Lessons the Church can Learn From Conan O’Brien

Like many my age, I made sure to stay awake to see the final episode of The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien.  It was sad to see him end his long run on NBC.  And the week leading to the final episode had me prepared for an all out NBC bashing and basically a freedom for Conan to let loose and say what ever he wanted.   He did.  He closed his show with this epic statement.

Please, do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it’s my least favorite quality. 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. I’m telling you, amazing things will happen. I’m telling you, it’s just true.

I have to admit the cowbell during free bird, I saw that coming.  I mean who didn’t?  But that speech caught me completely off guard.  It was eloquent (but with 2 degrees from Harvard that’s expected) and poignant basically stating that he is grateful for the opportunities he has been given and though it hasn’t ended the way he envisioned, he is blessed to have had the time.  Wow!

What if the church took his speech about cynicism to heart?  What would that do to the community of believers that is so easily divided?  What if like so much of Conan’s television and life, the church didn’t take themselves so seriously?  What if we learned to laugh?

Look I can be the biggest cynic when it comes to the church, worship music, Christian life, and more.  It is very easy to find yourself in that position when you spend so much time around a church.  I practically cut my teeth on church pews and now I find myself working in a church.  I read cynical and snarky blogs that point out what is wrong with the church today.  And I admit that a lot of it is dead on in my opinion.  I just think we can learn to be a better community rather than creating a debate we create a conversation.

In my own denomination it is very easy to be cynical of the past history and where it leads us today.  The Nazarene church has a very legalistic history.  My generation doesn’t readily accept legalistic views and honestly tends to overreact to them.  But it is hard to see it for what it was.  The legalism of the Nazarene history started with good intentions.  A broken humanity is what saw it become the monster it was.  While dancing itself may not be evil, it is easy to see how it may lead to something against scripture.  So rather than take a chance it was seen as better to be as far away from the line as possible as to not cross it.  Started with the intentions to protect led to a history of staunch rules and regulations that at times hindered one’s Christian walk.

Looking at it in that light makes current denominational stances understandable.  Remember we are only human.  We all are guilty of thinking we have the “right” answer for any given situation and of imposing that way of thinking on others – big things or small.  If we can step outside ourselves and let God move through us, revolutionary things will happen.

Cynicism gets us no where.  Conversation sparks movement.
Sometimes rose colored glasses allow growth that cynical lenses prevent.