This blog is dedicated to Bishop Carlton Pearson, who refused to let anyone infringe upon his personal Divinity. In the process, he lost his church of about 5,000 weekly attendee’s. Bishop Pearson is a very dynamic and powerful man, while at the same time, as gentle as a man could be. Once I had the honor of standing beside him for a few moments, and his energy was such, that I will never forget those few moments. I hope one day to stand beside him once again, as I know that he and his Divinity are here to stay. (Read about Bishop Pearson HERE)
When two people look at a piece of art, they may have two entirely different perceptions. When people read poetry or when they listen to songs, the very same thing occurs.
This is one reason that I don’t often like to explain my paintings or my songs to people. I rather enjoy allowing a person to have their own unique experience with a painting or a song. More than once I have answered the question honestly, only to watch someone’s face fall into disappointment. They say, “Oh, I thought it was about something else entirely.”
It ruins their experience.
I have written songs that were blatant and simple statements, still to find that just about everyone hear’s something entirely different when they listen with their ears.
The truth is that we have our own personal experience with everything.
A great example that comes to mind is when one night I played the Pink Floyd song called “Wish You Were Here”. A young man came up to me and began to tell me how great I was and how that was his favorite song. Finally he said, “You just don’t know how much I love that song, they played it at my brother’s funeral.”
This isn’t about me, and it isn’t even about the song! This is about the fact that it was played at his brother’s funeral. It reminded him of his brother. It stirred his emotions. In all probability, the song was not his favorite song at all, but had been a favorite of his deceased brother. The young man had his own personal experience with the song, that nobody else could have. The song probably has a different meaning to everyone.
When it comes to religion, this very same thing seems to happen. Two people read a scripture, and the scripture has a different meaning to each.
Even the most direct and blatant statements can mean one thing to you, and something entirely different to me. But when it comes to religion, there are many people in the world who will insist that the scripture must mean the exact same thing to me, as it does to them.
As a result of this, we have a whole bunch of confused and disturbed people in the world. People get disillusioned, they get angry and defensive, and many people have just simply abandoned organized religion. People turn away from God because of this. When I was a boy I felt, “Maybe something is wrong with me?” When I read the scriptures and the Bible stories, they meant something entirely different to me than to my Sunday school teacher and my minister.
And it wasn’t okay.
They told me I would go straight to hell if I didn’t believe. They told me that I had better believe what they believed. I better see the way they saw. They offered me what they called “salvation”, but I had to see things their way.
No wonder there are so many people who have been turned off by church. No wonder there are so many people who say that they don’t understand. No wonder that there are so many people who have thrown up their hands and said, “I am an atheist!”
And it is all because one person or a group of people decide that a scripture must mean the same exact thing to everyone else.
This is the craziest phenomenon that I know of.
How dare you insult and question someone’s intelligence. How dare you question someone in this manner? How dare you deny someone their own personal experience? And how dare you tell someone how much God loves them and how Jesus “died on the cross for you” in one breath, and threaten “eternity in hell” in the next?
I am curious, have you ever read something, and then read it again at a later time in your life, only to find that now it means something entirely different than it did the first time you read it? Is it the words you read that have changed? Or is it you?
Do you understand the idea that you have your own personal relationship with your favorite song, and that nobody else on the planet can have that same relationship? A song or a painting, or even a scripture from any sacred religious text, means exactly what it means to you.
I did not tell the young man what the song “Wish You Were Here” was about and who it had actually been written for. The circumstances were different. The writer of the song wrote the song about a specific person and a specific situation.
And I think everyone should be allowed to have their own personal relationship with the song. I also think that people should be allowed to have their own personal relationship with scriptures.
For me to tell you that you must have a particular understanding and a particular experience with a song, a painting, a poem, a novel, or a scripture, is for me to take your Divinity away.
And I want you to think about that. Who has the right to take away someone’s Divinity? It is perfectly fine for me to share with you what something means to me, but it is far from okay for me to insist that it has the same meaning for you. As a matter of fact, this would be an impossibility.
One day after many years in exile from the Bible, I decided to read it again, and this time, I would read it for my self. I spent years studying the Tao Te Ching and Buddhism, and had found great meaning in these religion’s from the east. Now I felt led to have my own experience with the west.
Soon my life began to change drastically, and this is not an over-statement. After thirty years of cursing western religion and their Bible, I found myself at a church. Then I found myself playing music at the church. Before I knew it, yes… I found myself standing in front of a congregation with a microphone in hand, delivering the Sunday message.
I had decided to reclaim my Divinity, and to reclaim my own understanding. I had decided to respect myself and my intelligence. I had decided that whatever the scripture meant to me, was what it meant to me. Before I knew it, I was cast into a brand new world that was full of many others who had found similar meaning in the scriptures.
But what is different about my church is that we want you to have your own personal experience with scripture, no matter what it may be. We hope that you have your own experience, rather than someone else’s experience, or rather than trying to have an experience that someone tells you that you should have. Read it for yourself and let it mean to you what it means. (I should probably speak for myself rather than for “my church”, but this is the experience that I am having)
Don’t take away someone’s Divinity.
One last thing is that when you have a dream, the best person to interpret it is YOU. It is the same when you listen to music, look at a painting, read a poem or a book, or a scripture. Have your own experience and know that this is your own personal experience that nobody else in the world can have. Know that this is your Divinity. This is the Divine that you are. If you encounter someone who finds different meaning in something than you do, don’t be surprised. See that this is their Divinity. (hopefully not someone else’s, but you can never be too sure.)
In part two on this topic, we are going to explore why someone would want to insist on taking away someone’s Divinity. We will explore why a person would insist that you believe and find the same meaning in something that they do.
You might just be surprised.