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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Standing Ovations

This post probably drives a nail into the topic of whether I am becoming an old man or not, but here goes:

It seems to me that we are much more freely giving out standing ovations today than when I was a kid. Maybe this is all just an issue of your perception as a child, and how things stay the same, but because your perception changes, you think things have changed. Yet, I can't deny that as a child I had this impression that standing ovations were reserved for only the most excellent presentations. Now, it seems anything less than a "standing o" means you must have some sort of grievance to file.

Earlier this summer, I noticed it at youth conference. Now it's one thing to support and encourage one another. And don't get me wrong, I don't think it's a sin issue to give a standing ovation. But instead, here's where it's tricky. At the end a session, a song, a worship service or even conference itself, the entire group stands and applauds. Again, I have no problem with this, except...

Then someone mentions that the praise and glory should go to God. They encourage us to thank and applaud God for His abundant grace. Problem is, I'm already standing (What can I do with my posture to show a greater gratitude for God?). I'm already clapping (Not really aware of a way to make my applause louder than the clapping I'm doing.). I'm already yelling (If anything, after yelling for a period of time, my voice is horse and weaker than when I began.). Then I feel somewhat awkward because I have already expended my best for that which truly didn't deserve it (compared to God!).

So do you sit? Well, then you look like a jerk. People assume I either don't like the person, have nitpicked something about their activity, or was deeply offended. I fear that the person may look out into the audience and see that I'm not standing, and have their feelings hurt. I worry that the people around me who truly enjoyed the event will have it ruined when they see me just sitting there.

I'm a messed up human being. Even the way I applaud isn't praise worthy. Praise be to the One who is truly praise worthy!


  • At 11:32 AM, Blogger Jeremy Bear said…

    Holy cow, do I ever hate the standing o.

    I read an interview once with Conan O'Brien and he was lamenting its overuse:

    "There are crowds that think you want a standing ovation or something, because they see that on other shows, and they think that's what you're supposed to do. The ladies of The View get a standing ovation every day on their show, and I think, 'How much have we devalued the standing ovation? That's just ridiculous.' Johnny Carson got one standing ovation, the last night he did his show, and it was really cool. It was like, 'Wow, he did 30 years and then ended it on a classy note, and he got a standing ovation.' And then you realize that Maury Povich is getting a standing ovation every day on his show. I don't like that. I don't like that stuff. Sometimes I think audiences are too... They've picked up bad habits from watching these things on shows. I like people to just be honest, and if I'm funny, laugh. If you're not so sure, don't laugh."

    And every time, doggone it, every time I swear I'm not going to be sucked into standing up, I start to feel lousy for being the only one sitting and give in. I have a theory that in any standing o, there are maybe 10% of the people that are genuinely into it. Everyone else just feels obligated.

    Yeah, little Esmerelda sang the song, she hit all the notes and she's only 8 years old. Yahoo. I'm supposed to stand up for this? Frankly, sweetie, a lot of people could have done that song and I'd go so far as to say a lot of 8-year-olds could have done it too. Unfortunately, your parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents all came to see you perform and if I refuse to stand, they'll think I'm out to destroy your self-esteem, so I guess I have to do it.

    Whatever happened to only standing when something is incredibly difficult or inspiring or unique? Did you know that that's how Presidential speeches are judged these days? By the number of standing ovations? Ridiculous! It's why we have so many meaningless, sound-byte-laden, buzzword-infested speeches. Who cares about content... get that standing o!


    (If Esmerelda did her song while juggling flaming vodka bottles and stradling the backs of two great white sharks... that I'll stand up for! Shock and titillate me!)

  • At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Talk about loaded for bear.... sheesh, did somebody hit a nerve?

    Not only is the caribou becoming an old man but he's becoming a crotchety old man.

    Let Esmerelda have her moment. It's not likely she'll be on American Idol any time soon. Besides, I saw that whole flaming vodka bottle/white shark thing on Extreme TV just last night. yawn.

  • At 8:57 PM, Blogger danny2 said…


    after 102 days, i finally found something we agree about. i think that deserves a standing ovation!



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