Most Bob Dylan fans have found the singer and iconic songwriter's religious affiliation confusing through the years. Although Dylan was born Jewish, he later converted to Christianity. But given how Christian themes faded out of his music and he continued to practice certain Jewish customs, many wondered if he had left Christianity. However, his spiritual guide, Al Kasha, said Dylan never lost his faith in Christ. Dylan, 75, is the first American winner of the Nobel literature prize since Toni Morrison in 1993.
Dylan is the most unorthodox Nobel literature prize winner since 1997, when the award went to Italian playwright Dario Fo, whose works some said also needed to be performed to be fully appreciated. Coincidentally, Fo died Thursday at age 90, reports AJC.
Born on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minn., Dylan grew up in a Jewish middle-class family. By his early 20s, he had made a lasting mark in folk music. From that time on, he constantly reinvented himself, sometimes angering followers but then picking up new admirers. His career was so complicated with ever-changing styles, it took six actors to portray him in the 2007 movie based on his life, "I'm Not There."
Dylan was heralded as an iconic poet-musician of his generation. Songs such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'" became anthems for the U.S. anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s.
Dylan accepted Christianity after Kasha introduced him to Christ, according to World Religion News. Kasha, also a songwriter, won the Oscar award twice for his compositions. In 1978, Kasha reportedly prayed with Dylan in his apartment, shortly before his conversion. Dylan signed up for a discipleship course with the Calvary Chapel of Southern California. Ever since then, Dylan has been open about his Christian faith. He even composed Christian albums such as Saved, Shot of Love and Slow Train Coming, in addition to recording a Christmas album in 2009.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter became acquainted with Dylan as he was entrenched in Christianity, with Carter stating "Bob Dylan and I have been very close friends since I was governor. I first met him when he was going through an era of deep Christian faith."
However, fans then noticed Dylan's return to the secular themes. In his earlier days, there was a phase where his songs were less Christian or Evangelical and more spiritual, almost mystical. When Christian themes began evaporating from his songs, people thought he had renounced his faith altogether.
Kasha, who said he has known Dylan since 1960, points out Dylan's faith is highlighted in his 2012 album "Tempest." Despite this, people are still confused at the mixed signals they receive from Dylan's religious practices. Although he openly declared he does not believe in organized religions, he is known to observe core Jewish practices even now.