A Token of God's Grace

THEY DON’T SERVE Powdermilk Biscuits in Collins Alumni Auditorium, on the campus of Nashville’s Lipscomb University. There’s no Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band, and Guy Noir is nowhere to be seen. The ushers handing out programs aren’t members of The Professional Society of English Majors, and if Brother Preacher ever got hold of Garrison Keillor, he might Bible-thump him all the way back to Lake Wobegon.

Still, if A Prairie Home Companion ever moved South and got religion—or at least went to divinity school—it might look a lot like Tokens.

The theological variety show, hosted by Lipscomb professor Lee Camp, bills itself as “Too Serious for Public Radio. Too Edgy for Christian Radio. Too Much Fun to Miss.” It features a house band of A-list Nashville musicians, musical guests such as Vince Gill, and thinkers such as Brian McLaren, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Hubert Locke. There are also the Token Radio Players, whose “Dispatches from the Bible Belt” would give Dusty and Lefty a run for their money.

At a live show in June, for example, the Players introduced their audience to the “Guns and Moses Day-Care Center” in a skit inspired by the Tennessee legislature’s recent decision to allow patrons to carry guns in bars. “What’s next,” Camp asked, “guns in preschool?”

“If you take guns out of the hands of children,” the fictional day care’s head mistress said, “then only criminal children will have guns.”

It’s part of the show’s sideways approach to addressing theology and social issues. If he can get people to laugh, Camp says, they are more willing to listen. “We try to use the humor and music to sneak up on people, and get them to look at substantive issues.”

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Sojourners Magazine September/October 2009
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