Remembering Nat Hentoff and sharing a letter I wrote him in 2016 about Bob Dylan!!!!

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I am really sad to learn about the passing of one of the great thinkers of our time. Nat Hentoff was a regular at the Cato Institute for many years and I have been reading his articles for many years. Recently I started reading his articles on music since I knew I was going to get a chance to see Bob Dylan perform in Tulsa on October 23, 2016. The first letter I wrote to Nat Hentoff was back in 1994 and the last one was on December 7, 2016.

Below is the letter I wrote him in August of 2016:

August 9, 2016

Nat Hentoff c/o Cato Institute,

Dear Mr. Hentoff,

This is the 5th time I have written in the last three years. I just learned today that your old friend Bob Dylan is going to be in concert in October in nearby Tulsa.  I am very excited about that I am going to be there with my sons and some of their friends too.

I am really hoping that one of the songs Dylan play in Tulsa is A BALLAD OF A THIN MAN which is a song that has a lot of great meaning to it.

I have written about Dylan several times on my blog http://www.thedailyhatch.org and here is a portion below from a post I did a couple of years ago entitled: FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 25 BOB DYLAN (Part C) Francis Schaeffer comments on Bob Dylan’s song “Ballad of a Thin Man” and the disconnect between the young generation of the 60’s and their parents’ generation (Feature on artist Fred Wilson)

Bob Dylan looked into the modern thought  of the 1960’s and he saw that the educated class did not have the answers and he was looking for the answers to the big questions of life in his writings. Over and over again back then reporters were asking him what his songs meant. Actually his songs were an effort to bring up the big questions but he did not have the answers. In the song “A Ballad of a Thin Man” Dylan ridicules the reporter “Mr. Jones” throughout the song for his lack of understanding of this new generation.  “Oh my God, am I here all alone?” is the feeling that Mr. Jones has after following around Dylan because he doesn’t even to begin to understand the deep seated dissatisfaction of this new generation with the status quo. Every person that ever lived has had this feeling at one time or another and Romans chapter one discusses the inner conscience that everyone has that points them to the God of the Bible that created the world and put them on this earth for a purpose. 

Francis Schaeffer in his film series THE AGE OF PERSONAL PEACE AND AFFLUENCE  made the following points concerning the young people of the 1960’s:

I. By the Early 1960s People Were Bombarded From Every Side by Modern Man’s Humanistic Thought

II. Modern Form of Humanistic Thought Leads to Pessimism

Regarding a Meaning for Life and for Fixed Values

A. General acceptance of selfish values (personal peace and affluence) accompanied rejection of Christian consensus.

1. Personal peace means: I want to be left alone, and I don’t care what happens to the man across the street or across the world. I want my own life-style to be undisturbed regardless of what it will mean — even to my own children and grandchildren.

2. Affluence means things, things, things, always more things — and success is seen as an abundance of things.

B. Students wish to escape meaninglessness of much of adult society.

1. Watershed was Berkeley in 1964.

Bob Dylan also was writing in his music about the disconnect between the young generation of the 1960’s and their parents’ generation. Francis Schaeffer noted: It is called “A Ballad of a a Thin Man” and it apparently was written by Bob Dylan himself. Last time I read you the back cover of the album and I pointed out that when you go to the museums and also in the Theater and  in the pop records you see this same message. This is far from nothing. The very music is tremendous. It is great communication. It is like pop art. It is very destructive and just like the Theatre of the absurd although it destroys everything and leaves you with nonsense seemingly yet when you listen to the words with great care it has made a very selective destruction. Let me read the words.

Image result for bob dylan mr jones

You walk into the room
With your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you say who is that man?
You try so hard
But you don’t understand
Just what you would’ve said
When you get home

Something is happening
But you don’t know what it is
Do you Mister Jones?

You sneak into the window
And you say, “Is this where it is?”
Somebody points his finger at you
And says, “It’s his”
And you say, “What’s mine?”
Someone else says, “Where what is?”
And you say, “Oh my God, am I here all alone?”

Something is happening
But you don’t know what it is
Do you Mister Jones?

You hand in your ticket
And you go see the geek
Who walks up to you
When he hears you speak
And says, “How does it feel
To be such a freak?”
And you say, “Impossible”
As he hands you a bone

Something is happening
And you don’t know what it is
Do you Mister Jones?

You have many contacts
Out there among the lumberjacks
To get you facts
When someone attacks your imagination
But no one has any respect
Anyway they just expect
You to hand over your check
To tax deductible charity organizations

The sword swallower walks up to you
And he kneels
He crosses himself
And then he clicks his high heels
And without further notice
Asks you how it feels
And says, “Here’s your throat back
Thanks for the loan”

Something is happening
And you don’t know what it is
Do you Mister Jones?

You crawl into the room
Like a camel and you frown
You put your eyes in your pocket
And you put your nose into the ground
There ought to be a law
Against you comin’ around
You got to be made
To be wearing a telephone

But something is happening
And you don’t know what it is
Do you Mister Jones?

Something is happening here
And you don’t know what it is
Do you Mister Jones?

Songwriters
Bob Dylan

Image result for francis schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer observed:

In the June 28, 1966 issue of Look Magazine in the article on California the writer concludes, “It may seem ironical that a highly technical society demands a means for mystically exploration and this is LSD.” All of these may sound different. LSD and Bob Dylan may sounds miles apart. A tremendous art work in one of our great museums and the kids in a concert listening to Bob Dylan but in reality the message is the same. The tension is that according to all logic and rationality ALL IS ABSURD, yet man at the same time can not live with this and he is in this tremendous tension. He just can’t get away from being human. This is exactly what Paul was talking about in the Book of Romans and that man really knows about God and he knows about God in his conscience and from God’s external [creative] works.

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At one point in his life Bob Dylan did come to the same final conclusion that Solomon did so long ago in the Book of Ecclesiastes  when he observed the world around him and Dylan expressed this same conclusion in his song “Gotta Serve Somebody” back in the early 1980’s.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14:
13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.

14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.

Was Schaeffer right to point at that all people have to deal with the world that God has made around them and they must struggle with their own agnostic views because the conscience that God has given them and the evidence from the creation around them tells them that God exists? (Schaeffer’s terms are the universe and its form and the mannishness of man.)

I have a good friend who is a street preacher who preaches on the Santa Monica Promenade in California and during the Q/A sessions he does have lots of atheists that enjoy their time at the mic. When this happens he  always quotes Romans 1:18-19 (Amplified Bible) ” For God’s wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness REPRESS and HINDER the truth and make it inoperative. For that which is KNOWN about God is EVIDENT to them and MADE PLAIN IN THEIR INNER CONSCIOUSNESS, because God  has SHOWN IT TO THEM,”(emphasis mine). Then he  tells the atheist that the atheist already knows that God exists but he has been suppressing that knowledge in unrighteousness. This usually infuriates the atheist.

My friend draws some large crowds at times and was thinking about setting up a lie detector test and see if atheists actually secretly believe in God. He discussed this project with me since he knew that I had done a lot of research on the idea about 20 years ago.

Nelson Price in THE EMMANUEL FACTOR (1987) tells the story about Brown Trucking Company in Georgia who used to give polygraph tests to their job applicants. However, in part of the test the operator asked, “Do you believe in God?” In every instance when a professing atheist answered “No,” the test showed the person to be lying. My pastor Adrian Rogers used to tell this same story to illustrate Romans 1:19 and it was his conclusion that “there is no such thing anywhere on earth as a true atheist. If a man says he doesn’t believe in God, then he is lying. God has put his moral consciousness into every man’s heart, and a man has to try to kick his conscience to death to say he doesn’t believe in God.”

It is true that polygraph tests for use in hiring were banned by Congress in 1988.  Mr and Mrs Claude Brown on Aug 25, 1994  wrote me a letter confirming that over 15,000 applicants previous to 1988 had taken the polygraph test and EVERY TIME SOMEONE SAID THEY DID NOT BELIEVE IN GOD, THE MACHINE SAID THEY WERE LYING.

It had been difficult to catch up to the Browns. I had heard about them from Dr. Rogers’ sermon but I did not have enough information to locate them. Dr. Rogers referred me to Dr. Nelson Price and Dr. Price’s office told me that Claude Brown lived in Atlanta. After writing letters to all 9 of the entries for Claude Brown in the Atlanta telephone book, I finally got in touch with the Browns.

Adrian Rogers also pointed out that the Bible does not recognize the theoretical atheist.  Psalms 14:1: The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”  Dr Rogers notes, “The fool is treating God like he would treat food he did not desire in a cafeteria line. ‘No broccoli for me!’ ” In other words, the fool just doesn’t want God in his life and is a practical atheist, but not a theoretical atheist. Charles Ryrie in the The Ryrie Study Bible came to the same conclusion on this verse.

Francis Schaeffer in his book HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? noted:

In about A.D. 60, a Jew who was a Christian and who also knew the Greek and Roman thinking of his day wrote a letter to those who lived in Rome. Previously, he had said the same things to Greek thinkers while speaking on Mars Hill in Athens. He had spoken with the Acropolis above him and the ancient marketplace below him, in the place where the thinkers of Athens met for discussion. A plaque marks that spot today and gives his talk in the common Greek spoken in his day. He was interrupted in his talk in Athens, but his Letter to the Romans gives us without interruption what he had to say to the thinking people of that period.

He said that the integration points of the Greek and Roman world view were not enough to answer the questions posed either by the existence of the universe and its form, or by the uniqueness of man. He said that they deserved judgment because they knew that they did not have an adequate answer to the questions raised by the universe or by the existence of man, and yet they refused, they suppressed, that which is the answer. To quote his letter:

The retribution of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Because that which is known of God is evident within them [that is, the uniqueness of man in contrast to non-man], for God made it evident to them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived by the things that are made [that is, the existence of the universe and its form], even his eternal power and divinity; so that they are without excuse. [Roman 1:18ff.]

Here he is saying that the universe and its form and the mannishness of man speak the same truth that the Bible gives in greater detail. That this God exists and that he has not been silent but has spoken to people in the Bible and through Christ was the basis for the return to a more fully biblical Christianity in the days of the Reformers. It was a message of the possibility that people could return to God on the basis of the death of Christ alone. But with it came many other realities, including form and freedom in the culture and society built on that more biblical Christianity. The freedom brought forth was titanic, and yet, with the forms given in the Scripture, the freedoms did not lead to chaos. And it is this which can give us hope for the future. It is either this or an imposed order.

As I have said in the first chapter, people function on the basis of their world view more consistently than even they themselves may realize. The problem is not outward things. The problem is having, and then acting upon, the right world view — the world view which gives men and women the truth of what is.

Actually the answer to find meaning in life is found in putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible is true from cover to cover and can be trusted.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher, everettehatcher@gmail.com, http://www.thedailyhatch.org, cell ph 501-920-5733, Box 23416, LittleRock, AR 72221

Nat Hentoff on abortion

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Nat Hentoff, Renowned Columnist and Jazz Critic, Dead at 91

Free speech advocate also penned sleeve notes for ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’

Nat Hentoff, longtime political columnist, free speech activist and renowned jazz critic, has died at the age of 91. Stephen Lovekin/FilmMagic

Nat Hentoff, longtime political columnist, free speech activist and renowned jazz critic, has died at the age of 91.

Hentoff died Saturday of natural causes in his Manhattan apartment, his son Tom told theAssociated Press. Another of his sons, Nick Hentoff, tweeted that Nat “died surrounded by family listening to Billie Holiday.”

The Boston-born Hentoff began his career in broadcast journalism while also hosting a weekly jazz program on Boston’s WMEX. In 1953, Hentoff moved to New York City and began writing for jazz magazine Down Beat; he was fired from that job in 1957 after attempting to employ an African-American writer, the AP reports.

The following year, Hentoff joined the Village Voice, where he served as columnist for the next 50 years, writing about a myriad of subjects involving politics, education, religion and, most importantly to him, freedom of speech and First Amendment issues.

In addition to his syndicated column, Hentoff continued to write about jazz, co-founding the Jazz Review and authoring over a handful of books on the genre, including The Jazz Makers (with Nat Shapiro), The Jazz Life and Jazz Is.

Hentoff wrote over 30 books over his career, including novels, memoirs, young adult books and non-fiction works. His columns appeared in magazines ranging from Playboy (for whom he interviewed Bob Dylan) and The New Yorker to the Washington Post and New York Times.

Hentoff, an early admirer of Bob Dylan’s, also penned the long sleeve notes found on the back cover of the singer’s 1963 LP The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.

“Throughout everything he writes and sings, there is the surge of a young man, looking into as many diverse scenes and people as he can find… and of a man looking for himself,” Hentoff wrote of Dylan.

“It is this continuing explosion of a total individual, a young man growing free rather than absurd, that makes Bob Dylan so powerful and so personal and so important a singer. And you can hear it in these performances.”

In 1976, Hentoff documented his experience witnessing Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue tour in the Rolling Stone article, “On the Road With Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and the Rolling Thunder Revue.”

Hentoff also wrote the liner notes for artists like Charles Mingus, Aretha Frankin, Ray Charles and Max Roach; on the latter’s We Insist!, Hentoff is also credited as producer.

In 2004, Hentoff was the first non-musician to be named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment of the Arts. A documentary about Hentoff’s life, The Pleasures of Being Out of Step: Notes on the Life of Nat Hentoff, was released in 2014.

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