Excerpt: “Jack Outside the Box” by Josh Eells, New York Times
White was brought up Catholic, and he still feels an affinity for the martyrs and saints. He likes their devotion, the purity of their sacrifice — especially St. Sebastian, the patron saint of endurance, and St. Rita, the patron saint of the impossible. He also admired Simeon Stylites, a Christian ascetic in fifth-century Syria who spent almost 40 years living atop a huge stone pillar, despite frequent entreaties to come down and not a few doubts about his motives.
White seemed to relate. “People were saying, ‘You’re just doing this for show, you’re not really devoted, you’re crazy, you’re self-indulgent,’ ” he said. “So he came down and stood on the ground and said: ‘I’m down here. Now what? Am I proving to you that this is not what it’s about?’ ” Then, White said, “he went right back up.”
White once said he has three dads: his biological father, God and Bob Dylan. Dylan was the first concert he ever saw — he says he had seat No. 666 — and he shares with his hero a love for manipulating and obscuring his own persona.
Some things we know. He was born John Anthony Gillis, the 10th of 10 children, and — in a rare instance of mythology dovetailing with reality — the seventh son. His father, Gorman, was a maintenance man at the archdiocese of Detroit; his mother, Teresa, was the cardinal’s secretary. They named him after John the Baptist.
To read Jason Eells’s full New York Times article, click HERE