Wednesday, 22 February 2006

Kicking open the door to your mind

Back in 1988, Bruce Springsteen described the first time he heard a Bob Dylan song: “The first time I heard Bob Dylan, I was in the car with my mother ... and on came that snare shot that sounded like somebody had kicked open the door to your mind: ‘Like a Rolling Stone.’”

This is a wonderful account not only of the power of “Like a Rolling Stone,” but also of a certain kind of human experience. Suddenly, when you least expect it, something “kicks open the door to your mind,” and you know that you will never see the world in quite the same way again.

I have had a few very striking experiences of this kind. One day, when I was a little boy in my first year of school, I saw a little girl who had no lunch. The sight of her disturbed me—but only later that day (when it was too late) did it dawn on me that I should have shared my lunch with her. For some reason, this realisation shocked me, and I have never forgotten it.

Then when I was 10 years old, I spent my Christmas holidays reading Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. This, too, was something that “kicked open the door to my mind”—it took me outside myself in a way I had never experienced before.

Then there was the day I picked up a dusty old copy of Karl Barth’s book, The Word of God and the Word of Man (now re-translated as The Word of God and Theology). As I read this book, the whole word suddenly appeared in a new light. Everything looked different—to quote another Bob Dylan song, “I got new eyes.” By the time I reached Barth’s statement that “one can not speak of God simply by speaking of man in a loud voice,” the door to my mind had been well and truly kicked open.

What about you? What has kicked your mind open?

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