Saturday, 19 November 2011
By Andy at Faith and Geekery
Two things have been on my mind recently: Seinfeld and Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I highly recommend the series to all geeks, even though I’m only on book two of fourteen. One concept Jordan puts forth is that of “ta’veren”. A person who is “ta’veren” is a person who the pattern of the world and even the will of God itself seem to weave around. Each person who interacts with one who is “ta’veren” is changed forever.
Now there have probably been people on earth who fit this description, but other than Jesus, people could make arguments for or against lots of people. I’m personally more interested in events that are “ta’veren”. Events that change the course of one’s life. We probably all notice big events such as the birth or death of a loved one, marriage, or moving to a new place, but I love looking at tiny events that at the time seemed largely insignificant that have since grown to be life-altering.
Such a “ta’veren” event occurred for me five years ago and Seinfeld was at the center of it, but I didn’t have a name for it until I started reading the Wheel of Time series.
I didn’t grow up watching Seinfeld, but I remember watching the final episode when I was in high school, knowing it was of some historic significance. I didn’t realize then the impact that Seinfeld would have on the rest of my life.
When I arrived at college, I became friends with a Seinfeld fanatic. This was before the DVDs had come out, and through his friendship I watched no fewer than four episodes a day in syndication for a few months.
I grew to love the show. I bought all of the seasons on DVD as soon as they were released and I watched every minute. After college, as I was working in campus ministry at a university while my friend remained a student, I had an idea that forever changed my life and my ministry. It was a “ta’veren” idea.
At the university, we had morning chapel five days a week and my idea was to bring Seinfeld to chapel. I had spoken in chapel a few times before I had this idea, but I had never been so nervous in my entire life as the time leading up to Seinfeld Chapel. I told a few people about it and the word spread like wildfire throughout the campus.
At the time, we didn’t have a projector or screen in the chapel, so I recruited three friends to help me in acting out the scene I had chosen, which involved the following clip.
While people loved the idea, what people couldn’t get over was that my friend Matt, who agreed to play George, volunteered to cut his hair into a horseshoe pattern and dye it. I can’t say he looked very much like George, but the laughs took forever to calm down once he walked onto the stage. Matt also voluntarily took two large bites of onion on stage, tapping into his inner Costanza.
To connect the message to Jesus, I contrasted George’s inconsistency with God’s never-changing constancy. We also sang the song Nothin’ in honor of Seinfeld – the show about nothing (though I don’t think very many people understood that was the entire reason we chose that song).
I was very nervous throughout the entire twenty minutes of chapel. It wasn’t until the president of the university shook my hand and said, “Well done,” that I realized it had truly gone well and I wouldn’t be labeled a heretic.
It was just one small idea that led to that chapel, which led to a few dozen others in the same vein. This led to a Bible study utilizing concepts from Firefly, which led to me beginning to write a book about that Bible study, which led me to write for Faith & Geekery.
And it doesn’t stop there. That one idea will continue to inform and influence my ideas on ministry, culture, and life. “Ta’veren” indeed.
What “ta’veren” moments have you had in your life? Are you watching for God to work through the small moments that might otherwise seem insignificant?