Apr 23, 2010

Catalyst West: Tripp and Tyler

I just had the privilege to lead a writing workshop at the Catalyst West Conference in Irvine, California.  I teach a workshop on writing your spiritual memoir. We discuss notable memoirs that work and why; I encourage the participants to write down the stories that shaped their lives. We do an in-class exercise to get story ideas flowing, and they leave with something they can start writing about.

I've led this workshop several times at other conferences. I didn't realize it; but the Catalyst Conference is "kind of a big deal." It's a massive leadership convention aimed at inviting change and innovation in the church. You won't see James Dobson here, unless he's a hipster in a fedora and hair gel. Everything goes to 11. Just go to their websiteThere's so much stuff happening on the website, that they give you the option to turn the background or foreground off,  There's a live feed to what's going on backstage; video clips, audio podcasts, you name it.  It's an ADHD's dream.   This year they had a group of Samoan dancers and a gum wall. It was crazy.

I am cynical and have an overzealous BS detector. I reached a point in my life where I'd seen it all, done it all, experienced every "new thing," (Despite Ecclesiastes claim that there is nothing knew under the sun.") and knew how every New Big Thing turned out. Not always so great.  I may be right to hold onto a bit of cynicism, but I have to remind myself that the story isn't over, God continues to inspire people and get them to move on and do new things.  That's what Catalyst tries to harness: people willing to plunge into new things.  That's who was there.

When I arrived in the main sanctuary yesterday, the band was warming up the crowd with Train's "Hey Soul Sister." During lunch they carried on with Coldplay's "Yellow," some James Brown. And on a tweet dare, they attempted "A Whole New World."  It was totally insane.   Note: While I was typing this, the live feed went on and I witnessed some kind of snowball fight (with tennis balls) while the band played Britney Spears "Hit Me Baby One More Time." The picture at right was from last year. This year the tennis ball fight also involved confetti. I wasn't in the main sanctuary during worship, I was off doing a podcast. So I can't comment on the real worship. But judging by people's reactions, it "went to 11."

Unfortunately, when you're participating, you don't get a lot of time to sit in on sessions, because you're off in a booth doing an interview or a video clip. But I did get to watch a clip about the Compassion guy who got stuck in the elevator during the Haiti Earthquake.  I also listened to Eugene Cho, a pastor of a church in Seattle. He and his wife were visiting in a third world country (I don't know which, again when you're participating you only get to hear snippets) but he found out the average year's wages there was $40. Forty bucks a YEAR.  Cho and his wife donated their entire year's salary and started an organization called One Days Wages, where you can donate one day of your wages to a cause. You can even set up your own donation page, choose a nonprofit, and invite friends to donate one day of their wages to your cause. That was probably my Profundity Hightlight of the time I spent.

There were these two guys who did comedy bits in between sessions. I was dreading that: oh dear, Christian Comedy.  I did Christian comedy in my early days and it was never that comedic.  But these guys were awesome.  g Tripp Crosby and Tyler Stanton do live comedy and produce short films.  They work for Catalyst but also do stuff on their own.  They produced this short film before they'd seen "Devotion" That Tony Hale and I were in.  There's only one similar bit in the two clips.  

They also just posted their Visit With Don Miller

After watching that I think Don needs to beef up his cameo on Blue Like Jazz, when they make the movie.

I was impressed with these guys, and thrilled that somewhere, the church is embracing a different kind of entertainment and humor.  In fact was impressed with the whole event and all the people I met. And I came in feeling wary. I left regretting I couldn't stay longer. Oh sure, all of these great movements that start from these events will experience the same hardship, conflict and disillusionment we all did. But maybe they'll skip some of the mistakes we made. And then a new generation will take it from there.

BTW, I DID see this car in the church parking lot. I don't know who's rocking this particular "Suffering for Jesus" look.  They better come forward and explain.  Maybe the Hertz dealership had run out of Priuses. 

I'm bummed I'm not there today. If you did attend Catalyst I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Heidi Britz said...

We are lucky enough to have Tripp and Tyler at our church. They are hilarious!! And I would have never guessed Don, I mean Donald, Miller would be a Dr. Phil guy. LOL!! Susan, please, pretty please, come teach your writing workshop in Atlanta soon :)

jenna kristine said...

I was at Catalyst West and absolutely LOVED it! It was my first time to attend the conference, and I will definitely be attending again. I actually saw you at one point in a crowd of people outside, but didn't want to interrupt your conversation (especially since we don't really know each other.. haha). I really wish I could have attended your workshop while there!

Anonymous said...

When is your next workshop? I guess I could peruse your blog and find out....

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