Sunday, August 18, 2013

Stand up overthinking

So, I like comedy. All kinds. TV sitcoms. Action comedy movies. Satire/News. Even the occasional romantic comedy (don't judge). And, of course-- Stand-up comedy. Stand-up comedy is an interesting creature that has been around for awhile but seems to have come into its own in the last 15 years. These days, you can't be a serious comedy junkie unless you've watched some stand-up comedy on YouTube or Netflix.

But as part-time working grad students are prone to do during summers, I've been over-thinking this development in American pop culture. And in my reflections, I think I've come to the conclusion that stand up comedians are the new morality teachers.

No, seriously.

There was a time in American history when people crowded be tens of thousands from hundreds of miles to hear a preacher-- from John Wesley all the way to Billy Graham. And that still happens in some places today.

Then you had it with politicians and activists. JFK? MLK? But that didn't last too long (although political marches are still very much in vogue).

After that it was rock stars and pop musicians. And the concerts will still fill out, but it's not quite the same as it used to be.

Now it's the stand-up comedian. They preach more about what's wrong and right with the culture than anyone else with the cultural ear. Most of the folks listening to preachers will be repulsed by language or content or something like that. Most people who pay attention to politicians and activists are disgusted by the satire and inability to "take issues seriously." And the Deadheads and Beliebers will go on being Deadheads and Beliebers (what else is new?). But it's the comedian's day.

What that means for me, or for ministers, or sociologists or anyone else, I don't know. I haven't quite got around to overthinking it that much.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wet Summer, Dry Summer, Red Summer, Blue Summer

I have had a heck of a summer that has gone violently from boring to busy, week to week. I've enjoyed a class on the history and theology of the diaconate. I've moved twice (and have been settled in my house for a month now--love it!). I've had weeks with heavy workloads and weeks with hardly 2 hours of labor. Emotions have been everywhere, and I know that's life. The semester has quickly approached with its two conferences I have to present at. There are two campus ministries (one at Geneva and one at PSU Beaver) that I have to launch. My mentored ministry assignment in Ambridge sounds like it will have its own share of surprises. There are still things to do before the semester begins but I am ready for it to be done. Yup, ready for it to be May and for my life to move on.