Rest in Peace Dwight Ozard

We just recieved word that Dwight Ozard died; singer-songwriter Nick Giaconia shared the sad word with Dwight’s amazing list—social activists, Nashville musicians, writers, his large circle of friends and family. That my last post was about, among other people, author David Dark and singer Sarah Mason–friends of Dwight’s–seems poignant to me. Dwight would have loved the vibe at the Messiah pop culture conference and was one of the more astute music critics I knew, always wishing evangelical Christians, especially, were more aware of the ways deeply sustaining music was a gift from God, even if not explicitly religious.
The last time we talked on the phone–a year ago, maybe–we talked nonstop about recording artists we liked, lyrics that sustained us, the hope that some in the CCM world break out of the cliched God-talk and offer truly poetic and authentic songs about life here East of Eden. He bought an album I recommended, but never heard if he liked it.
Dwight was the editor of Prism magazine for a while, and for a long while had a great, great music column there. He nurtured a wholistic social vision among progressive CCM types (think Jars of Clay, say) and befriended astute singer song-writers such as Bill Mallonee, Pierce Pettis and Julie & Buddy Miller and bands like The Choir or the 77’s. He worked for Tony Campolo for a while, and did a helpful stint as director of publicity–minister of communication or something–for Habitat for Humanity. The last year or so he was busy loving his family, keeping a remarkable, extraordinary diary of his struggle with cancer, and doing some pretty cool ghost writing. He and I talked more than once about his hopes to finish a book or two. Some of his excellent essays (some of which I use in teaching and talks I do) can be found at his website in his “Lover’s Quarrel With the Church” section. His brillant record reviews are in the “Dancing About Architecture” section, here.
I commend to you his last few journal entries in his blog posts. He has a very enthusiastic and kind kudos to caregivers and nurses who took him out before a serious procedure. His earthy appreciation for great food and robust drink and good friends just shouts of his wholesome love for life, his conviction that God shows up amidst these eucharistic moments, and his thoughtfulness as he gives credit to those who help others (in this case, him.) His pray requests nearly always included a reminder to pray for those who had no support network, those sick without friends or pray teams or people bringing meals and sending cards. His passion for the disenfranchised and his Christ-like care for the outcast was real, even in his illness. All the more I feel a need to write this little tribute.
Words fail. I report this with sadness but with the hope of resurrection. We will meet again.
How do people cope with the huge sufferings of our world without deep convictions about the truth of the claims of Christ?
Nick wrote this in his note tonight: our good friend Dwight Ozard is home, and safe in the arms of our Savior. Although we will miss him more than words can express we can all be thankful that his suffering is over and he is truly healed.
Yes. Truly healed.
Please pray for all those who suffer, the sick and the sad, this world, so badly in need of substantial healing. But tonight, pray for his wife Sheri and his beloved and grieving family.

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