I've been reading Boyd K. Packer's book on teaching recently in an attempt to refine my personal teaching methods so I can more confidently inspire my students to become better, not just to remember facts. A good portion of the beginning of the book (I haven't finished yet) has been about the usefulness of metaphors and similes in teaching difficult, intangible subjects. One symbol he uses is the piano.
The gospel, he says, is like a large piano. If a person were to play only one key (say, the doctrine of faith) without the help of the other keys (works, for example), then that one key would grow out of tune with overuse and the individual playing the key would not benefit from the range of sounds offered by a piano when more keys are played in harmony.
That was the word that stopped me. Harmony.
Small change of topic: I've grown up listening to classical music in my home, and considered myself decently well versed in who composed what and when until a friend of mine started introducing me to the musicians rarely found on your average compilation CD. I went from a love of Vivaldi's soothing, harmonized seasons into the world of Mahler and Charles Ives, a man influenced by what happened when different marching bands played at the same time - a far cry from the typical use of a stringed instrument. Ives is excited by noise. He wants lots of it. He's interested in experimenting with what happens when two things that don't normally belong together are suddenly forced into the same space, and the results are often incredible and inspiring (and insane in the best sense of the word.) And my Ives education is only beginning.
Going back to the word harmony. If the gospel is like a piano, and people want things to be harmonized pleasantly, is there room in the gospel (or, perhaps more specifically, the culture surrounding the gospel) for the Ives' of the world? We are very comfortable and accepting of those who harmonize in normal ways - the Mozarts and Beethovens and Vivaldis and Strauss' of the world but are we as comfortable with the Mahler's and the Ives' who play the gospel piano, just differently? Should we be?
I know my answer.