A Different Drummer

Humans have the oddest relationship to conformity – it’s part sleepwalking ambivalence and part cognitive dissonant reaction. There’s a baseline anthropology driving our default psychology in regards to conformity, like an elastic band keeping us from straying too far, before it snaps us back into line . . . until like a toddler we begin to wobbly wander off in another direction. But by and large, most people follow socially normative expectations with agreeable compliance.

Ironically, many assume that the popular counter cultural persona they carefully maintain, based on what is currently counter culturally acceptable, somehow places them outside of conformity . . . and I just don’t have the heart to break it to them that it really doesn’t matter how much ink, metal bits, or smarmy aloof posturing – they’re still conforming . . . as I’m pretty sure the irony of this is completely lost on them.

Then there are those odd birds, who are simply contrarian – imagining that this qualifies as defying conformity . . . not realizing that all of their contrary choices are entirely predicated on their reaction to social norms – which of course means they’re still tethered to the cultural script, dancing to the same tune . . . albeit, with a measure of contempt for having to play along.

But with the artistically inclined, there usually isn’t so much a deliberate reaction or response to conformity, as such. For the creative mind, the social norms, which for most people, end up being either followed or challenged – are mostly ignored. Not really as a conscious defiance, but mostly out of a lack of sensitivity to the social queues. It’s because they’re preoccupied, listening for a different call, following a different path –which ends up taking up all of their attention. As an artist, I’m well acquainted with this blithe state of altered focus . . . and it is not easily explained.

B4rbqxvIUAIOdKxThe operative dynamic here is one of perception. The common perception detects the most conspicuous patterns of mannerism and behavior, language and value, apparent in the culture. But for the artist, with a different drummer in his head, he perceives many layers of pattern at work – the places where harmony and dissonance are vibrating beneath the surface of the culture . . . to see the beauty and the brokenness that often hides in the details of how life is lived.

In Romans 12:1-2 we are admonished to worship God by sacrificing the life we have, and this can only occur as God transforms us, renewing the way we perceive the world, letting go of the common patterns of conformity, so that we might recognize the deeper patterns of God’s will at work in the world. Then in Romans 8: 28-29 we discover that we are being conformed to the image of Christ, which is the very transformation in chapter 12 at work, allowing us to perceive all of the circumstances of our life as working for the good . . . regardless of the world’s perception of our circumstance.

I guess you could say that Jesus is the different drummer in our head, creating a different cadence that we might walk in by faith, allowing a different melody to be sung – a song of hope, a song we can sing everywhere we go . . . to everyone we meet. Can you hear that? That’s Jesus calling you to live in the power of his life – by seeing the world in a whole new way!


. . . and here’s the song I wrote to prove it.

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5 thoughts on “A Different Drummer

  1. You’re making me think! You do that a lot. I’ve spent an unimaginable amount of time trying to fit in, well, not exactly. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling like I’ve been on the outside looking in and wondering what makes that happen.

    I’ve noticed that as I get older, I care less about fitting in or about how others see me. I’ve realized that sadly, though I didn’t realize it at the time, I’ve cared way too much about all that. It’s a hobbling habit that I always thought I had escaped but as you say above, it’s doing its thing subconsciously most of the time.

    Even with the hobble in place, the spark of artist still perceives things differently. Even if they aren’t acted upon. It has made me see things differently, even if it didn’t change my behavior..

    And then you bring God into it! As if God isn’t in everything. The closer I get to the relationship I yearn for with Him, the more I have realized what you point out. His path bends further and further away from the norm. Though I wouldn’t have believed that when I was younger in my walk, it is completely true. I came seriously to His path very much as an adult. I’ve learned that we can go through the motions with Him but still be very far away from Him in reality. I’m thinking that there will come a time when, not only are we shuffling to the beat of a different drum but actually dancing to the melody of a completely different band.

    Oh, and the music, as always Greg, becomes my latest favorite.

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    • By design we were always meant to fit into the pattern — but the fall skewed and flattened out the richness of the pattern. So, in many ways, we’ve all become disparate parts trying to figure out how to fit together again — because intuitively we know we belong . . . and in Jesus we begin to remember where and why we belong.

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      • I think the remembering the “where and why we belong” part can take a very long time. Especially when I spend so much time trying to slow my brain down long enough to listen. Too much swimming around up in there.

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  2. One of your best imho Greg. Fully ageee but one slight, slight caveat: “For the creative mind, the social norms, which for most people, end up being either followed or challenged – are mostly ignored. Not really as a conscious defiance, but mostly out of a lack of sensitivity to the social queues.” You go on to further explain, rightly so, why. For myself best as I can honestly discern, I spend a great deal of time considering what in my
    view are trends or concepts either set in stone traditions or fresh flavor of the moment stuff. What seems in line with Jesus’ words, actions, indeed commands and what does not? Once considered I write, sing, interact artistically. Thanks much! -Glenn

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    • Caveat accepted — but it doesn’t really seem at variance to my point. You said “I spend a great deal of time considering what in my view are trends or concepts either set in stone traditions or fresh flavor of the moment stuff.” It sounds like what you do is look beyond the superficial patterns within culture, to identify the deeper patterns, that either resonate with Christ, or are at odds with him . . . which is what I’m talking about in my fifth paragraph.

      I trust you enjoyed my song as well . . .

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