Character: Disney to Dylan

I just got off the boat. Literally, a week ago. (You suspected as much, right?) Seriously, this was a Disney cruise ship (a trip courtesy of my husband’s hard work and his employer’s generosity). There were many incredible aspects of this trip and the magical majestic vessel on which we sailed the Caribbean Sea. When it comes to Disney, one thing stands out: attention to detail. I was reminded of my days as a bank trainer, when I proffered Disney as a model company. I remember telling trainees that “one would never see Goofy slouched on a park bench, smoking a cigarette on his break.” The characters on the boat did not disappoint, either.

Whether they were taking their picture with you, or you met them in a hallway being escorted to their next appearance, these characters never cracked. Snow White was unfailingly sugary sweet, soft-spoken and gentle. Even Captain Jack Sparrow never faltered. (Well…he did falter, but not from character!) When my kids went to be photographed with him, he grabbed our camera and started snapping shots of himself, swaying and mumbling the whole time. Very Captain Jack-ish. Of course, this guy wasn’t Johnny Depp, but he looked and played the part beyond convincingly.

Speaking of “playing a part,” an 80’s CCM song came to mind when I was drafting these thoughts. The chorus went something like…”Oh Lord, dear Lord, great author of the play, May I in wisdom prove the only part that I need play, Is the part that you wrote for me.” I tried to find the complete lyrics on the internet, but couldn’t. Interestingly, I could find the lyrics for every one of the Bob Dylan “gospel rock” songs for which I searched. I’m sure this has something to do with Mr. Dylan’s enduring career, but maybe it also has something to do with the fact this his lyrics seem much more substantial than those of most 80’s Contemporary Christian Music. Let’s face it, “playing a part” for God is a little timid compared to “it might be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” (Gotta Serve Somebody from the album Slow Training Coming, 1979)

I hope I haven’t confused anyone by quoting a man whose Christian character has been debated. However, I tend to agree with Scott M. Marshall and Marcia Ford, authors of the book Restless Pilgrim: the Spiritual Journey of Bob Dylan. They make the point that whatever one may say, the fact is, Dylan has never stopped including his gospel songs on his concert play lists. And he’s not exactly the type to sing something he doesn’t believe. That says something about his character, doesn’t it? Marshall and Ford conclude that, “Dylan doesn’t fit any of the religious molds that people have created, simply because Dylan’s personal expression of faith remains larger than any mold mere men ever could create. Meanwhile, as outside observers continue their effort to pigeonhole him, Bob Dylan continues to sit at the feet of the Master on his personal hillside, listening attentively, questioning respectfully, analyzing thoughtfully.” (Page 180)

The “personal hillside” analogy is kind of weird for me, but sitting at the feet of the Master, listening, questioning, and analyzing, do seem like actions that would help us all in our character-building…even more than studying Mickey and friends.


3 thoughts on “Character: Disney to Dylan

  1. Hi Bri! I'm Tak Meng from Singapore. I grew up as a teenager in the 80's inspired by the songs of Joni Eareckson. I remembered most of all her rendition of "The Part That You Wrote For Me", which you mentioned in your blog. It was very poignant for her to sing it, as it seems the only part she could play after her paralyzing accident was the part that God wrote for her. I'm grateful I could learn that without having to go through such a painful experience.I just discovered the album "Joni's Song" where the song is found available on CD on the Joni and Friends website ( You might be able to get the lyrics with the CD. If you manage to find a single song MP3 free or for purchase, do share that information with me!God bless!Tak Meng

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