What’s Next?


I think it all began with idol makers back in the Old Testament. They made something that was so new and shocking, it got people’s attention and they actually set it up as something worth bowing down to. Over the millennia, it has trickled down in various forms, sometimes manifesting itself through religion, sometimes through music, art, or dance. But, no matter how you look at it, shock value continues to prove its worthlessness as a true, creative currency.

It’s nothing new. People have been getting naked and making offensive statements and paintings and songs for thousands of years. So, what makes people continue to pay attention to all of the stuff we see a la Gaga and Cyrus? Could it be that people get bored with their “normal” lives and need extra stimulation? Maybe it’s because there’s a realization that some things have been done before and the shocking seems novel. No matter what it is, when people become desensitized to the “shock” of today, how insane will the next thing have to be to get consumers of crass to point their antennae toward it?

Around a decade ago when my wife was a student at the University of Georgia at the Lamar Dodd School, we saw a student exhibit that included a drawing of crucified male genitalia. At the time, we both were appalled by the image; offended. As Christians, it made no sense to us why someone would go out of their way to make such an image. But, as time went on, it became clear that other people were going to try to outdo even that image. But, instead of it becoming more and more shocking, the material became less and less artistic and meaningful. Instead of making informed and important statements, the students were obviously only looking for attention. How artistically disappointing. The art became all about the artist. And as any good artist should know, the artist is the LAST thing you should think about when considering the art form.

So, what’s next? Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe we’ll see something akin to live porn acts. Extreme violence could be the next wave with something akin to the Roman Colosseum. But, no matter what it is that seeks to shock us next, it will never be so powerful as the thing that engenders love, peace, and joy in the human soul. I hope we look there first and leave the shock in its proper place; Hinnom…


Practice Makes…


Malcolm Gladwell in his book titled, Outliers makes the assertion, based on research, that the magical number of practice hours it takes to make one an expert in his or her field is 10,000. While I agree with this approximation, I still see areas where natural ability can come into play when referring to talent.

My chorus director in college always said, “Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent.” Many people believe that if they practice long and hard enough, they can be great at anything. But, can a tone deaf person become a virtuoso? Can someone with a flat personality become an actor? These questions aren’t meant to put down or discourage, but rather to increase our perception of what talent is and how we develop it.

Practice is a way to improve a talent you already care about and realize you have. If you have a greater talent for singing, for instance, you are more likely to spend the time and effort it takes to develop that talent. If you have a lesser talent, you might make some improvement, but mostly you will integrate improvements that, with more practice, will continue with you throughout life.

This goes for writing, too. If you have the talent in the first place, you will be interested in the craft and will continue to hone your abilities. No matter what, if you love your art, you will never give up on it, no matter how difficult it may be to succeed. That’s what we do…peace to you.