Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Who Knew? Dylan, Calvinism, and the Power of the Web

UPDATE: An extended and deepened version of the Dylan piece will be posted to the fantastic On Being website on April 17, 2016.

A few weeks ago I did a post on Bob Dylan's song "Every Grain of Sand." I called it "Dylan's Beautiful Calvinism." It turned out to be one my most viewed posts of all time. And not because of the song, which is a masterpiece, but because there is a website called Contemporary Calvinism, which linked over to the piece. I was really pleased about that, not least because I'm not a Calvinist, which means my observations were informed enough to pass muster with the actual practitioners and adherents. This exchange demonstrates the positive dimension of the web, respectfully connecting people who would have never anticipated they had anything in common.  If you had told me I would have ever been read by any Calvinists I wouldn't have believed it. Certainly the readers of that site are more open-minded and curious than I might have imagined, demonstrating the problem with untested preconceptions. All those techno-Utopians back in the 90s didn't foresee that the word most often associated with the World Wide Web would be cesspool. But their hopes that people could be brought together in unexpected ways weren't unfounded.

I went back to listen to the song again. These must be among Dylan's most accomplished lyrics, which is saying something. Check it out.

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