Marshall Macluhan once said,
The role of the artist is to create an anti-environment as a means of perception and adjustment.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized how similar the roles of artists and prophets are. They are both asked to create a bridge between reality and our (often misconstrued) views of reality. Too often, as Christians and church-goers, we think of prophets as foretellers of the future. But in reality, that just might be missing the mark. Instead, we should see the prophets as forth-tellers, people that explain the current plight of the people. Eugene Peterson writes,
What [the prophets] do is haul us unceremoniously into a reality far too large to be accounted for by our explanations and expectations. They plunge us into mystery, immense and staggering. Their words and visions penetrate the illusions with which we cocoon ourselves from reality.
Prophets are the ones who speak truth into our lives, who are brutally honest with us, shaking us to our core, making us tremble in our shoes. Making us stop and see ourselves for who we truly are. Just like artists do. They want you to stop in your tracks. To reflect upon their work and hopefully then hopefully turn the reflection inward. I think that’s why people can be uncomfortable around artists. And prophets for that matter. Prophets acted in so many strange ways. We have to look no further than Ezekial, who not only laid on his side for 390 days, but also cooked his food over human dung. Prophets and artists may not always act normal, but that’s not who they are. What they do is force us to realize how our view of what constitutes being normal is flawed, and how we must continually realign to reality. This is why we need artists. And this is why we need prophets.