There are ideas, there’s on a roll, then there’s inspiration.
Have you known inspiration? Of course you have. In my current line of work, inspiration is when the ideas come faster than the pen can write.
Painter William Chewning says that he can derive inspiration from the many curves and angles of the disassembled parts of his Farmall H tractor.
I can tell when he’s had a good year — I get called in to put the H back together.
Sculptor Benjamin Gage, in an interview with the Winchester Star, says that he looks for the Tao in a raw stone — a sort of inspiration, I might guess, anyway. Such a statement may go over my head, but Gage’s work — though abstract — is certainly evocative.
Inspiration isn’t limited to creative pursuits. I’ve even experienced inspiration picking fruit — but who is to say what a creative pursuit is? Inspiration can be fleeting and one must carpe the ol’ diem and follow through with diligence and hard work if anything is to come of it.
A cousin of mine, upon seeing the base of a large oak tree sliced into what he imagined could be table tops, decided that he could produce rustic furniture and thus be able to leave his job as a new car salesman. He even spouted reams of philosophical diatribe about the tyrany of the socio-economic structure and how glad he was to be forging his own path.
For all that weekend, he imagined himself a furniture mogul. However, come Monday he was right back at Glitz Brothers Chevrolet, his woodworking ambitions forgotten. For that weekend, though, he was inspired, but it slipped away.
There’s nothing dishonorable about that. Go ahead — dream out loud. It’s how great things happen. My cousin’s dream never materialized because he didn’t follow through.
Locally, we see a prospering business of the exact same nature where, once inspired, the owner just kept on plugging.
Back to writing — author W.P. Kinsella (“Field of Dreams”) points out that there are times when the pen pretty much goes on auto pilot and thoughts flow freely while at other times a writer has to fight for every word.
He also stresses that when it comes to reading what you’ve written, you can’t tell the difference. So, what can set off an inspiration? It’s really just a series of impulses and connections in the brain, after all.
Long dark pathways to forgotten places can be energized by scenery, music, the weather, a sincere compliment — even a series of double daiquiris. That’s the Ernest Hemmingway model: “write drunk, edit sober.” I could use a little inspiration as I write this, but the batteries must be low.
Seriously, inspiration is rare when the body’s electrolyte levels are insufficient. It’s too early in the day to apply Papa Hemingway’s tried and true formula. Oh well ...
Let’s see what our 1922 Funk and Wagnall’s Dictionary — all 6 inches thick and 17 pounds of it has to say. Here we find no fewer than 18 variations on the word “inspire.” Some are a little out there, but with 3,000 pages, they’re not afraid of wasting space.
How about “Inspired Tinker,” which is defined as “a sobriquet of John Bunyan. (By the way “Inspired Idiot” is a sobriquet of Oliver Goldsmith. Should we ever figure out what a sobriquet is, remember that you read it here first.)
Ah, here’s the one I’m looking for; definition No. 3 under “inspiration” (and probably not my best segue), which reads, in part, to wit; “supernatural divine influence exerted upon the sacred teachers and writers by the Spirit of God, by which divine authority was given to their writings.”
This definition, in turn, is broken down into 5 sub-categories: verbal, moral, mechanical, dynamical and plenary. Let’s consider the latter: “When the responsibility for the entire utterance as to its freedom from erroneous teaching rests with the divine influence.”
OK, so what’s the short version? It would appear that in 1922 that Was the short version. Remember, we still have 4 sub-categories to go.
Perhaps, going back to 65 AD and using real divine inspiration, the Apostle Paul can help us out. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for ·reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (II Timothy 3:16,17 KJV)
Rats. I didn’t know that we had to be “perfect” in order to understand and teach the Bible.
As rubber-faced comedian, Joe E. Brown, classically stated in the final scene of “Some Like it Hot:” “Nobody’s perfect.” We can’t expect to be perfect either since sin entered the world through Adam (See Romans 3:23 and 5:12). But perfect doesn’t necessarily mean, well ... perfect.
Back to Funk and Wagnall’s, 1922, where we find around 15 definitions of “perfect.” Included are “assured, positive- sound in mind, sane — thoroughly effectual, meeting the requirements of the occasion and thoroughly versed or informed.”
So, do we need to ·be “perfect” in order to be “thoroughly furnished” unto all good works? Hardly.
Consider the Greek word that Paul used — artios — which the KJV renders as “perfect.” Basically, the word means “fresh, complete.” Artios is derived from “artos” (just drop the i) which refers to — of all things — baking bread.
Remember, there weren’t so many situations from which to draw an analogy in ancient times. Greek, though the language of education and commerce in Paul’s day, was an old language even then.
However, there have always been a few images that were universally understood, such as baking bread. Artos refers to a good loaf of bread, freshly full and risen. It nowhere implies that this particular loaf is in any way superior to any other loaf and, further, may be subject to universal flaws such as a dent in the bread pan or, in the case of humans, inherited sin.
But perfect-perfect? Don’t hold your breath. It just ain’t gonna happen.
How do we know in this enlightened age — where nothing is real if it didn’t come from Amazon or Wal-Mart — that the Bible is really inspired by God? We’ve already touched on some physical observations that can’t be otherwise explained in earlier installments.
Here’s another thing to consider. Though the churches may not be quick to point this out, there’s a consistent theme that runs throughout the Bible. That’s 66 books, 36 writers and a period of 1,609 years, all in agreement. Just try that today. (II Timothy 3:1-5).
I rest my case.