The Conference Panel's Prayer

June is conference month for the arts, and I’ve seen a LOT of plenary panels on a LOT of pertinent subjects. Common to them all has been a hope at the beginning that the session will go productively, that the temporary aggregation of intelligent people will find something useful to say, and that the moderator will keep time and keep promises.

Conference Panel's Prayer

cc flickr Simon James

Other such collective human endeavors offer a prayer or an invocation as they begin, to summon positive forces and to focus collective attention. At the inspiration of some dear colleagues, and to kill time between plenary sessions, I have drafted such a prayer for conference panels. Please use it if it inspires you.

The Conference Panel’s Prayer
Our panel,
which is in progress,
what the hell is thy point?
We few convened,
each question screened,
both us and them, same as ever.
Give those on this dais our timely insight.
And forgive us our fallacies,
as we forgive those who bring them to our attention.
Lead us not into polemics,
but deliver us from tedium.
For thine is the process of the conference
in the plenary forever.


  1. Jodi says

    This made me and my colleagues laugh heartily. And I laughed even harder when I tried to type your web address and wound up typing “” – a whole new take on the cultural landscape right there.

  2. Paul Botts says

    Hah! Beautiful. And dead on the money.

    Advance warning, prepare yourself to be quoted and/or shamelessly plagiarized. (Depending on how the panel is going and whether you’re likely to want your name associated with it….)

  3. Jerry Yoshitomi says

    The Most Reverend Andrew Taylor:
    Very impressive! Anytime that you’re available to save my soul, let me know and I’ll come running.

    One line that you could left in that is appropriate for our field to repeat daily would be: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”