Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dt at Calvin and Biola + Improv Everywhere + Conan


Tomorrow I fly up to Grand Rapids. I'll be attending my first Calvin Institute of Christian Worship symposium. I'm quite excited to be going. From a glimpse at the program it looks to be a very stimulating and, I imagine, encouraging time. If you're in the area, stop by and say hello. I'll be there from the 27th through the 31st. My workshop, on both Friday and Saturday, is titled "In Search of the Successful Artist: Pastors & Artists on a Common Quest."

The same goes for folks in the LA area on March 10. I'll be speaking in chapel at Biola University. They asked me to speak on beauty. My talk will happen around the same time as their arts symposium, so it should be a pretty heady week there. Chapel starts at 9:30 and I believe takes place in their Chase Gymnasium. I'll be speaking with the art students the night before, which will be great fun.

And speaking of fun, I gotta say, I love these guys, Improv Everywhere. I think they're completely courageous, insane, free, fun, inventive, subversive, sneaky and without a trace of cynicism. And speaking of cynicism--did you catch Conan O'Brian's last words? I was completely astounded. My admiration for the man shot up to a 10 out of ten. Here's a choice bit (full text of program here):

"To all the people watching, I can never thank you enough for your kindness to me and I'll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask of you is one thing: please don't be cynical. I hate cynicism -- it's my least favorite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere.

Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen."


So refreshing to hear on primetime television.

But back to our improv group. Their fearless director went to UNC down the road, and he looks as sweet as a well-mannered southern boy. I didn't think of it first, of course, but I'd join one of their "carnivale" jests in a heartbeat. Here's one of my favorite:

2 comments:

The Aesthetic Elevator said...

I've long been an un-fan of cynicism, but can't kick it when it comes to politics. Any tips?

Someone did point out to me, however, a number of years ago that it appears as though Jesus used sarcasm as recorded by Scripture. Don't remember the passage and somewhat depends on how you define the words though. Denotatively they're synonyms. Connotatively, not so much.

w. david o. taylor said...

Paul, I'm not sure what to tell you about cynicism and politics. My hunch is that it's been around for a while, likely three thousand years, at least. I also suspect that if we think about politics from a *theological* perspective, that is, from a perspective of eschatological hope as well as from the ever-available grace of God, both for ourselves and for others, that we may be able to escape the toxicity inherent in cynicism.

I'm not sure, also, that it's very helpful to describe Jesus as sarcastic. A basic dictionary definition identifies the intention to inflict harm on another person as one of the chief qualities of sarcastic speech. Jesus was severe. He knew how to carve a sharp word. And he certainly wasn't afraid to express anger. But he wasn't sarcastic, at least not in the usual sense of the term.

Unfortunately, cynicism and sarcasm are an all-too common feature of modern American life, and I don't think we Christians are any less vulnerable than our non-Christian neighbors to either. But we do have access to a grace that can rescue us from the destructive effects of both. It's not easy to choose to receive that grace, but it is continuously offered to us.

I don't know if that helps at all. I'm not even sure you were asking for all this. My hope with the reference to Conan was to remind us that good news sometimes comes from the most unexpected sources, again, at least, unexpected to some of us.