I’m a child of the 1960s. My formative years as a teenager were spent listening to the music of the Doors, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and, of course Bob Dylan. We got high together, we got drunk together, and we had our first escapades into liberated sex listening to their lyrics. The times were a delirious mix of rebellious freedom and social ostracism. Preachers, teachers, and parents warned of the deleterious effects our behavior would have on the sanctity of American society. And we did not care! Those very same preachers, teachers, and
parents had lied to us about the black man’s plight, the Vietnam War, the murders of JFK, RFK, and MLK, Jr. and we were angry. Music was our voice and, dammit, America was going to listen!
Dylan came out with “Everybody Must Get Stoned” around 1966. The ‘over 40’ crowds fumed over such an overt embrace of the drug culture where getting stoned was the hip talk for smoking marijuana. Had they taken time to listen to the lyrics they would have realized Bob Dylan was referring to the ancient punishment of stoning for a variety of sins committed against society and religion. Just as Dylan took substantial heat from the status quo of his era, we will always be stoned, perhaps not literally but certainly figuratively, for the stands we take against corrupt government and false religious doctrine.
Stephen, a Greek-speaking Hellenistic Jew and early follower of the teachings of Jesus, according to the Book of Acts became the 1st Christian martyr. Having been accused of blasphemy against God by the ruling Jewish hierarchy and refusing to recant his loyalty to the Way of Jesus, he was stoned to death by a group of men under the leadership of Saul, later known as Paul upon his conversion.
It doesn’t matter whether I accept this account of Stephen as historical fact or if I see it as a statement of moral compass, a spiritual lesson to be gleaned from the Christian scriptures. What matters is whether this story prompts me to ask of myself, “What is Larry going to do when he gets stoned? Will he cave to the pressure or will he stand tall?”
Lord, I’m just a weak traveler in this world trying to make a difference in somebody’s life. But, today I know from where my strength comes, I know who shepherds me through the valleys, I know who loves me as a Father. When the stones come hurling towards me because of my loyalty to you, help me remember that everybody must get stoned.