On many, many occasions I find that our musical artists preach a much better sermon than all the preachers I ever heard. For me a perfect example is the song written by Steve Wariner called We Just Disagree which came to my attention on the radio just today. In particular, the line that hit me was this: There ain't no good guys. There ain't no bad guys. There's only you and me and we just disagree. I don't recall ever having paid particular attention to these words though I have heard this song before. What a profound message for our day, when disagreement over numerous issues roils our nation and results in rampant mean spiritedness across the political and ethnic spectrum.
What an astoundingly powerful and generally dismissed idea Wariner expresses in these
few words. We can disagree and don't have to label one another as fools and enemies. What would the national dialogue and interaction look like if we could somehow embrace this as the real truth. The political, religious, and ethical certitude expressed by so many of us would have to dissolve in the face of a requisite humility and mutual respect.
We are bound to disagree on countless things, but that disagreement does not have to draw a line between friends and enemies. It could easily mark the opportunity for mutual growth and a shared wisdom.
So what is it about artists that allows them to project to us these tidbits of spiritual wisdom? I believe it is none other than the working of inspiration, which many in Christianity believe is the mechanism by which God speaks eternal truths to us. Somewhere in the deepest recesses of our mind and heart God speaks and we often fail to listen. Those among us who do occasionally listen hear a message which they can then choose to share with the world. That is the real working of inspiration.
The concept of inspiration is very much a part of our American religious tradition. The Bible, our revered religious textbook, is said to be inspired in the sense that it contains divine wisdom direct to all mankind's attention. Unfortunately, many believe that such inspiration and such wisdom is confined to the pages of that book. Those of this mind disallow the idea that men can recognize and communicate divine truths by listening to their own heart.
No doubt some hear voices and message which don't originate with God, but those voices are easily recognized. They don't reflect the love, humility, and selflessness which always distinguish true wisdom and define abundant living. These counter intuitive virtues are so rare and powerful for the very reason that they defy our natural tendencies to reject, condemn, segregate from, oppress, and even kill one another.
Unfortunately, the destructive behaviors and attitudes above are reinforced by the church's normal interpretation of the Bible. Therefore, when others are inspired to challenge the church's mindset, they are usually shouted down as evil or misguided. The contention is that past inspiration and the church's understanding of it overrules all else. One might wonder whether the church's source of inspiration is not more the carnal mind instead of the sacred one, since what their doctrine inculcates so naturally appeals to our baser tendencies. When the artist mind challenges the carnal mind and its natural tendencies, I suspect it more nearly reflects divine inspiration than much that institutional religion teaches as such.