Bob Dylan is one of the most spiritually interesting songwriters of our generation. In today’s episode, Bishop Barron reflects on some of Dylan’s best-known hits to show how they subtlety put Biblical themes on display. A listener wonders if Bishop Barron has any tips on how to evangelize in a secular workspace.

Topics Discussed

  • 0:17  – Bishop Barron at the Bob Dylan concert last weekend
  • 2:40 – Can Bob Dylan serve as a gateway to God?
  • 4:45 – Who is Bob Dylan?
  • 8:32 – Why Bob Dylan is best read as a spiritual poet
  • 10:11 – Bob Dylan’s religious views
  • 12:17 – Biblical elements of Blowin’ in the Wind
  • 15:39 – Bishop Barron on Like a Rolling Stone
  • 21:41 – Bob Dylan and the Resurrection
  • 22:10 – All Along the Watchtower and the Book of Isaiah
  • 26:41 – Finding Jesus in Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love
  • 28:43 – Question from listener: How can we evangelize in a secular workspace?

Bonus Resources

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13 comments on “WOF 028: Bob Dylan, Poet and Prophet

  1. “Do you ever wonder just what God requires?
    You think He’s just an errand boy to satisfy your wandering desires”

    Amazing artist. Thank you Bishop.

  2. Cecilia Jun 21, 2016

    Excellent way of evangelization! Right on Bishop Barron: We most dress our faith in the most humble and firm loving way for the world to feel and experience. Glory to God in the highest and Peace to us here on earth.

  3. Every song ever written is the gift of the Creator of creativity to His creation, to give glory to God. Look at where all music came from. The book of Psalms are song to God. When we sing all songs to Him, even those written today, we are giving the praise, glory and honor to the Creator, our Lord.

  4. I can’t help but wonder if even Dylan gets this much meaning out of his songs. 🙂

  5. Kathleen Hartman Jun 22, 2016

    Bishop Barron, a few years ago, a woman from my parish invited three of us to her home to watch a “Father Barron DVD” and discuss it.
    You mentioned Bob Dylan and I scribbled down the quote. When I brought it up in our discussion, the hostess said that Dylan is one of your heroes.
    My reaction was, “Give me more of this!”
    That led to me listening to you on YouTube, buying DVD sets for myself and as gifts, reading your daily Lenten writings and listening to your sermons weekly. I’ve enjoyed following your career.
    Thanks for the many tributes you have paid to Bob Dylan. He has been the most profound (human) influence in my life. I discovered him in 1966 at age 10 (I had older brothers).
    After hearing you mention him, I read and enjoyed Keith Richards’s, “Life” and “Keith Richards: a Life in Pictures” by Andy Neill. I got a kick out of your Mom’s reaction when you mentioned Richards.
    By introducing the two generations after mine to the writings of Bob Dylan, and his Biblical and spiritual influences, you are giving people the opportunity to hear him at age 75 while he’s still on earth.
    Thank you for spreading the Good News.
    -Kathleen Hartman

    P.S. Three years ago, I did the “walking tour” of Hibbing, MN and got to see Dylan’s old haunts. I met a young woman whose Dad graduated from High School with Bob. She told some neat stories. If you haven’t had a chance to go to Hibbing, I think you’d enjoy it.

  6. I need to share a story about my encounter with God by way of this podcast and Bob Dylan. I work at a hospital where there is a piano in the lobby that is open to anyone who wants to come and play. Yesterday I was walking through on my way back to my office when I heard an older gentleman playing the most beautiful version of a song that I knew I’d heard before but couldn’t recall the name. The tune of the song stuck with me. Later on for my drive home, I queued up this podcast on Bob Dylan and there was a mention of the song, “Make you feel my love”. I felt God was moving me to learn more about the song so I decided to look it up later on Youtube. The Adele version came up first and sure enough it was the same tune I heard in the hospital. Let me tell you this: as the tune played and I listened to the lyrics in light of Bishop Barron’s insight, I felt the weight of God’s Love upon me in a way that words cannot describe. It was a transcendent experience where the Lord allowed me to experience a small glimpse of Heaven that is still giving me goosebumps. God bless you all, your ministry and Word on Fire. Thank you and may the Lord’s name be praised forever!!!

  7. Christopher Spry Jun 22, 2016

    Dear Bishop Barron,
    I have been an ardent follower of you for the the past couple of years. I find it very easy to listen and understand what you are saying. I hope and pray that you will continue to do what you do so well, for many more years to come. Personally, I am convinced that you are like a breath of fresh air blowing through the Catholic Church. Thank you very much for all you are doing. I look forward to reading and hearing a lot more from you in the future.
    Chris Spry

  8. Sherrie NICOLET Jun 23, 2016

    Thoroughly enjoyed your comments.

  9. And then there are the more direct religious lyrics. Like on Duquesne Whistle:”I can hear her sweet voice gentle calling, must be the mother of my Lord.”

  10. Robert Jun 23, 2016

    Thank you, Bishop Barron. I can’t hear “Make You Feel My Love” without imagining Christ saying those words.

    Another incredibly gifted folk singer/songwriter with Jewish roots from the same era is Leonard Cohen. He uses a great deal of Biblical imagery, both Jewish and Christian. Some of his songs, like “Hallelujah” and “If It Be Your Will” have really spoken to me. In other songs, he mixes the holy and profane in ways that make them difficult to listen to. I’m wondering if you’re a fan or have any thoughts on his work.

  11. Mary Kay Fry Jun 25, 2016

    Thank you for your thoughts and reflections about the great Bob Dylan. Here may be concerts even you haven’t heard of:

  12. nodelink Jun 26, 2016

    “Blowin in the Wind” was the first Bob Dylan song that I knew but I knew it from other people performing it. Yes, my discernment immediately was that the song had spiritual application. It was also a catalyst for stirring up a yearning for social justice.

    However, my understanding of Bob Dylan has changed in recent years when I saw an interview with Bob Dylan where Robert Z. acknowledged that his public persona has been an act, a performance, a fiction, a fantasy (my words not Mr. Zimmerman’s words). I think that all we observers and fans do have insight into the real person underneath. Like other artists, he has been self-revealing. But, of course, there have been things held back and distortions thrown-up against those trying to peer in too deeply.

    Yes, there has been valuable prophetic and poetic content and Biblical allusions in the work of Bob Dylan even when the underlying life may have strayed into some dissolute paths that were not so admirable.

    Thank you, Bishop Barron, for much accurate and insightful history, analysis and assessments in this radio show.

  13. John Jordan Jul 19, 2016

    With respect Bishop Barron I must say that I appreciate your enthusiasm and expertise in your discussion of Bob Dylan’s career. However I believe that you are in error about “Like A Rolling Stone”. The song is not about being free. It’s about being trapped. The explicit lyrics are directed with deadly accuracy at a smarty-pants high-society debutante-girl who thought she could hit the street and treat people badly. She found out different, didn’t she?

    “You said you’d never compromise
    With the mystery tramp, but now you realize
    He’s not selling any alibis
    As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
    And ask him do you want to make a deal?”

    Now if you wanted to say that the mystery tramp is Jesus of Nazareth, then I might agree with you because Jesus lived an itinerant life and called no place in this world his home. Also, Jesus certainly isn’t selling any alibis. Jesus is offering forgiveness. But alas! It is not Jesus making the offer; it is the young debutante girl asking the mystery tramp if he wants to make a deal? Sex for food & shelter?

    I do not believe Jesus the Christ of God makes deals, do you? The “deal” Jesus offers everyone is forgiveness and new life for faith & obedience. It’s the same for everyone. The day-to-day details of your deal and my deal with Jesus will be as unique as each of our lives, but the “deal” is the same for you as it is for me.

    “Like A Rolling Stone” is a bitter pill that anyone who is honest with themselves must swallow sooner or later. There is no way for a living soul to be “on their own” without being utterly destroyed in the hellish conflagration of unrequited, ever-increasing carnal desire.