To study thought as it affects religion . . . A Gathering of Unitarian Universalist Ministers
Dear Prairie Group,
Greetings from your Program Committee! We are very much looking forward to this year’s Prairie Group on Comedy and Ministry. Attached you will find the “reading” list; although it is more of a viewing list of comedy episodes and specials. This year’s meeting will provide many opportunities to learn from each other and laugh together.
Reviewing the list, you may notice that there are four papers this year instead of the usual five. Rather than presenting a paper on Monday evening, this year we will be lead into a different kind of space by our Chaplain Rev. Kathleen Rolenz. Kathleen’s worship service will provide a way to be together as colleagues that welcomes new people and reconnects those of us who have been around for some time. This innovative approach to Prairie Group is an experiment. Format changes are not common in Prairie Group, and like all experiments the Program Committee is looking to collect data. We will be listening carefully and providing formal ways of collecting your thoughts and feelings about the format change for future years. We are so grateful to Kathleen for her courage and vision in trying this new idea for the first time.
We are looking forward to being with you all this November. May your reading and watching of this reading list bring you pleasure, insight, and laughter. See you at Pere Marquette!
The Program Committee
Paper Topics –PAPER #1: “The Task of the Prophet”
Paper - Nic Cable; Respondent - Luke Stevens - Royer
Walter Bruggemann writes, “The task of prophetic ministry is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us.” How does the comedian/trickster/court jester use imagination, shock, humor, truth telling to engender a questioning of the current order of things, recognizing our grief, and evoking an alternative consciousness? How does comedy and prophesy intersect?
The comedian, the joker often surprises us by taking us to places and traumas that are unspeakable. We are tricked into recognition, grieving, tenderness, and strength, laughing and crying all the way. Explore the relationship between healing and humor. Can humor take us deeper into the healing journey?
Comparing Hannah Gatsby (Nannette), Chris Gethard
People do want to hear those very personal stories
While an important role of the comedian is to speak truth to power, is it possible to go too far with comedy? If so who decides where “the line” is? Some have asserted it is vulgarity, racist or sexist jokes, or critique of political power during war. This paper will explore what we mean by “crossing the line” in comedy, who determines where that line is, and in what ways comedians themselves are held accountable.
o Louis CK - Joe Rogan reaction
o Anthony Jeselnik
o Michael Richards apology
o White House Correspondents Dinners: Michelle Wolf & Stephen Colbert
o Margaret Cho/Jerry Seinfeld Netflix, Comedian and Cars getting coffee
Like comedians, ministers stand in front of crowds of people to elicit an emotional response. For comedians that response is laughter; for ministers it is a wider range of emotions – inspiration, sympathy, or joy. Henri Nouwen says that ministers have to be both prophetic and pastoral. Comedians of various kinds have also taken on these roles at times. This paper will explore where the roles ministers take on are informed by comedy and comedians.
Chris Gethard - Career Suicide
Zen Radicals, Rebels and Reformers by Pearl Besserman
H. Nouwen – Wounded Healer
Ron Chernow WH Correspondence Dinner “The role of the comedian”
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