Biblical illiteracy in pop culture

This is beyond trivial—not to mention ancient history—but for reasons I can’t explain I was mesmerized by this clip from the making of “We Are the World,” in which Daryl Hall for some reason can’t stop looking at his music—even though he only has one short line! And it’s not like he’s reading the music because he sings it differently each take! But he’s not nearly as bad as Kim Carnes. Huey Lewis must be a genuinely nice guy, because notice how patient he is with her as she continually fails to stay on key.

Steve Perry is the real hero here, though. He changes the phrasing and vocal melody each time through, but whatever he does sounds perfect. He’s so nonchalant about it, too.

All that to say that while I was wasting time on YouTube, I heard the original song for the first time in 25 years. I noticed something I had never noticed before: Willie Nelson sings, “As God has shown us/ By turning stone to bread…”


Isn’t that exactly what God (through Jesus) doesn’t do during the wilderness temptation? Moses gets water from a rock, but Jesus refuses to turn stone to bread—because, as he quotes from scripture, we human beings don’t live by bread alone.

How come nobody caught this? (I hope that if it were Bob Dylan’s line to sing, he would have pointed out this error.)

Someone with more time on their hands should probably reflect on the irony in this mistake—as it relates to the nature of temptation, celebrity, and greed, etc.—but that’s not me. Not that I credit Michael Jackson or Lionel Richie (who wrote those words?) with being Bible scholars, but I’m genuinely surprised that that mistake slipped through.

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