Human nature is to wonder.  Since the beginning of humankind, people have wanted to know how life came to exist and  how best to live.  Religions attempt to  offer  explanations and guidance.  Western civilization developed with monotheistic religions.  The Judeo-Christian tradition is the basis of society.  Christianity and Judaism are important to many people’s lives.    Few, however, live a  biblically strict life.   Another aspect of culture is filled by entertainers.  Often they appeal to lesser aspects of personal character.  While they are talented,  they are no better than anyone else.  In the modern day, these celebrities preach to us from the pulpits of the platforms their fame  provides  them.  The adulation they receive makes them idols and their egos take that seriously.  They take themselves too seriously too.   The entertainment industry has many hypocrites.  Many take to political activism.  Even two legendary cinematic mafiosos joined the extortion racketeering of the DNC media,.  Sometimes, though celebrities come to religion and want to convince their  audiences to  come along.   Jed Smock , Bob Dylan, Mister Fred Rogers and Kanye West might be the most disparate individuals with a common purpose.  Their flock is not so easily convinced.

Evangelists

Jed Smock was a traveling evangelist in the midwest.  He went to college campuses to spread the gospel.  He could create amusing situations to gather a crowd.  His favorite gambit, it seemed, was to approach a  co-ed and scream I through a megaphone: “YOU ARE A FORNICATOR!”  Since most hadn’t heard the term  and the accusatory tone,  the audience would form .  Then, with this opportunity, he would preach, in classic “bible-thumper“ style.    Students generally ridiculed him, but he accomplished his goal of getting even just a few minutes and some consideration of the “word of the lord.”  He might not have won many religious devotees those days, but then, maybe some did later.  We would have never known about it.  That is the theatrical style of the evangelist. Billy Graham once began a sermon with  something to the effect of : “ If you are not ‘saved’ then you do not know hat sex is!”  Surely that got a few people to to listen even if not long. That is the theatrical nature of evangelism.

Bob Dylan

BOB DYLAN GOES ELECTRIC AT THE 1965 NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL

Robert Alan Zimmerman, better known as Bob Dylan, was born into a Jewish family in year.  The immensely talented poet, singer-songwriter  went on to become the most influential musical and American popular culture voice of his generation. His  1960’s  ballads, often themed in peace and opposing the  status quo  of the establishment, included “The Times They Are A-Changin” “Blown’ in the Wind”  “Like a Rolling Stone”, the “Masters of War”, and “All Along the Watchtower.”  His cult following and success made him an international superstar  He performs to this day., when most performers have a short shelf -life.   Many were surprised when he embarked on what would result in a gospel themed trilogy of albums.   Slow Train Coming (1979), Saved (1980)., and Shot of Love (1981).  Most were disappointed,  only slightly less than with his  “Electric Dylan” Newport Folk Festival  concert of 1965., while some were heartened. 

A debate ensued, as to when and why this occurred, and what  religion he espoused.  Many parables were findable in the allegories of many of his songs, He was born into a Jewish family, attended Jewish religious classes, and attended synagogue  prior to, and since, the  public affirmations. However, the millenarianist themes of these albums convinced many Bob Dylan  had  religiously converted to Christianity, with  a fervor.  Modern scholars  have concluded, with no consensus, that personal religious paradigms  had  informed his songwriting  throughout his career, and not just during his “Gospel Period”.  Mr. Dylan, himself, has professed both Jewish and Christian beliefs, including accepting the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.  He unequivocally believes in biblical prophesy. The religion topic is no exception to his typical cryptic interview style,  meant to obscure more than reveal,   A few aspects remain consistent in the various versions of his life story.  He had  an astounding meteoric fame, and eventually was overwhelmed.  A motorcycle accident in 1965 was rumored to have given him a near death experience, and he recuperated in seclusion with his family.  He considered that an opportunity to escape the grind somewhat, and  though prolific,  he only reclaimed his celebrity  and touring , years later.  He was surrounded with religious friends,and they helped him.  He found  a deeper religion in turmoil, as many people have. Some people expected him to perform only Gospel  through the rest of his career, and felt betrayed when he  returned to more secular  composition –albeit imbued with the same allegorical style and parables  inherent in his manifestly gospel songs.  

“Jesus himself only preached for three years,” he told a reporter from the Los Angeles Times, possibly with his tongue in his cheek.

Bob Dylan,
Williams, Richard. “”Bob Dylan’s controversial born-again phase explored in new film”. The Guardian; 16 March 2018.

The singer  labeled , against his goals, as a leader of protest and anti-establishment ethos, did not engender a  large- scale  religious awakening among his musical loyalists.  They did not come along with his  theological journey.

Mister Fred Rogers

Fred Rogers, Producer and resident of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood / PBS

Fred Rogers is well known  as the comforting neighbor of PBS’ Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.  Many years since he passed, his popularity is  revived from recent theatrical releases.  Anecdotes from his acquaintances and the many friends he counseled, have developed his biography and admirable  legacy.   He was an ordained minister, and lived a devout Christian life. This man appreciated the beauty and essential importance of childhood.  He dedicated his career to helping children through the nascent educational opportunity called PBS.

“I’d like to be remembered for being a compassionate human being who happened to be fortunate enough to be born at a time when there was a fabulous thing called television that could allow me to use all the talents that I had been given.”

Fred Rogers

  All the while, he sought to befriend, mentor, and guide everyone he could.   He lived his beliefs every  day, and produced thirty-eight years, of his series, stopped only from physical illness and eventually his reward in the next life he so deeply trusted.  Yet, the dark-side of capitalism—marketing to kids—and the damage from  the sirens’ call of the screens-everywhere electronic juggernaut, stole the victory.  The children have grown into adults and suffer the consequences of the society’s  failing them, and their kids take exponentially worse  assaults on their well-being and  future development.  We admire  Fred Rogers’ caring, dedication and gentle kindness.   The accolades near the level of platitude.   We express our admiration of this heroic gentleman, but wouldn’t even try to behave better to our fellow men, women, and children. Perhaps its too difficult to attempt a better personal standard, or perhaps people just couldn’t care less.

Kanye West

President Donald J. Trump and Kanye West in the Oval Office, 2018-10-11. / The White House

Kanye West is the newest  crusade contestant .  A successful Rapper, he has a  large audience. Life has not always been easy for him.  He  raised himself from poverty with his  creative talent, and  genius.   Money and fame did not stop troubles in his life.  The trauma of his mother’s unexpected and sudden death, along with  other events, overwhelmed him.  He suffered a mental breakdown and although he survived the difficult recovery, that is used against him in the court of public  comment.   Many geniuses appear slightly “off” at times,  but those with a prior history of illness do not receive the benefit of the doubt afforded to other people.   His legend also has become somewhat of a Rorschach test .  (This  does not apply to his skin color.  This is mentioned, because part of the controversy that is Kanye, involves his assertions regarding  Africana-Americans.)    He is political  views are  influenced by conservative philosopher and activist Candace Owens. She believes  political liberals have used the  legacy of the travesty of slavery, to oppress African-Americans and keep them dependent upon government entitlements, to keep their votes.  The culture of relishing victimhood, instead of self-reliance is, they believe, the real problem behind so many minority people’s lack of success.   Many intelligent  leaders in the community  agree.  She leads , because she is younger and adept with modern media, as well as a creative and persuasive public speaker. She  formalized  her activism into what she calls “BlExit” [ or the Black people’s Exit from the Democratic Party., similar to the U.K. Brexit, or Britain Exit from the European Union (E.U.)].  Kanye West has offered some controversial claims regarding slavery and choices.  He also is an unapologetically proud supporter of Donald Trump,  the man the liberals  imagine is the epitome of evil.  They assume every Trump supporter has “deplorable” characteristics, and  that is not a respected club ,to the hateful leftists.  Since the music industry, as all of the entertainment industry,  consists mostly of extreme liberal virtue signalers, anyone going to the “other side”, becomes their enemy.  Those same people with “Coexist” emblazoned on their Priuses , with their  fellow Antifa miscreants,  on their way to beat-up peaceful people wearing red hats, complain of some non-existent betrayal from  the activist having previously chastised former president   Bush. Jr.    Congratulations to him on escaping from  the smarmies and the tyrants.    Kanye West has come to religion and  his church services have large crowds.  Some  Christian pundits  distrust the genuineness of his devotion.   That seems quite presumptive.   It’s not surprising  that many of the naysayers are also Never-Trump republicans.  Sadly, nothing is sacred in the world of the obstruct-and-resist  politicos.  Thus far, there is no  revolution of  religious  epiphany.

Advertising Religion

I’m  not claiming to be a role model of any religious lifestyle, and everyone chooses for themselves what they believe and how religion does or does not lead their behavior in  life.   This s just a discussion of a sociological phenomenon of popular culture. What is the result of all of  the religion and fame?  People are amenable when entertainers talk of hedonism, less so with religious discipline. Religious lifestyles are a hard sell.   People  often resent preaching.  Then the famous people come to it. People have reason to be skeptical.  Celebrities often sell anything just to make money.   Evangelists often spend donations on  opulent megachurches .  The culture is increasingly bombarded with anti-religious ideology.  Although Wokeism has proportionally few actual disciples, they are loud.  People are going to listen to the well-meaning religious celebrities, and then ignore them.

Photograph: Evangelist William (Billy) F. Graham, Jr. / Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

1 Comment

  1. Samamiller

    I enjoyed reading your blog. I am fascinated by your style of sharing your thoughts. You put it out there for us to assimilate at our own pace. I also appreciate how you share your observations without forcing me to immediate accept them as the gospel. That is brilliant!

    Like

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