UUs to discuss the words and deeds of Bob Dylan


By Pauline Benetti

Special to The PREVIEW

Know something about Unitarian Universalism (UUism). First, understand that ours is a “living tradition.” It is concerned with the “here and the now” and how that can be made better for all people.

While it looks back to the example of our spiritual ancestors, it is also looks forward to the prophets of our time and reveres the lives and actions of men and women who have the strength and wisdom to do the right thing now.

This practice UUism has codified into the second source from which we draw strength and support: words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion and the transforming power of love.

Our speaker this Sunday, Stephen Clarke, a guest of the Pagosa Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, will speak to his research report, “Bob Dylan and an Initiatory Tradition in Popular Culture.” Is there anyone who knows Dylan’s life and songs who has not recognized the words and deeds of a prophetic man?

Clarke will examine several converging influences crucial to Dylan’s remarkable continuing influence on American culture. These are the poetic Muse as considered by Robert Graves, the backstory of Harry Smith’s remarkable Anthology of American Folk Music, Dylan’s lifelong fascination with the fractal visage of the Goddess both sacred and profane, and a deep intuition of the tikkun olam (the discipline leading to the restoration of the world) within both Hebrew Kabbalism and esoteric Christianity.

Through all of these can be detected resurgent remnants of a lost ancestral tradition and a spiritual heritage the equal of any other, as grounded through a remarkable public life of speaking truth to power. Dylan’s own considered words, collected from various sources, will punctuate many novel considerations of deep concern to our own folk soul. All musicians are welcome. Comments and requests for transcripts can be sent to Clarke at hozhonahasglii@yahoo.com.

Clarke, since 1948, has been a walkabout hitchhiker, single father, associate founder of several Rudolf Steiner Waldorf schools, a research scientist with a degree in chemistry and physics, an anti-war activist, a BMW and Mercedes-Benz mechanic and shop owner in New Mexico for 30 years, a consecrated priest in his lineage, and is a staff-holder with Pueblo and Navajo Medicine Men co-celebrant in traditional healing ceremonies throughout their homelands. An early physical setback impelled him to “reversal of attention” and a lifelong practice of meditation and transformational path-working according to his various ancestral influences.

He and his wife, Juli, now live in Pagosa Springs, where he spends as much time as possible outside, in a life of continuing education and acculturation to the spiritual identity of the land. Now occupied as a writer investigating the spiritual backstory of the American landscape (e.g., the Saturn Mysteries in Mesoamerica at the time of Christ), he likes to read tales of the old Chinese Zen masters, work out in the gym, soak in the springs, immerse himself in the cantatas of J. S. Bach and construct large-scale models of WWII naval vessels. The musical journey of Dylan has been a strong counterpoint throughout.

Ours is a welcoming congregation; we invite everyone to share in our faith community. Leadership is by Pastor Dean Cerny on the third and fourth Sundays or by a lay leader on other Sundays.

The Religious Exploration program for 2- to 9-year-olds continues in March on March 17 and 24. For more information, contact Anna Ramirez at afrancis_@hotmail.com.

Find us in Unit B-15 of the Greenbriar Plaza. From North Pagosa Boulevard, turn right onto Park Avenue and right again into Greenbriar Plaza, then turn left and continue around the complex until you see the Unitarian Universalist sign as it faces the mountains. Come in and join us. For further information about the Fellowship, visit pagosauu.org or call 731-7900.