At Sunday School with Amanda Palmer
It wasn’t a typical Sunday morning.
I was standing in the historic surroundings of London’s Conway Hall, belting out a rendition of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” with a bunch of strangers.
It was an uplifting experience. I was at Conway Hall for the latest of The School Of Life’s “Sunday Sermons”. In the pulpit was Amanda Palmer, who I was first aware of a couple of years ago when I watched her TED Talk on The Art of Asking.
Amanda opened with one of her own songs about her experience of being a new mother, called A Mother’s Confession where she sings “at least, the baby didn’t die”. As a mother who’d escaped my children for the day, I was interested to hear her take, and whether it had stifled — or encouraged — her creativity.
In the Church of Amanda Palmer, it wasn’t God but humanity she spoke of, grounded in reality, relevant to each of everyone of us, whether parents or not. Amanda said that motherhood doesn’t give any time for editing — luckily for us it hasn’t diminished her creativity.
Amanda was funny and warm. She was candid and moving. Between the humour and the tears, she spoke about asking, about trusting. About believing in the goodness of others. Of course, Amanda would never have had 8m people view her TED talk without the internet; but her sermon was a reminder of the importance of offline engagement, of the need to nurture our tribal interconnectedness. To be aware of our human nature. Babies and children remind us of that basic need to be present and connected with others (so I was pleased to see — and hear — a number of babies in the audience).
We ended the morning singing Purple Rain. I’m not a church goer, but with a modern twist on sermons — and hymns — I can see myself spending more Sunday mornings like this.