THE GOOD WORD
“If only holiness were measured by the volume of our incessant chatter, we would be universally praised as the most holy nation on earth. But in our fretful, theatrical piety, we have come to mistake noisiness for holiness, and we have presumed to know, with a clarity and certitude that not even the angels dared claim, the divine will for the world. We have organized our needs with the confidence that God is on our side, now and always, whether we feed the poor or corral them into ghettos.”
— Charles Marsh, “God and Country,” The Boston Globe, July 8, 2007
Marsh prefaces his article by quoting a line from the old Dylan song: “If God is on our side, He’ll stop the next war…” Studs Terkel interviewed Dylan (Zimmerman) in 1963. He was asked about another song, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” and in response he explained that he wasn’t “talking about that hard rain meaning atomic rain,” but instead that “it seems to me like the bomb is a god in some sort of way,… and people will worship it actually. You have to be nice to it, you know. You have to be careful what you say about it. People work on it, they go six days a week and work on it, you have people designing it, you know, it’s a whole new show. … I don’t believe they’re bad people.
“…What’s gonna happen, there’s got to be an explosion of some kind. The hard rain that’s gonna fall. In the last verse when I say, ‘When the pellets of poison are flooding the waters,’ that means all the lies, you know, all the lies that people get told on their radios and in their newspapers. All you have to do is think for a minute. They’re trying to take people’s brains away. Which maybe has been done already. I have to think it’s been done. All the lies I consider poison.” (Quoted in Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews, ed. Jonathan Cott [New York: Wenner, 2006], pp. 7, 8)
Poisonous pieties and self-righteous platitudes, to boot.