Thursday, August 10, 2006

blowin' in the wind

Blowin' in the Wind
Bob Dylan

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

No. This isn't decrying the war in Iraq. Instead it's to call our attention to this song's simple, eloquent expression of the human heart cry for shalom. Shalom is the peace and prosperity that only God can bring about, through his kingdom in Jesus. How the world ought to be.

Of course we come to know that the answer to these good questions Dylan poses, does not lie in ourselves. We're, after all, part of the problem. But the fact that we can ask such questions, and that we long for something better, for wrongs being made right, for good "happy forever after" endings, speaks of our dignity as humans, being image bearers, or eikons of God. This is something in our hearts that, if let go, diminishes something fundamental to being human. The desire for a world of love, justice and peace.

Today at work I was going over Psalm 48. Looking at this psalm with the reminder of this song to recall our lack and need of shalom, gave me new eyes as I pondered its lines. It is largely about how God, as King over the earth, in justice brings shalom to all peoples. If I were of the third world, I would naturally read the psalm in that way. But I tend to look at it in some kind of religious way, that easily misses God's answer to the questions I may fail to even ask. People here often settle for much less than a heart's cry for shalom, such as "the American dream".

Of all people on earth, we Christians, followers of Jesus, ought to have a passion for God's shalom in this world. As Jesus taught us to pray: "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." And we need to remember that God, in his grace in Christ, actually enables us to be part of the solution to this problem of the lack of shalom.

Let us not give up or lose sight of this ideal. But press on, as those who know the One who has the answers in hand. In the Son from the Father by the Spirit to us. And through us to the world. Amen.


Allan R. Bevere said...


Your post reminds me of C.S. Lewis in his book the Weight of Glory, who writes that the problem of humanity is not that we cannot be pleased because we aim too high, but that we are far too easily pleased because we aim too low.

Good thoughts. Thanks!

Ted Gossard said...

Thanks. Yes, I'm sure Bob Dylan was aiming too low also. But I think his words here are more than a protest against the establishment in the 1960's. But a sense deep down that something is wrong that needs righted. (He's here in Grand Rapids at our minor league baseball park Saturday, so though I won't be there, I was reflecting on him a little and this song).

Thanks for your thoughts from C.S. Lewis.

John Frye said...

I've always been haunted by that song as sung by Paul Simon. Great blog about the deep longing of the heart. Thanks.

Ted Gossard said...

Thanks much! I haven't heard it sung by Paul Simon.

One of those great songs for anyone to sing, I think.