Lately, Cultural Items Including The Church Basement Roadshow and The Office

October 10th, 2008 in Cultural Items I've Consumed by admin 13

The Office (season, the latest)

So I’m what you’d call an appointment-viewer of The Office. We watch it every week. And after two episodes of the latest season I have to say that the show has taken on a darker tinge, mood-wise, than it’s had in the past. This has mainly to do with the Dwight character’s newfound success in, for lack of a better term, getting laid. What made the Dwight character funny (and what’s made characters like his funny in the past, see also: Cliff Claven) in part was the idea thathe wasso dorkishly obsessed with things like Battlestar Galactica thathe would never Get Any so to speak. But now that Dwight is a sexual powerhouse, it’s harder to like him in that cute, funny doofus sort of way.

And the new Meredith storyline – exchanging sexual favors for Outback Steakhouse coupons – is also especially dark/sad even though it’s meant to be funny. I just wonder where it’s all going…it makes Sam trying mostly unsuccessfully to sleep with Diane feel almost quaint and old-fashioned by comparison.

The Church Basement Roadshow

This is a new twist on the old book-tour – that is, a tour in which fans, readers, etc. can meet authors, hear interesting anecdotes about their books, and then buy those books. By way of disclaimer, I didn’t see this in person, rather, I ended up watching a whole episode online after receiving a weird email about Tony Jones “not being right” which I didn’t respond to because I figured it was somebody screwing around. Anyway.

The concept was creative – it (the show) included Tony Jones (Emergent Village, a bunch of books), Doug Pagitt (Solomon’s Porch, a bunch of books), and Mark Scandrette (the third guy) acting like they were guys from 1908 for a few minutes, and then talking about their books as themselves for several more minutes. It was heavy on romanticized stories about spiritual formation involving lots of colorfully “regular” characters (tattoo artists, truckers, etc.), in such a way as to say “hey, I have gritty, non-churchy friends” in much the same way as your White Guilt Friend is always talking about his Black Friend.But the stories were interesting – I learned more about Jones, Pagitt, and a guy named Trucker Frank. These guys are good storytellers and seem like good guys, and I mean that in the least-snarky way possible.

It was also, predictably Emergent/ing/ish in that it wasanti-propositional, anti-doctrine,and anti-hierarchical. It was pro-story and anti-mention-of-sin. Somebody used the word “revolutionary” once which if you read this blog you’ll know that I think is more than played. But like I said, the roadshow is a creative and fresh way to move the product, so to speak. It’s a way to market the product in a way that sort of makes people feel like they’re not having the product marketed to them (see also: Rob Bell’s tours), which is I think exactly how one has to market to our generation. Has anybody seen one of these in person?