Friday, February 13, 2009

People Together

I enjoy the Dilbert comic strip, and read it regularly. A few months ago, I stumbled upon animations of the strip. I was disappointed that the characters do not sound like themselves. This, of course, brings up an obvious question: How could I know what they sound like? It seems that my imagination has taken hold.

This week's convention featured an excellent selection of speakers in both general session and workshop formats. Many of them are authors; I've read the books of several. It seemed to me that some of them didn't really sound like themselves. But that doesn't even make sense. Again I find that my imagination has filled in the blanks. Print media presents a message which, though it may reflect some of the author's personality somewhat, is really quite independent of that individual.

General sessions were interesting. The speakers were well-known pastors and/or authors. The thousands of attendees all came together in an enormous room. In that situation, it makes some sense to project real-time onto screens so even those far from the stage could see facial expressions and so forth, but the whole environment -- with special lighting, fog machines, several cameras, and sometimes ten-foot tall projections of speakers' faces -- seemed to create a sense of other-ness. It seemed to remove some of the human element.

It was good to see and hear some of the authors in the more natural environment of workshops, to recognize them as flesh-and-blood human beings with genuine souls and the experiences of everyday life. While not a strongly interactive situation, the smaller group size, absence of special effects, closer proximity, and Q&A opportunities seemed to provide a sort of grounding. We could see each other more as people.

We are created for relationship, to connect as people shaping and being shaped by our interactions with each other. These past several days have been wonderful. But I find myself looking forward even more to returning to the community of people who exist -- and with whom I can exist -- simply as human beings without all the hoopla.

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