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Friday, May 8, 2009

Life Together - what is it?

Fresh Air host Terry Gross talked yesterday with Amy Poehler about her new show Parks & Recreation (the obvious reason of the timing of this interview), but also about her time on Saturday Night Live, especially during this last election (side note: Poehler gives some outstanding backstory on her UNBELIEVABLY hilarious Sarah Palin rap, one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen…)

It was the last few minutes that got me though, where Poehler talks about why she still likes to do stand-up comedy. Pay attention:
Amy Poehler: It (stand-up) always feels exhilarating, in a good way… but you have no control over what is happening at the same time… I still perform because that feeling of being a little dangerous is still exciting for me and I think it’s good as a performer to keep making sure you’re not getting too comfortable …

But it’s also a social thing, kind of the closest thing I have to a communal religious experience where you just meet up with people you love and do something together and there’s someone there witnessing it and hopefully, y’know, you kind of feel different after… um, and I think that my experiences doing improv have certainly provided me, like, a kind of a… spirituality, I guess, in a way… that maybe, y’know, I wouldn’t have otherwise…. (voice wanders off)

Terry Gross: It’s really been a pleasure talking with you…

AP: Yeah, thank you… (You can tell she’s pretty nervous and thrown off by what she just said)… I can’t believe I ended on the word “spirituality” – I can hear the eyes rolling in cars across America (smiling, sarcastic tone).

I’m really thrown by how deep that last part was, Terry. I really want to leave you with something that’s not so deep (nervous laughter), but oh boy… it’s too late. What am I gonna do.
I’m not entirely sure what to make of this, but it is a message for the church all the same.

This isn’t rocket science I know, but she’s revealing some poignant things: that people want to belong. They want to laugh -- hard -- as a way to cope (if you listen to the segment, she says some very touching things about living and performing in NYC after 9/11). They want to be with people they love and feel a real connection through an experience.

Don’t worry. I know front and center that church is about God, not us. Church is worship, not therapy. And I want it that way. But church (Sundays AND during the week) is the best place for us to live life the way it was meant to be lived. Church should be a lovely, gripping, completely engaging and redemptive drama where we each have a role and get to act out our pre-fall life together with Jesus – what theology calls creation intent.

I hear the hunger for that in Amy Poehler’s words. She tastes of it through the communal experience of improv. And oh how I want the church to reach in to her and that world…

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