Tag Archives: washington post

Writer and Blogger Chris Stedman’s Bad Giraffe Art

For as much as I enjoy hyping up the website I must say that this post marks a great turning point in the history of Pretty Awful Giraffes; it marks the first time we have ever actually been contacted by someone who should not be drawing a giraffe. So it was with great joy I was able to find this on the Twitter account a few days ago:


@AwfulGiraffes Bahaha! I love your website more than I can say. And you’re from Minnesota?! Too awesome for words. Keep it up!


@AwfulGiraffes P.S. I’d be honored to draw a giraffe! Hilariously enough, when I doodle I mostly draw giraffes. Not that they’re good…

Chris Stedman is the Interfaith and Community Service Fellow for the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University and the Managing Director of State of Formation, a new initiative at the Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue. A fellow Minnesotan and graduate of Augsburg College, Stedman is also the founder and author of the blog NonProphet Status. In addition to this he writes for the Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog and The Huffington Post. Lastly, as if all of this was not accomplishment enough, he works to foster positive and productive dialogue between faith communities and the nonreligious and is currently writing a memoir related to this work for Beacon Press.

Frankly, I could go on and on about all of the great things Chris is doing but it would probably just make you feel bad. In fact, you might reach the conclusion that you’re just a twenty-something on the prairie who spends his time on the internet anonymously harassing Gary Snyder and David Silverman because they are unwilling (read: mature) to draw pictures of African animals; being emotionally attached to this project, every criticism you write will only be punctuated with tears. (Hypothetically speaking, of course).

I’ve digressed.

Convening the editorial review board (we never rubber stamp here) there were major reservations about whether or not Chris fit the general requirements of someone who should not be drawing a giraffe (after all he did explicitly state that he frequently draws giraffe). This great mission statement/identity debate went on for almost all of three minutes before we reached a consensus: it only seemed right to give a fellow Minnesotan a chance. Chris Stedman would be the next name to enter the GDBPWSNBDG canon.

Alerting him of this immense honor and privilege (something I’m sure he will now include on his blog’s biography page *cough*), we inferred a tone in his reaction Tweet reminiscent of a child getting the Nerf Super Soaker Hydro Cannon for Christmas.

@AwfulGiraffes Wow, thanks! It’s a deal! What’s the best way for me to do this? DM me if you want my email.

In addition to this he was even kind enough to attach a little note.

I’m not sure if this is cheating but yes, I drew my giraffe in Paint. And yes, I downloaded Paint specifically for this purpose. I drew it on my laptop with the touchpad, which was much harder than I anticipated. 

In case it isn’t clear: this is an image of a baby giraffe hanging out on my lap, and we’re friends (the heart should be a major hint). Because when you spend as much time working in front of the computer as I do, having imaginary cartoon giraffe friends is what you’re reduced to. But as someone who is working to bridge diverse communities, I’m not going to let differences like “one of us doesn’t actually exist” get in the way of our friendship! 

Finally: your website is awesome. Thanks again for inviting me to contribute.

Chris Stedman and A Pretty Awful Giraffe (May 2, 2011)

I’m not going to make any inappropriate jokes about where the giraffe is coming from. None.

Eboo Patels Pretty Awful Giraffe

Writer and Blogger Eboo Patel Can’t Draw a Giraffe

[The following story comes from fellow Editorial Board Member Lucas Felts.]

Eboo Patel has been a member of Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Relationships since 2009. He is the founder and Executive Director of Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based international non-profit dedicated to the promotion of interfaith cooperation.

Eboo Patel is a truly inspiring man of whom I met one beautiful weekend in Decorah, IA at Luther College for the Nobel Peace Prize Forum.  It was Friday night where Eboo was guiding a discussion from former Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi.  I, with a twinkle in my eye, looked on as I saw two miraculous things unfolding before me.  First I saw a message being delivered with power and conviction from Shirin Ebadi promoting social justice guided by the calm collected presence of Eboo Patel.  But I also saw something else that fateful day upon that stage.  As I sat there furiously scribing away in my metahipster journal I saw giraffes on that stage.  Not living, breathing, 14-foot tall giraffes, don’t be silly how would Luther College get those in an auditorium? No, I saw the potential for some poorly drawn giraffes on that stage.

Eboo Patel is a Rhodes Scholar and one of today’s foremost experts on religion and interfaith relations.  In my humble opinion I would have to conclude that this man has no business whatsoever drawing a giraffe.  So, when the conversation had come to an end I, like any sane and fully competent person on a mission, decided to disregard the barriers preventing me from going on stage (it is a well known fact that if you act like you know what you are doing people perceive you to know what you are doing and thus don’t question you) and I approached Eboo with all the desirous emotions of a childhood boy on the verge of fulfilling his dream.  He looked me in the eyes, the aura of an important man ever looming about him, and said, “What’s up?”  More noble words may have never been spoken because in that instant I was frozen, the only thing standing between me and immortality by virtue of Giraffes was my own fear.

Nonetheless I was able to muster out, “Eboo, I have a strange request for you.  Would you draw me a giraffe?”  With a confused look on his face he grabbed the notebook from my hand and began to sketch.  He then stopped and looked at me half serious half confused and said, “I don’t know if I should be doing this,” as though there was some moral dilemma in drawing a giraffe.  Or maybe his reservations came from the terror stories floating about the internet of how US Congressman Tim Walz’s inability to draw a giraffe resulted in what may be one of the year’s biggest controversies.  Nonetheless once I assured him there was nothing to fear in contributing to the biggest revolution since the civil rights movement he then resumed, commenting briefly on how his son would love that he is doing this(it’s true, your children will love you much more if you draw a giraffe for us).  After some time spent working on his creation, he realized his giraffe looked more like a camel without humps than it did a giraffe.  Not to be discouraged, however, the final product was finished and handed back to me with a signature and the look of a man who had truly accomplished something. He also wrote giraffe at the top so the viewers of this website dedicated to drawings of giraffes would fully understand that this was, in fact, actually what he was trying to draw.

The following night Eboo gave an incredibly moving speech on interfaith relations, recurring through his speech were examples of important historical figures who promoted the idea that we are better together.  I think I can say with full confidence that when the blank page of my journal said we were better apart, Eboo Patel and his giraffe/camel said we are better together.  You can find Eboo on twitter(@EbooPatel) or you can read his blog at the Washington Post.

But there is only one place you can find his poorly drawn giraffe.  And that is right here my friends.

Eboo Patels Pretty Awful Giraffe