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Showing posts with label documentaries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label documentaries. Show all posts

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bob Dylan's Jesus Years

Cover of Cover of Slow Train Coming
"You gotta serve somebody," sang Bob Dylan in the 1979 album Slow Train Coming that publicly announced his conversion to Christianity. Love it or hate it, the evangelicals I knew in Southern California were ecstatic to claim Dylan as their "brother in Christ."

I heard Bob Dylan live in concert when he came to the Davidson College campus -- a great show with only one disappointment. All of us had been imitating Dylan's distinctive way of talking, joking and playing around, in anticipation of hearing the legend himself speak. Two hours later, the concert ended -- and he didn't say even one word the whole time!

Anyways, here's a chance to give yourself a well-after-Christmas treat. Two documentaries on Bob Dylan's Jesus Years are out, the first documentary,

Inside Bob Dylan's Jesus Years: Busy Being Born... Again!

is a film that documents the years Jesus was most prominent in the artists songs. It's a biography with lots of commentary, one that plays on the shock felt through the music world by Dylan's Christian music. His conversion was unexpected, the reactions mixed, and the continuing relevance uncertain.

From the description:

In late 1978, Bob Dylan fell into the Arms of the Lord through the Vineyard Christian Fellowship Church. In his first-ever interview, Dylan's Bible class teacher, Pastor Bill Dwyer, details Bob Dylan's embrace of Jesus Christ and Christianity. Dylan then made three Gospel albums, winning a Grammy for Gotta Serve Somebody. However, Dylan's radical new direction alienated fans and enraged critics as he preached apocalyptic messages from the Book of Revelation.

The film offers "an insider's view of Bob Dylan's "Born Again" transformation, and its effect on his life and music."

There's a trailer and full website. Also, here's a quick review of the film.

I also found another documentary,

Bob Dylan: 1978-1989 - Both Ends of the Rainbow

From the description:

Reviews the years from late-1978 to the release of 1989's Oh Mercy - an album that was seen by many as a huge return to form.

Both DVD's cover Dylan's overtly Christian years. Many question whether Dylan abandoned the faith, or if it's just a more subtle aspect of his life today.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ted Haggard HBO Documentary Will Discomfort Evangelicals

On Jan. 29th, HBO will air a documentary, "The Trials of Ted Haggard." Haggard, who fell in 2006 amid a gay sex scandal, was exiled from the New Life mega-church he founded and told by church leaders to leave Colorado after admitting "sexual immorality" and buying methamphetamines from a male prostitute.

A new HBO documentary covers Ted Haggard's year in exile, his struggle with his sexuality in the face of his past condemnation of gays, and his attempts to make a living outside the church. During his exile, he told documentary maker Alexandra Pelosi (the daughter of U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi), that he continued to "struggle from time to time with same-sex attraction."

"Even though I'm a sinner, even though I'm weak," he told Pelosi, "God's best plan for human beings is for men and women to unite together." He also said this difficult year "strengthened my faith. I do wish others had been more forgiving toward me. But I think those who hate me and judge me had a reason. I deserved it."

Haggard's documentary (about which he had no control of editing) will likely complicate rather than comfort evangelicals. It seems his sexuality is more complicated than he thought. According to the Reuters article:

Three weeks after church elders told Haggard to leave and ordered him to undergo "spiritual restoration," they announced that after counseling he was "completely heterosexual."

Haggard smiled wryly at the statement, saying he fits into neither the gay nor the evangelical community.

"My therapist says I am a heterosexual with complications. I don't say that because it is more complex. I love my relationship with my wife."

To the extent Haggard's sexual "complications" are played up in the film, conservatives will continue to dissassociate from him, even if Haggard still supports traditional marriage.

Look for further backstage revelations on the process of his dismissal and restoration (like "he smiled wryly at the statement" following his elders' assurance that their former leader is "completely homosexual"). As the public absorbs the complex process of navigating between fallen pastors and shocked congregations, such revelations will complicate other high-profile scandals that will inevitably occur in the future.