Gotta Serve Somebody: Bob Dylan

There's no such thing as being non-religious. Some homes showcase a crucifix, others, posters of a superstar.  Some find their faith and morality articulated in Scripture, others, People Magazine. Some worship from a pew, others, a bar stool.

We will worship, the only questions are "Who?" or "What?"

The default religion of our culture is "Pop." Pop "gods" hold up the standard to which many aspire. Wealth. Fame. Power. Stuff. They have it all, at least all we're told we should have.

And so everyone wants to be a superstar. We want to be known. We are wired to think our value is determined by others. Thus, the proliferation of YouTube and Facebook. Even for the masses who will never make it to the big stage, commercial advertising caters to this appetite, to this insecurity. You're the star if you buy these clothes. Go to that place. Do that thing.

So all this raises the question: What does your "god"... your religion... do for you? What happens when the pop-culture religion is proven empty, if not destructive? 

Neil Young said, "It's better to burn out than to fade away." And within pop-religion, so it is. Marilyn Monroe, Whitney Houston, John Belushi, Jimmy Hendrix.... just a few, now dead "gods" pronouncing the dead nature of their religion.

The truth is, what we perceive as most desirable, most of them pronounce as most reprehensible, even while basking in the light.  Proof? This religion has the highest depression, divorce and general destruction rates of any profession.  Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones) was living all those dreams and had the honesty to proclaim, "Look at me! Does it matter? I've been shattered!"

Keep it real pop-culture religion. Are we really having fun yet? 

So it should be clear that our souls were made to worship. And even more clear now that they were made to worship Someone. Flowing from our identity, every conscious act is a participation in a kind of religion. When we experience the emptiness from worshiping any other thing, there ought to be an awakening, a moment of honesty. Does it fit?

The highest pronouncement here is perhaps in the lives of those pop-culture icons who have turned to that higher place. Their faith invites us to consider that the greatest "thing" worth pursuing in this world is not the star of narcissistic emptiness, the bright stage of adulation, but in the transcendence resulting from relationship with Someone who fashioned us in His Image, for Himself... whose Star illuminated not worldly wealth and glory, but a stable and a manger.

Bob Dylan 

"Towards the end of the show someone out in the crowd...knew I wasn't feeling too well," recalled Dylan in a 1979 interview. "I think they could see that. And they threw a silver cross on the stage. Now usually I don't pick things up in front of the stage. Once in a while I do. Sometimes I don't. But I looked down at that cross. I said, 'I gotta pick that up.' So I picked up the cross and I put it in my pocket...And I brought it backstage and I brought it with me to the next town, which was out in Arizona...I was feeling even worse than I'd felt when I was in San Diego. I said, 'Well, I need something tonight.' I didn't know what it was. I was used to all kinds of things. I said, 'I need something tonight that I didn't have before.' And I looked in my pocket and I had this cross."

Dylan believed he had experienced a vision of Christ in his Tucson hotel room. "Jesus did appear to me as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords," he'd later say. "There was a presence in the room that couldn't have been anybody but Jesus...Jesus put his hand on me. It was a physical thing. I felt it. I felt it all over me. I felt my whole body tremble. The glory of the Lord knocked me down and picked me up."

If you get the chance, listen to his "Gotta Serve Somebody." Says it all.

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Pentecost: Big Question for Couples: To Whom Do You Belong? (Fr. Nick Rouch)

JOIN US! A 30 minute journey for couples...

What questions guide your marriage? In the following half hour talk Fr. Nick Rouch takes up Christ's first words after Resurrection, inviting couples to consider to Whom they belong. Please feel free to download the talk for playback on your media player (burn to CD). If you are not able and would like a free CD, please contact us including your mailing address. (If you are able, please partner with us in making this possible by your donation of any amount. Thank you.)
Discussion Questions for Couples: 1) What struck you most in Fr. Nick's talk? What challenged you? What inspired you? 
2) Fr. Nick begins with an analogy of a young boy whose understanding of the Pledge of Allegiance increased dramatically with age and the experience of war. How have your marriage vows become more real?
3) Sacrifice literally means, "To make sacred." How might that understanding better inform your understanding of marriage and family life?
4) Jesus joined the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. How often do we depart from spiritual opportunities discouraged, thinking we missed it? How does Jesus concretely invite us back into understanding Him to whom we belong? (Join us for Made2Worship :)
5) Do you talk about spiritual things as a couple? 6) What concrete commitments can you make - individually, as a couple and as a family - to more fully live out your belonging to Christ?

Please share with other couples. Join in the journey! This talk is brought to you by Image Trinity, a dynamic Catholic family movement committed to engaging families in the great adventure of discovering and living our identity as an Image of the Trinity.

The Former Lord of My Life: DJ RA

I remember a turning point "awareness" in my life. I was in high school. It was after a week of experiencing inner crud. It occurred to me I'd been listening to Pink Floyd's "The Final Cut" all week.

Note. As a family we prayed. We spoke of God. We went to church. But under the hood- where it really counts- I had enough memorized tunes in my head to run a rock station for weeks... to drown out anything else.  My inner playlist lacked anything that really spoke with my soul... that resonated with my God-designed, spiritual nobility... a capacity to transcend self... fashioned for His indwelling.

Our local rock station was branded, "The Rocking Apple." How appropriate. Back to the Garden. Shiny. Forbidden. Seemingly benign.  Promises so much. "Buying a stairway to heaven." Delivers so little. "But look at me... does it matter? I've been shattered... shattered."

I became aware. "You are what you eat." Applicable to my soul. What we surround ourselves with forms us. It defines us. It becomes the measure of our value. It paves our road.

At the core of this good kid - with a healthy life of accomplishment in athletics, academics, music, drama... with a spiritual sensibility... I was in inner fog, if not turmoil. Thanks to Pink Floyd- I was catapulted from the dark side of the moon. An unseen Grace catapulted me out of that fog-- a vantage from which I saw that I had substantially turned over the inner mic to the unseen DJ Rocking Apple (DJ RA). "He" wanted me 24/7... such a lust for my soul.

It's good to be wanted. That was the point of unity with the gang. It's good to feel part of something. It's validating- if not a very impoverished counterfeit to the kind of real intimacy and unity we're designed to experience.

From this vantage I saw that DJ RA's very essence sharply mocked the value of my God-like identity and capacity. It introduced a reverence for insanity... his only mode of survival... that we would seek to keep doing the same things expecting a different result. And so we see a sea of humanity doing the same things... again and again... with new and deeper emptiness... yet returning with unfulfilled expectations.

At risk of sounding cliche, it really was a kind of vision from heaven that pronounced this core truth: "You are what you eat." It was an awakening to the awareness that we were designed for GREAT "Food."

So think about it.  Think of the "vibe" we surround ourselves with in music, movies, TV, entertainment, gadgets, conversations that course through our lives... through our souls. What's it doing? Have we accepted a half-life as a norm? Have we forgotten who we are?

You were created in the image and likeness of God, for His indwelling Spirit. That is WHO YOU ARE! You were destined for GREAT things!

How to recover? How to awaken?

Perhaps like me you need detox. That's not easy. DJ RA is insanely jealous and will fight like hell to keep you. I knew I needed to do it. I had been living in a compromise state when - in my second year in college, I finally said goodbye to my "buddies." It took awhile until I felt released from captivity. Until I could hear the Voice again. It's made all the difference.

"Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." (Eph. 5:14) For inner planets spinning out of orbit, rediscover your Center of Gravity. He is the ultimate Rock star (Matt. 7:24f). He fashioned you for Himself. Made2Worship. Tomorrow Night. Spread the WORD.