A.I. and the Ministry of Deconfirmation

americanidolAmerican Idol has returned and all is weird with the world. I’m hooked. I admit it. Enough drama to fuel a fleet of Kia’s.

“I just want someone to tell me that I’m great,” says a weeping contestant. Fine, then work your way from badness to goodness to greatness. Greatness is not bestowed by a three- four-judge panel; it is earned by years of hard work in obscurity. Or sold by the Governor of Illinois to the highest bidder. Or thrust upon you by the vote-counters of Minnesota.

I am always surprised by the talentless auditioners who display genuine befuddlement when the judges reject them.  In my humble opinion, their friends and family should crawl to them in contrition for half a lifetime of duplicity.

simon-cowellWe’ve been told for decades that the younger generation lacks confidence. Not the young people who audition for AI. They brim with confidence. Misplaced confidence. Too much confidence.

Have we raised a generation of young people who really believe they’re good at everything?  Have we deluded these poor Gen-whatever’s into thinking the world really is their oyster?  It’s not. It’s your sieve, and you’re a lump who’s just been sifted. Welcome to the real world.

Whatever happened to speaking the truth in love?

Friends don’t let tone-deaf friends do American Idol.

By the time I reached high school, I knew I’d never be a rock star. Or a football player, talk show host, financier, engineer, builder, or dancer. See how many options I crossed off my list? Whew! Ka-ching on the college savings. I was good with that then; I still am.

Maybe we need to manifest the ministry of deconfirmation. Maybe our kids are baffled about their careers because no one has helped them rule options out. Deconfirm them: “No, honey, you won’t succeed as a singer; stick with math.” “No, little Jim-Bob. Rudy notwithstanding, you’re too small for football. But you’re great at biology–remember how fast you cut apart that frog?” See how loving that sounds? By the time they’re burning wheelbarrows of dollars at college, they should have crossed a few dozen options off the list.

wingedladyThe sky is not the limit, the bottom branch of the apple tree is. Quite a relief.

Spurgeon’s pastor’s college refused to admit preachers who couldn’t preach. They had to audition. I guess that made Spurgeon preaching’s Simon Cowell. I can only hope to follow in his footsteps.

Is everyone an apostle? Of course not. Is everyone a prophet? No. Are all teachers? Does everyone have the power to do miracles? Does everyone have the gift of healing? Of course not. Does God give all of us the ability to speak in unknown languages? Can everyone interpret unknown languages? No! (1 Corinthians 12:29, 30, NLT).

Can everyone sing?

My mom says I can be anything if I only believe. I hear belly dancing pays well. I’ll start tomorrow. Need entertainment for your next party?

[P.S., Dear Church Veteran, please look up satire, hyperbole, and irony in the dictionary before you take offense.]

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13 thoughts on “A.I. and the Ministry of Deconfirmation

  1. But don’t you take pleasure in the awfulness of some of them? That’s the reason I watch. As soon as they’re down to the good ones, I’m out of there.

  2. I have to imagine that the bizarre (read: narcissistic) over-confidence of these people has very much to do w/ their crushing self doubt, coupled with self-obsession. People in substance recovery groups will sometimes use the phrase “I’m not much, but I’m all I think about.” The other version of that is, though less family friendly, is quite telling; “I’m the piece of **** at the center of the universe.”

    I have to think that the sort of absurd self-aggrandizement of these folks is motivated by a deep-seeded anxiety that they are not worth much of anything.

    Funny how humans respond in ambivalent and contradictory ways to our deepest feelings, eh?

    Dr. Drew Pinsky has a book coming out soon that addresses the effect of celebrity narcissism on the general public. Might be a good read if this dynamic is interesting to anyone.

  3. What an excellent post. You’re right on every count. ” . . . work your way from badness to goodness to greatness . . . by years of hard work in obscurity.” And the Scripture passage was perfect. There’s much wisdom here.

  4. I dunno. I’m torn on this issue. What about the overcomers who were right? Who ignored the “you-can’t-do-it” statements of their parents, friends and peers?

    David…you can’t slay that Giant!
    Joshua and Caleb…we can’t take the land!
    Jesus…what do you mean with all this talk about dying?

    Look, let’s not pump our kids’ heads full of crazy talk. But let’s not deflate them either. Bill, you’re right when you say we should help our kids cross some options off their lists.

    But it appears to me that what’s most important, is to teach them to have more faith in the God of the universe, than they do in their own strength, talents and abilities.

  5. Bob G — good comments.

    Did you know that Charles Spurgeon suffered from depression…? (Google it.) That kind of handicap could have easily succumbed Spurgeon to his own misgivings (or criticisms from others) concerning his own capabilities or spiritual gifts–or lack thereof.

    If you knew that you could not fail in anything, what would you do…? Think about it. My own personal life philosophy has been to try (and to fail), rather than never having tried at all (from fear of embarrassing yourself as presumptive in the eyes of others).

    If there is an epithath on my gravestone, it will NOT say, “He should have, He would have, He could have.” If you have a talent or gift, then let it shine.

    Matt 5:16 — “In the same way, let your light shine before men…”

    Grace…
    Joe

  6. It is delightfully awful to hear terrible singers sing, and to watch Simon give them a reality check. This is my guilty pleasure.

  7. I know this sounds judgmental, although I’m not offended by anything written. I just don’t understand how intelligent people can watch American Idol. I don’t intend to come off as superior. I can’t when I consider the variety of ways I waste time. But I’ve seen AI enough to make some evaluation. None of the talent shows any originality. They all sing “like somebody else.” Last year’s contestants all had careers, so AI wasn’t giving anybody a break. They spend weeks putting people up to public ridicule. Sure, they were willing, but so are porn stars. The judges don’t say anything objective about the “talent,” so there isn’t even an opportunity to learn about what makes someone talented.
    Educate me. I still won’t watch the show; I think Frazier reruns are on at the same time.

  8. MattA
    I understand your dislike for American Idol. It’s shared by millions, so you’re in good company. I enjoy it as mindless diversion. The human drama grabs me. The comedic value grabs me. Like a good sitcom, the characters are knowable and predicatable. Simon will be Simon, Paula will hate him and love him. Randy will be jovial. And now Kara will do whatever she will do. The human interest stories abound. And yes, on rare occasions, the music grabs me, and when that happens it’s magical.
    Bill

  9. Bob…
    There’s a measure of hyperbole here. I’ve set my sights, mainly, on those kids who glibly think AI “owes” them a break, when they haven’t worked their butts off to earn their break.
    Bill

  10. Bill, yeah, sorry I missed the joke. My bad. Of course you’re right. Many of the AI wannabees needed a reality check somewhere along the way. Some loving deconfirmation from Mom and Dad. (Not to mention the fact that you’re priming the pump for an Inner Mess sequel, to address the results. Brilliant!)

    🙂

    Bob

  11. At least the worst the rejects get is a cruel comment from Simon. They should put Michael Corleone on the panel. Paula can be Fredo. That would be worth watching.

    Paula/Fredo: I am smart. I got opinions.

    Michael: How do you like fishing?

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