AuthorsFrom the Wire

What’s God Got to Do with It?: PW Talks with Ralph H. Craig III

In this captivating interview, Ann Byle speaks with Ralph H. Craig III, a lecturer of religion at Dartmouth, about his book, “Dancing in My Dreams.” The book explores the spiritual dimension of Tina Turner’s life, tracing her journey from her Baptist roots to her embrace of Buddhism. Craig sheds light on the various strands of religion that Turner incorporated into her life and how she viewed her own experiences. Through Turner’s story, Craig shares the importance of having a dream and a goal, and the impact of spirituality in the world. This interview offers an intriguing glimpse into the spiritual journey of an iconic figure, reminding readers of the power of resilience and the pursuit of one’s passion.


What’s God Got to Do with It?: PW Talks with Ralph H. Craig III


In a recent interview with Publishers Weekly, Ralph H. Craig III, a lecturer of religion at Dartmouth, discusses Tina Turner’s spiritual journey and the impact it has had on her life and the world. Turner, known for her iconic music career, has also been open about her religious beliefs and how they have shaped her life. Craig provides insights into Turner’s eclectic religious repertoire, her view of challenges, and the legacy she leaves behind.


Tina Turner’s spiritual path

Tina Turner’s spiritual journey is a fascinating one. Raised in the Black Baptist and Pentecostal traditions, Turner found a way to incorporate her religious upbringing into her eclectic belief system. From an early age, she was intrigued by spirituality and sought to nurture her connection with a higher power.

Craig’s background

As a lecturer of religion at Dartmouth, Ralph H. Craig III has dedicated his career to studying the intersection of faith, spirituality, and culture. His expertise in religious studies provided him with a unique perspective on Tina Turner’s spiritual journey and the impact it has had on her life.

Strands of Tina Turner’s Religion

Incorporation of her Black Baptist and Pentecostal upbringing

Tina Turner’s religious beliefs are deeply rooted in her Black Baptist and Pentecostal upbringing. She carried these traditions with her throughout her life and incorporated them into her spiritual practices. These strands of her religion served as a foundation for her spiritual growth and exploration.

Combinatory religious repertoire

Turner’s spiritual journey goes beyond the boundaries of any single religion. She developed a combinatory religious repertoire, drawing from various spiritual traditions to form her own belief system. This eclectic approach allowed her to find meaning and guidance in different religious practices.

Tina Turner’s View of her Life

Importance of going through challenges

One of the key aspects of Tina Turner’s worldview is the belief that everyone has to go through challenges in life. She embraced her own hardships, including a violent marriage, racism, sexism, and fraught relationships, as opportunities for growth and transformation. Turner’s resilience and determination are evident in her ability to overcome these obstacles and thrive.

Desire to appeal to different people

Turner’s spiritual journey was not confined to one specific group or community. She had a deep desire to appeal to people from all walks of life, regardless of their race, class, or religious background. Turner wanted to create music and art that resonated with people and allowed them to see a reflection of themselves.

Favorite Tina Turner Story

Turning point in Tina’s life: leaving Ike

A significant turning point in Tina Turner’s life was when she made the decision to leave Ike Turner, her violent and abusive husband. This pivotal moment marked the beginning of her solo career and set her on a path of self-discovery and empowerment. Ralph H. Craig III considers this to be his favorite part of Turner’s story, as it showcases her strength and determination.

Impact of Tina Turner’s Life on Buddhism

Importance of having dreams and goals

As a Buddhist himself, Craig found inspiration in Tina Turner’s view on dreams and goals. Turner believed in having a vision and holding onto it, no matter the circumstances. Her life serves as a reminder that having a dream and working towards it can lead to personal and spiritual fulfillment.

Religion as an action in the world

Turner’s spirituality went beyond personal belief and practice. She viewed religion as an action in the world, a way to make a difference and inspire others. Her art, music, and movies became mediums through which she expressed her spirituality and touched the lives of millions.

Tina Turner’s Legacy

Her art, music, and movies

Tina Turner’s legacy is primarily manifested through her art, music, and movies. Her powerful voice and electrifying performances captivated audiences worldwide. She used her platform to share her spiritual journey and connect with her fans on a deep level.

Possible rebirth

In Buddhist traditions, it is believed that someone can be reborn as early as 49 days after their passing. Ralph H. Craig III speculates that Tina Turner may have already been reborn, potentially as a child with a vibrant personality and tenacity. He sees her legacy continuing through the work of a new generation inspired by her.


Tina Turner’s spiritual journey is a testament to the power of faith and resilience. Through her music and art, she has left an indelible mark on the world. Her eclectic religious repertoire and inclusive worldview have touched the lives of many, and her legacy will continue to inspire generations to come.

About the Author

Ralph H. Craig III’s background

Ralph H. Craig III is a lecturer of religion at Dartmouth University. With a focus on the intersection of faith, spirituality, and culture, Craig brings a unique perspective to the study of religion. His expertise provided valuable insights into Tina Turner’s spiritual journey and its impact on her life and the world.