On mediocrity and undeserved praise

I was greatly heartened today to see an opinion piece in last Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald that spoke of a topic which has also been very irksome to me. In my case, it is the tendency for people in church to “over-express” themselves in heaping on praise after any kind of performance, whether good, bad or in between. As the article describes it “… we have become infected with the US disease that sees audiences on their feet no matter how mediocre the work or inadequately it is presented.”

Say that to somebody at church, and you will inevitably be met with a response that includes words such as “generosity”, “encouragement” etc. Sure, by all means be gracious in your acceptance of their otherwise dire performance, but why reward it?? How is it anything but mental and/or emotional manipulation? Personally, if I knew or felt that my own performance was crap, then a standing ovation will just make me feel contempt for the audience, because I will think that they know it too, and are ovating me (that sounds rude, doesn’t it?) out of charity, or worse. But that’s me. I’m sure there are some people out there who are encouraged by that sort of thing.

The other aspect of it is the cheapening of extravagance. This too, is covered more eloquently in the article, about how every marvellous thing has been taken and reduced down to a mere token gesture by the frequency and mindless ease with which it is being used.

So, in future if you’re up on stage giving the performance of your life, and at the end of it I’m still sitting down, don’t worry. It means that I have respectfully considered your act and found it not quite deserving of my highest praise. And if you do get a standing ovation from me then you know you’ve truly performed exceptionally. What are these other turkeys going to do? Start jumping up and down in their seats? Sheesh.