Tolerance is a word that has been greatly used the last few years. I’m very much a redneck and typically have not liked that word. However, I have not liked it as it relates to moral and social issues. I think you know what I’m getting at. But that isn’t the discussion here.

I’m talking about personal tastes and how we handle strong feelings and opinions concerning style. Particularly how we relate to those whose tastes and opinions are different from ours. The area I want to deal with is musical tastes. I know this opens Pandora’s Box but stay with me here, I’m going somewhere!

Let me give you a couple definitions for tolerance, “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.” Here’s another, “interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one’s own; a liberal, undogmatic viewpoint.” Interesting, huh?

I recently attended a great Bluegrass Festival. For the most part the bands booked on the show were traditional Bluegrass bands, all of whom were nationally known touring acts. There were however a band or two that steps out of the traditional Bluegrass box to one degree or another.

I heard mostly positive comments about the festival. The crowd loved every band and every performance. There were many encores and encores weren’t given, they were earned! I’m sure every fan in attendance had favorites, but as a whole , comments I heard were very favorable.

As usual there have been some negative comments and as always those seem to be the loudest. I’m not going to articulate here what those negative comments were because it really doesn’t matter ¬†‘what’ was said, but that they were said at all. The attitude behind those kinds of remarks are really the issue.

I learned to love Bluegrass music as a young boy. I listened to Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, The Osborne Brothers and Jim & Jesse. Their music touched my soul and moved me greatly. Though it was years before I was involved with Bluegrass I’ve always loved it.

I understand strong feelings and opinions when it comes to music. I too have favorites and there have been times when I’ve heard something that didn’t fit my definition of the music. It challenged me to adjust and make changes in my thinking.

Let me get to my point……..

If we have the attitude that Bluegrass fits a particular box and cannot be outside the box, then it gets stale, stagnates and eventually dies. It’s like a body of water. There must be water coming in and a way for the water to flow out. This keeps it fresh, clean and alive.

The same is true for Bluegrass music. Yes, there is a foundation and the music must be built on the foundation but we must not shut off the flow of new creativity. In order for the music to grow and prosper we must welcome fresh ideas while keeping the music on the foundation built by the pioneers.

Remember, at one time the pioneers were young and brought new, sometimes controversial ideas into the music. Why do we call them pioneers? Because they were creating something new and exciting that hadn’t been done before!

Bill Monroe, considered the Father of Bluegrass, was indeed very innovative and I’m sure as he was developing the style we all love today was criticized for some of the new things he was doing. Later in his career there were examples of him extending his respect to younger artists who were doing it a little different than he did it. I believe he knew that in order for the music to survive and thrive there had to be tolerance for change.

Music always changes with the culture. Bluegrass music has changed and is ever changing. It can’t be stopped! It changes because it’s alive! A new generation of musicians, ¬†writers and singers are keeping it alive. We should be tolerant and respectful of those who bring new ideas and sounds to the stage. We have no reason to be afraid because the music is built on a strong foundation. Let’s work to keep that foundation alive and vibrant while exploring new frontiers of this great music we call Bluegrass!

Study the definitions of tolerance. Be open to a new understanding and respect for tastes and styles different from yours. That’s a good thing.

By the way, this is part of the vision of the Greater Ozarks Bluegrass Society that has been formed recently here in Southwest Missouri. For more information go to:

Cogitate on this for a while!

Gene Reasoner


Over the recent Labor Day holiday week-end I had the pleasure of flying with my good friend and radio co-host Mark Withers to Atlanta, Georgia to attend the Nascar races at Atlanta Motor Speedway. We’ve been talking about doing it for a couple of years and it finally came to pass. Though the Sprint Cup race was rained out we did see a great Nationwide race and witnessed the great Missouri driver Carl Edwards winning that race in great fashion!

Many times when we plan something special and fun like that trip we fail to consider that God may have other purposes for those events in addition to the pleasure we receive from it. Looking back on that trip I believe this to be the case.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was to stay with and be hosted by my great friend Chuck Day and his lovely wife Selena. Chuck and I have been close friends since the days we spent running the roads and performing together during the 90’s, he with his group The Days and me with the band White River. Those were two of the pioneer bands in Christian Country music and we made lots of memories together. During the week-end we had some great fellowship. We reminisced about old times and had some good discussions about the Lord and his Word. Food was a part of the occasion as well! We talked about ministry and the changes that had taken place in our ministries the last several years.

At the race track on Sunday evening waiting on the rain to stop we “just happened” to be standing under the grandstand having a soft drink and some peanuts. As you can imagine, in that atmosphere many people were consuming adult beverages and at a certain point a man approached us and commented on my Jeff Gordon cap. This person had consumed more that a few beers by this time and his tongue was “loosed” and he was talking 90 words per minute with gusts up to 140! Every other word was a vulgarity but he was very friendly and engaging.

My first thought was to end the conversation as soon as possible and get away from the offensive language. But he was hard to stop and as he rambled on about race cars and race teams, something begin to emerge in his conversation. Chuck and I noticed a hurting and a “reaching out” from the man. Then the telling moment happened. He “just happened” to mention that in 2008 he had lost his 16-year-old son Aaron, in a terrible car accident. We asked a couple of questions about the son and he began to talk about what a great kid he was. As he talked about his son our attitude changed because we realized a door for ministry had opened for us to show love and concern to this hurting dad.

We didn’t bombard the guy with religious talk or beat him over the head with preaching. We just showed concern and we simply let him know that God cared about his hurt and pain and that we would remember to pray for him. His name is Gabriel……please pray for him to have peace with God.

As we talked about this later we realized the encounter with Gabriel was not a chance encounter. It was surely the reason we were at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Sunday, September 5, 2011, at that specific time and at that specific location in the Bill Elliot Grandstand during the rain that cancelled the race. If all of that hadn’t happened we wouldn’t have crossed paths with Gabriel and would not have had the privilege of being Jesus to him at a time when he really needed Jesus.

Too many times we don’t consider the small details of our daily lives. Psalm 37:23 says, ” The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Isn’t it cool that even when we’re not thinking about it God is directing our steps! He delights in and is involved in every detail of our lives.

That is Kingdom living! Thank God for directed steps!

Cogitate on that!

Gene Reasoner