They look me squarely in the eye and they say, “All is well”
Can they imagine the darkness that will fall from on high
When men will beg God to kill them and they won’t be able to die?
Oddly, perversely, his fans and critics would in later years treat Dylan's involvement with evangelical Christianity as a kind of phase, as though the artist had taken a holiday from himself. Somehow ignoring a host of songs over better than three decades, they would study the small print and ignore the contract, concluding - the relief was palpable - that he had got the thing out of his system with three quick albums, 1979 to 1981, before returning to 'secular music', his true calling. Of all the nonsense ever talked about Dylan, this error counts as monumental. Given the artist's habit of delivering statements of faith, albeit reluctantly, whenever he is pressed on the matter, given the apocalyptic imagery that runs through song after song, given that many of those songs are impossible to understand if you discount religious belief, calling Dylan 'secular' is like calling the Dalai Lama a careers adviser. This artist cannot be understood without his God. Church membership is neither here nor there.
He was a religious writer for much of the 1960s, though it took a while for most people to notice. By the beginning of the 1980s, he had come to occupy a precise area in the unending realm of faith. Most followers of the major religions would consider Dylan's beliefs to be paradoxical. Some would call them nonsensical, others blasphemous. His statements and his songs nevertheless support a simple description. He remains a Jew, but a Jew who accepts Jesus and believes, furthermore, that Christ will return any time now. Fireworks and more will follow. Dylan is, as these things are described, a messianic Jew.