Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thoughtful, Funny and Surprisingly Christian



I was just watching Conan O'Brien's recent Dartmouth commencement address to graduates and "old people who come to these things."  Besides being completely hilarious, Conan opened with the self-deprecating humor he is known for, observing that while a decorated war hero and former president sit on stage, a cable TV host is giving the commencement address.  Based on this, he observed, "I pray that I never witness a more damning example of what is wrong with America today."

Something surprising starts to happen about two thirds of the way into the message.  Conan goes from self-deprecation and shameless pandering of insider collegiate references (if I was giving a commencement address, I don't think I could shy away from these either), to a completely different speech.  He turns on a dime.

Conan shares very candidly about his dream of hosting "The Tonight Show" and watching that dream crumble around him.  That moment of failure brought clarity and forced him to innovate and strike out into the comedic "wild wild west".  His failure to live up to the ideal ultimately led him to cast the vision for his redemption and his future. It led him to strike out into new territory, living in freedom from his failure.

With these concepts, Conan crossed into grace territory. Parallel to his words, it is not our ability to please God or to live up to His standard that makes us right before Him.  When we embrace the free grace of God and accept our failure and inability to achieve God's standard, we are given a chance to live freely and be redeemed.  This profound embracing of failure is not defeat, but it sets the tone for sin's ultimate defeat.  Death destroyed by death.

I'd encourage you to watch Conan's speech and ponder. What stands out to you from Conan's commencement address?