Tuesday, May 22, 2007

It's four days after my birthday. I should post pictures and tell funny stories about my friends and i and how late we stayed up and how much i slept the next day to recover.

I'm in Nashville at the festival of homeletics. I should post about how hilarious and yet prophetic walter brueggemann is, how beautiful and insightful barbara brown taylor is, how this songwriter lady talked way too much tonight, and how i love being in nashville with lynnette and sam.

but i watched last week's episode of grey's anatomy tonight (lynnette and sam go to bed pretty early) and now I'm just sad.

TV is what the Theatre was 80 years ago. It is an escape mechanism. During the depression, people went to the theatre to escape their lives, to watch Little Orphan Annie and Oliver Warbucks fall in love, to laugh at reality and have hope for tommorow.

As Brueggemann said today, denial is a major part of our culture (as it in ancient Israel) and denial must be addressed with truth telling.

Since people rarely go to the theatre anymore and certainly not every night, television has became our vaudeville, our comedy, our means of escape. We use TV to deny reality. Reality that we'd rather watch TV than talk to our spouse. We'd rather watch TV than help our kids with their homework. We'd rather watch TV to detox from our day when we could do so many other beautiful things. (Not that sitting on the couch with a beer watching Seinfeld reruns isn't beautiful - it is). But often, we'd even rather escape into other people's lives so ours don't seem so dull, sad or lonely. We need community and sometimes we find that in TV: as we gather with friends to watch favored shows and as we begin to suspend our disbelief and participate in the lives of the characters.

And so the characters on TV become our friends. Our imaginary friends that we can actually see and laugh at and cry with because their characters have become a part of our everyday living or at least our every week living.

When Billy died on Ally McBeal my senior year in college, I cried long and hard. A TV show changed the tone of my whole week. When I watched too many episodes of Arrested Development in one day, Ron Howard began narrating my dreams at night. And now that "It's all over," on Grey's, I mourn the fact that I too needed Christina to go down that aisle. I too need Meredith to commit. I need that because, as all fine art does (in some fashion or another, be it Shakespear or Scrubs), art mirrors life. And if Meredith Grey can be loved fully, so can I. And on the flip side, if George can flunk his intern exam, so can I fail in life. So can we all. We all succeed and we all fail and ultimatley, we all seek to be loved. As Anna Carter Florence said today in her lecture, "all people (us included) really want is to be seen."

That is my new resolution for ministry, to help people be seen; feel seen, not only by me or the church, but by God. Anna said tonight that when a girl climbs into the backseat of a car with her boyfriend - she wants to be seen, when a child throws his third tantrum of the day - he wants to be seen, when a nation makes the decision to go to war - it wants to be seen. Etc., etc., etc.

And so to all the Merediths, Christinas, Georges, Izzy's, Evas, Chiefs, Addisons, McDreamys and even McSteamys (as much as I despise your type of people) in the world, I pledge to try and see you. As a minister of the gospel of "truth-telling and hope-giving" (Brueggemann), I will try to see you and tell you you are seen by God.

Try to see me too.


gavin richardson said...

crafty to mix the greys and the festival..

Unknown said...

You are seen, Ann... And loved by people in your present, your future AND your past...

~Dana (Youngs) McEachen

lynnette said...

hey--i'm old. i can't help it. and i have this little thing called a job which requires me to show up at 8:00 in the morning, sit in a cubicle, and do work. it really gets in the way of my life, but what can i say.


Anonymous said...

YOU, of all people, are comparing TELEVISION to LIVE THEATER!!! Oh, I hope your dad doesn't read this!!! What an abomination!! What a heresy!!! What a TRAVESTY!!! YOu need to fly from Nashville to NY and renew yourself!!!

Ann said...

it's not the same, rp, it's true, but it functions the same way. people used to go to the theatre to escape the depression for i don't know, like 5 cents or something. now we just turn on the tube for escapist entertainment.