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Prophets (Home recording)
On the voices we filter out
All of the prophets already came,
You simply called them ridiculous names.
All of the poets put words on the page,
You simply wrote them off as new age.
Even your own folk tried to tell,
You simply bade them all farewell.
And when the women tried to speak it,
You simply told them all to submit.
Now who’s here
For you to hear
Even if you had
All of the heretics tried to say,
You simply drove them all away.
All of the mystics tried to speak out,
But you simply filtered everyone one.
All of the queer ones to reveal,
You simply told them their faith wasn’t real.
Even Jesus, the one you call Christ,
Was trying to speak, not just give up his life.
Now who’s here
For you to hear
Even if you had
Even the rocks are crying out
Even the trees are crying out
Even the birds are crying out
Even the earth is crying out, for crying out loud
All is here
Have no fear
May we all have ears
Who do we write off as being wrong-by-default, without considering their perspectives?
Which perspectives might you still be resistant to hearing?
Some self-proclaimed “prophets” are here to manipulate and coerce, and cause irrevocable damage. Not all who claim divine inspiration can be trusted; some create cults, some hide abuses, some mislead. Caution and care is needed.
And some offer quiet, contradictory voices to the pell-mell pursuits of our day. Some offer slow-down questions to the dug-in traditions and biases we hold.
What happens when we hear a voice or perspective that runs contrary to our own established ways?
Do we filter it out as a kneejerk reaction, to stay safe?
Is there an alternate approach — of curiousity, love, openness — that helps us respect the stories of the other, challenge our own accepted wisdom, and move towards new ways of seeing things?
I’ve heard a pastor proclaim the wisdom of Bob Marley’s prophetic vision in Redemption Song: “How long shall they kill our prophets, while we stand aside and look? Won't you help to sing / These songs of freedom? 'Cause all I ever have / Redemption songs.” - while the same tradition has condemned ‘secular’ music outright as being a corrupting influence.
I’ve heard a pastor snarl judgement against Richard Rohr, to my face, for being a “heretic” — while meanwhile this writer’s impassioned plea for a love that rises to embrace all could not be more inclusive. The same goes for writers Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, whose clarity and wisdom rings with prophetic truth, but who I’ve seen banned and excluded from churches unwilling to question their own ways, and would sooner shut out the voices of conflict than hear the call to reconsider.
And I’ve sat in a meeting where a young woman was excluded from leading in church because of her sexual orientation. We’d sooner get our labels right for who is in and out, than honour the value of the human being in front of us. This isn’t right.
If we keep filtering out the voices of truth-speakers, who will be left for us to listen to?
If we keep filtering out the voices of those we disagree with, who will be left for us to listen to?
I have many stories, vignettes and moments I could tell — of times I wrote off not just authors and creators, but entire categories of people on the basis of their category being “wrong,” only to discover the heartbreaking, illuminating truth under the surface. I think of the fear that once animated me, keeping me resistant and ambivalent towards the art of those who didn’t fit neatly into the right zones. And yet I think of the transformation that has unfolded as I have realized that all that divides us are our stories themselves. It pains me to think of the years lost, the human dignity missed, the love squandered, by this closed-ness.
Especially now, as our earth burns, what will cause us to be open to the cries of those sharing what we need to hear? Whatever space on whatever spectrum you find yourself, may we have the humility to listen to the perspectives to which we are closed.
The twist at the end is an invitation to humility for myself. May I, too, have ears to hear perspectives that may at first seem challenging. If we are to create a new fundamentalism or rigid dogma through a perspective like this, where now only THIS camp is correct and THIS camp is wrong, we’ve done no shifting at all. It is not perspective A or author B that carries the truth; the truth is evidenced and alive even through the earth itself. All is here — no categories or definitions required — may we have no fear, to entertain the perspectives that contrast our current beliefs, and be open to being people of love.