Editor’s note: Read Robert Parham’s editorial, A Church of Christ Show Pushes Comedy, Cultural Critique in All the Right Ways, from June 2012.
“It’s like Mark Twain meets God – and likes the God he meets.”
That’s how a friend of Lee Camp’s described Camp’s “theological variety show,” Tokens, which takes place several times a year in Nashville, Tenn.
Camp, who received a master’s and doctorate from Notre Dame, says it used to be common for students to approach him after a lecture on, say, war and peace, wanting to talk about a Woody Guthrie or Bob Dylan song, for example.
“I started wondering,” says Camp, “How could we do some sort of cross-fertilization of really good music and really good theology in a way that wouldn’t be cheesy and that wouldn’t ruin both of them?”
The Alabama native says he thought about a way to do that for years. Eventually, he hit upon what he calls a “hospitable variety format.”
Each show is theologically oriented, with music, comedy, interviews, satire. It’s Garrison Keillor meets Bill Moyers, says Camp, trying to characterize something that really defies categorization. Or it’s Thomas Merton at the Grand Ole Opry.
“It’s a wonderful packaging of things that are brought together on the same stage that most people would never package together,” adds Camp.
Guests on the show, which began in 2008, have included Will Campbell, Shane Claiborne, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Hal Holbrook, Amy-Jill Levine, Barbara Brown Taylor, Miroslav Volf and dozens of others.
Tokens also started releasing podcasts, “Dispatches from the Buckle,” last September. The podcasts package excerpts from the live shows along with other material, like interviews.
Says Camp of the show, “It’s a beautiful picture of what a life of faith looks like when we’re not compartmentalizing it.”
Watch the interview with Camp at vimeo.com/ethicsdaily/skype-leecamp
Learn more about Lee Camp at LeeCCamp.com
Learn more about Tokens at TokensShow.com
Watch other EthicsDaily.com Skype interviews at vimeo.com/ethicsdaily