile his Orthodox Jewish upbringing with his surrounding Christian milieu.
After this relatively quiet period, having fulfilled the Biblical injunction to be fruitful and multiply, Dylan savaged his marriage so brutally that his wife had no choice but to leave him. Incredibly in view of his behavior this astonished him so much that it caused him to reevaluate his conduct somewhat and thus ‘deep pain’ drove him into the realm of born again Christian acolytes.’
On one level this may be true. However it must be borne in mind that at one time, or perhaps many times, his father told him that a son could become so defiled that his parents would reject him but that God could lead him back to virtue again. This notion seems to have dominated his life from that point on so that when he hit the bottom of the divorce fulfilling his father’s prophecy he began to seek God to bring him ‘home.’ A little analysis might have been more fruitful but Dylan is a ‘true believer.’ Thus on another level it is not improbable that Dylan attempted to resolve his confusion by an attempted amalgamation of Christianity and Judaism into one faith. One faith=no more confusion. Not by converting the one to the other but gently leading them to one confession. Of course, since this would obliterate the distinction between Jews and Christians the idea is as much anathema to the Jews as actual conversion to Christianity. At that point then Dylan contravened Judaic LAW and become an outlaw to Judaism.
Thus it appears that Mr. Arnoff accuses Dylan of both living outside the LAW and being dishonest. This seems to be his complaint. That combined with the review of the film being conducted by the ‘messianic’ Jews For Jesus. The mere mention of the word Jesus throws the ‘secular’ Mr. Arnoff into a frenzy. He excuses Gilbert on the grounds that he is merely trying for exposure for his film but can’t conceal his distaste for Mitch Glaser and Al Kashi of Jews For Jesus.
Mr. Arnoff doesn’t seem to understand what Dylan is doing so that he is conflicted between Dylan’s ‘jewish’ work and his Jesus period. Note I do not use the term ‘Christian.’ That is because I don’t think Dylan ever embraced Christianity but approached Jesus as a Jewish persona from a standpoint similar to Jews For Jesus; Dylan was essentially blowing smoke into the eyes of Christians. Mr. Anrnoff complains:
Most of the time, Dylan embodies a multi-layered approach to his subject- with wordplay, rich cultural allusions, insinuations, irony and clusters of unexplained questions. In his writing and perforning, Dylan grasps at defining themes with ferocity and dynamism that allow renowned critics like Milton scholar Christopher Ricks (who dedicated some 500 pages to Dylan in his 2004 book “Dylan’s Vision Of Sin”) to compare his canon without reservation to that of Shakespeare and Milton. With few exceptions including the aforementioned songs, the Christian (Jesus) period of Dylan’s work remains unconvincingly simplistic, overly literal, humorless and blunt.
Well maybe so. I’ve never listened to it having no interest in what I consider an unlistenable singer after Blonde On Blonde. Whatever happened the muse walked away from Dylan after 1966 and never spoke his again. While as Mr. Arnoff approvingly notes of the Jewish Dylan, Christopher Ricks compares Dylan favorably to Shakespeare and Milton, I can only say that Mr. Ricks is bereft of his senses.
Dylan wrote some nice songs, most of them on Another Side, but that’s just about as far as you can take it. Always highly derivative, after 1966 borrowing became so explicit as to narrowly skirt plagiarism. Indeed not a few of his contemporary folk singers openly accuse him of plagiarism. I’m a little more lenient; hell, they’re only popular songs, not even good Country and Western.