Ted’s Talk

“Is this guy funny?” asked one of our Rainbow neighbors as she pointed to this sign on our church door. Before I had a chance to respond, she answered her own question: “Most church people aren’t very funny, you know.”

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I didn’t know how to respond, especially since one of the topics Ted will grapple with this weekend is suicide, namely the death by suicide of his acting and creative partner for close to 20 years, Lee Eshleman.

This is hardly something to laugh about. And yet knowing Ted, I anticipate that we will laugh together this weekend, cry, cringe, and maybe (hopefully) grapple with new and old questions.

I remember watching Ted of Ted and Lee when I was a little girl growing up in Hillsboro, KS. They were the goofiest and most irreverent Mennonites I knew. They flailed across sanctuaries, stages, and biblical stories in a risky and silly manner, and I loved it. They gave audiences and little girls like me permission to see and appreciate the absurd in life, in faith, in community, and yes, even in the Bible.

I therefore look forward to Ted’s talk, both on Saturday night and during Sunday morning worship.

I also look forward to giving Ted a hard time about the mark he left in my home town of Hillsboro in 1995. And when I say mark, I mean an eight-foot-long crack in a wall that Ted is responsible for as a result of his stage shenanigans.  It’s been patched since then, but the crack is still there. Thanks to my mom, I have pictures to prove it.


Such is life. The cracks, the losses, the grief that make up our lives, are still here. And fortunately artists like Ted are here to help us grapple with it all—the absurd and the beautiful.

Click the following link for more information about Saturday’s performance:Laughter-Human-Faces-Tour-PR

And here is a link to a recent article about Ted published in The Mennonite: https://themennonite.org/seven-questions-ted-swartz/

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