“What we have here, is a failure to Communicate”

‘What we have here, is a failure to Communicate’ -Lucas Jackson (Cool Hand Luke)

As an observer of many things, everything to be precise, I came upon a crowd gathered around the bell-tower of Western Carolina University, April tenth, 2002. With curiosity getting the best of me, and a chance to spend a little time outside, I ventured further and found an amazing sight. One Reverend Birdsong, perched upon a cement bench, sweating, overly boisterous, conservatively business dressed, bible in one hand, finger pointing with the other. What then, might be expected from a man such as this? The crowd, struck in amazement, panting furiously, and easy to revolt every sentiment that came from Reverend Birdsong’s mouth became my entertainment for the following three or some odd hours. ‘God preaches love you dumb-f***!’ A red-faced gentleman said aloud beside me, almost quivering with disgust. ‘I had sex just last night!’ a young lady pronounced as she nonchalantly walked through the crowd raising her hand for acceptance from them. ‘This man is so full of s***’ another young man said casually shaking his head looking at me as a group of students held a prayer session behind us. Many came to argue, others came to laugh and poke fun at the lone man, I took an opportunity to watch and listen. Where I want to go from here is solely from an observational point of view, casting judgments for or against the events that took place that sunny day of April 10, 2002, is just not my style. What was known was that Reverend Birdsong held his beliefs strongly in conviction to his heart. He held them so strong that he was willing to humiliate himself in front of total strangers whom he may or may not have been in contact with prior to that day. He talked of the ways of the World, a World which is full of sin, sin being transgressions, willful transgressions, against God. In doing so he made notice of the assumption that lesbians, homosexuals, ‘frat’ boys and sorority girls, beer drinkers, and pot smokers were all going to hell. Backing for his assumptions were given in few, sporadic tales of Birdsong’s life. Mentioning of his life he had before he was saved, and the feeling of grace he held after he was saved, in 1979, he wanted to relay the point that Christians, God fearing Christians, could live a sinless life once the day of grace being known as ‘saved’ has happened. Believing very much that this man felt he was appointed to witness to others I could not help myself but to respect this man for doing an event he was called to do. Personally, I do not believe I could have enough gumption to try and throw by beliefs out in the open as this man had done. Though I may have found some of his arguments fallible in certain directions, the fact that Reverend Birdsong felt convicted to preach his gospel will always remain. For those willing to sit and listen, with an open mind and a hypothetical open heart, there may have been a chance to learn something new. The arguments made for, against, coinciding and irrelevant to what Birdsong wanted to say were anything but new. One man raised his hand and voiced an ‘If God…’ question, posing silence to the rest of the crowd as if he held the ultimate truth in his bank account. Little be known to this person that the same question had been asked and thought of more times over by theologians, philosophers and many others on more intellectual levels higher and lower to him for years. I could not help but laugh. I wished he would have saved it just for arguments sake. But many still say ‘But I believe…’, ‘Don’t you think…’, ‘What about…’, ‘Did you ever think about…’ and my favorite ‘I know…’. All aspects to the theories that Birdsong wanted to postulate himself. In conclusion to the venue I watched April tenth, I came to realize that some people do not want to be told ‘they’re wrong’. Some would rather be slapped in the face than to recognize a more ‘hot’ alternative. While Birdsong held fast to his opinion some danced and laughed, joking of days they would spend in hell smoking weed and fornicating with their fellow sinners. A day I hope none ever face. But finding fallacious statements in an argument for or against such religious dogmatic truths will probably always occur. For the most part we are human and cannot help to be the way we are in certain circumstances. This does not mean we have the right to disillusion ourselves to the meaning of others. What do we do then? I’ll leave you with some wise words from a human named Oliver Wendell Holmes, ‘Knowledge speaks, while wisdom listens’. Now what are you going to do?

David Pegg