Moment of Zen

Jon Stewart announced last night that he will be leaving The Daily Show some time this year.  This news, from the man from whom I’ve gotten my news for at least 15 years, made me so sad, I ran to YouTube and began watching clips of Stewart’s Top 10 Best Moments on The Daily Show.  I only got through two because the one from 9-11 made me cry.  Again.

Jon Stewart, my favorite male comedian, a Jew who makes fun of himself, the right, and the left, is like that.  He makes me think.  He makes me laugh.  He makes me cry.  And he’s leaving.

Aw, Jon.

I went to The Daily Show site and began reading the comments of loyal fans from around the globe as they processed Stewart’s announcement.  Possibly my favorite was from a woman who wrote, “Can we at least talk about this?  Is it something I’ve done?  I can change…”

Thousands “Liked” that comment.

When I was in seminary, my esteemed Homiletics Professor, The Rev. Dr. Hank Langknecht, on our last day of class, presented us with a list of recommendations we should consider doing on an ongoing basis to keep our preaching fresh.  The list included:

  1. Read Fiction (which I did …then didn’t…then did again) … and
  2. Figure out a system for organizing your sermons so you can keep track of the stories you’ve used  (which I really should do) and
  3. Watch The Daily Show.  Which I did, and do.  It did everything Hank said it would do and more.

It helped me hold in balance this cry that seems to rise up all too often from people everywhere in the United States.  The cry screams:  “Panic! About THIS! Because THIS is so horrific that NOTHING else is important or worthy of praise.”

And given the news stories of late, it’s easy to understand why so many, myself included at times, have been seduced by that cry.  And yet, it is a seduction from which I’ve always managed to break free, in part, because Stewart is funny.  He keeps it light.  He has perfected irony.  His facial expressions alone are a language which has inspired my study of rhetoric.

The Daily Show, Hank told us, would enable us to get a bunch of things done at once:

  1. We would know what’s going on with big current news events.
  2. We would think about the news after the show ended and ponder relevant connections between the news and the Good News
  3. We would be entertained…we would laugh and equally important, receiving the news would not suck the life out of us.

And he was right.  On every count.

When my son Adam turned 18, he was already a fan of Stewart.  I wanted to take him to see The Daily Show for his birthday, but you had to be 21 to be admitted.  So we went to Hyde Park for steaks instead.

When he turned 21, we went to see Robin Williams Live — a decision I’ve not once regretted.

Now, I’m wondering if I might be able to get tickets for Adam’s 26th birthday in March — before Jon leaves the show.

Because saying goodbye to my favorite anchorman is going to be one of those things that marks a new age of my life … and the life of my children.

There are moments in life when you know you are experiencing something for the last time.  Sometimes, those moments make you cry.  Sometimes, they make you get to your feet and applaud.   And sometimes you just can’t help but do both.

As I’m sure we will for the last Daily Show hosted by Jon Stewart, whose coverage of the news changed the way we receive it.  And whose artistry weaving together the serious and the insane, has made me a better preacher.

Who knew, I could be so inspired, by a Jew?  Apparently, the man who taught me to preach.—jon-s-announcement


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