over the last couple months, i’ve found myself regularly hitting repeat on what i consider one of the best albums of 2010. jakob dylan’s sophomore effort, women and country, is a sonic stroll through equal parts folk, western, rock and even pop sensibilities. much like his father, dylan explores everything from american folklore to love to social issues. naturally, though, what i find particularly intriguing is some of the subtle (and even not-so-subtle) references to matters of faith and spirituality. whereas jakob dylan is far from his father’s deep and outspoken points-of-view, he certainly isn’t afraid to draw rich spiritual metaphors and allusions.
one of the things i love about music—much like other art forms—is that the more you explore it and live with it, the more new discoveries rise to the surface. in the case of this album, the initial standout track, everybody’s hurting, does just that. before reading on, take a listen to the track.
one line has particularly caught my attention. in the bridge, dylan sings
Through rolling acres of boneyards we drift
Our spirits’ been broken, been splintered to bits
Faith is believing what you see ain’t so
My sweetheart, we’ve got to learn to live with these ghosts
They can’t leave, we won’t go
the line, faith is believing what you see ain’t so, has been the one that has particularly piqued my interest. obviously, it’s a reference to hebrews 11:1, which, famously, says the following:
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
whereas dylan obviously doesn’t quote the verse exactly, it’s clearly an allusion to the verse with a bit of a different and interesting slant. while hebrews 11 expresses the idea of believing in things we can’t see, dylan approaches it in the negative, affirming that faith sees past what is seemingly true and before us.
we’re a very surface-dwelling people, driven to believe in and engage with what we see and touch and feel. there’s more, though, to life than that. as rob bell has famously said, life is about “the thing underneath the thing that’s underneath the thing.” life is intricate and deeply woven. it’s beautifully layered. it’s a blend of what’s here with what we haven’t yet seen. life is mysterious, constantly pointing toward things we cannot or even will not see.
i think faith, is in fact, believing what we see ain’t so. may we each day seek out the things underneath the thing that’s underneath the thing. may we find god below the surface and live in the mystery.