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Rev. Dr. Pitman B. Potter Reveals 'The Gospel and the Grateful Dead'

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Rev. Dr. Pitman B. Potter Reveals 'The Gospel and the Grateful Dead'

Vancouver, British Columbia

The Rev. Dr. Pitman B. Potter was first introduced to the Grateful Dead in 1969 as a St. Albans student in Washington, DC. From then on, he was hooked. With the help of friends, he devoted himself to learning the Dead's music. Supported by friends, he played guitar in a variety of bands devoted to carrying on the Dead's musical legacy. Through many decades of listening, attending, playing, and reflecting on the music and message of the Grateful Dead, Potter was drawn inescapably to the conclusion that these resonate with the spirit of the Divine.

"The Gospel and the Grateful Dead" examines the linkages between the music and message of the Grateful Dead and the Christian Gospel. It analyzes the ways in which the Dead embodied Christian teachings in their commitment to community, their musicality and lyricism, and their manifestation of grace. The Grateful Dead emerged from the San Francisco "hippie" scene in the late 1960s, and while drawing on the teachings of many spiritual traditions, the band's ethos echoed quite powerfully the wisdom of Christian Scripture. This reflection examines the ways in which the Grateful Dead embodied Christian teachings in areas of community, praise, and service.

The Grateful Dead embodied more than music. They stood for a system of values receptive to divine wisdom and extolled relationships with earthly communities in ways that were unique in both their content and their power and longevity. Their improvisational music emphasized community access and Divine encounter. Their song lyrics conveyed messages about solidarity with the world and reconciliation with the Divine. And the life and work of Jerry Garcia exemplified the call of self-sacrifice for communities and friends, which in Garcia's case extended to sacrifice unto death. The Dead took personal subjectivities to a high level and were able to carry out this project for more than thirty years, largely because of a secure community of supporters and in spite of repeated efforts by economic interests and political authority to silence them.


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