Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Darwiniana: In Praise of the Amateur

My friends, it's not that we've forgotten that we have a blog. It's that the stage is a high and consummate calling, devouring time and talent. This past week has been devoted to theater-related doings, yea, even the Fourth of July and the usually sacrosanct Friday night. And this week is not only tech week (which for you uninitiates is the week the show opens, in which the technical glitches get ironed out because it's our first and only week in the actual theater) but it's also Vacation Bible School in the parish. In the morning I put on a VBS shirt and spend multiple twenty-minute shifts talking to squirmy children about saints and Bible stories and memory verses, and in the evening I put on a skirt and jazz shoes and sometimes a fake beard and play a variety of chorus roles. As we incorporate our orchestra, here's a snippet of our rehearsal here. (Even those who aren't acolytes of Zuckerburg can get around the wall by clicking "Not Now".)

Our VBS isn't run by professional theologians biding their time until they can break into the exciting world of celebrity catechesis. Our community theater isn't manned by aspiring thespians looking for their shot at the big time. We're the talent, and the kinda-talent, that stayed home. We're the big fish in the small pond (or even the middling fish), but we're also the fish who showed up and were faithful. And we are the people who run the world.

Not everyone gets famous, and those who get famous aren't the most talented or the best at what they do. The famous one are the ones who put the time and effort into self-promotion and networking and getting a good agent or manager. Our show has some people who would shine anywhere. Most of the rest of us, though, are good enough for Delaware, OH. And that's okay. The people of a mid-sized town in central Ohio deserve theater as much as the tourists of New York or London do. The children in the parish north of Columbus deserve VBS volunteers who will work in person instead of devoting their time to video catechesis series. There are a lot of gifts in the world, and they don't all need to be concentrated in centers of culture and education.

Today at VBS I talked about the Holy Family, and I told the kids that what made them holy is not that they were strange or unusual or did things differently from everyone else. What made them holy was the love of God shining through all the normal things they did. Holiness doesn't consist of heroics, but in loving God whatever you're doing, and allowing him to work through you.

Not everyone is called to make sacrifices for their Art, and most people are never going to make it big, no matter how talented. That's how it should be. You don't love God better simply because you have a big audience. The size of your stage doesn't dictate the size of your gift. And thank goodness. The New York pros have lots of access to master classes and auditions and development opportunities, but not many of them get to watch their seventh child smash his birthday cake.

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