Saturday, May 27, 2006


First, at the risk of seeming a little obsessed about the piece of FICTION known as the Da Vinci Code, I wanted to highlight something that RealLivePreacher said the other day:

The second thing I’d like to mention is more important for the Church to consider. Christianity is a major, world-wide religion. It is 2000 years old and is the largest common expression of spirituality in the history of humanity. Does the Christian Church really need to worry about a book and a movie? These things are here today and gone tomorrow, almost literally. The Christian Church has withstood the Roman Empire, medieval Christianity, and the Age of Enlightenment. Somehow the Church even manages to survive its most dangerous challenge - scandal, decadence, and corruption within its ranks. Will Dan Brown now topple us?

I understand a carefully worded response to scholarly inaccuracies, but I don't understand the anger, the outrage, and the hoopla. Anything more than a gentle, factual correction is as silly as if George Bush were to show up at Patooka Elementary School with the secret service because a 4th grader said something mean about him. It's as silly as if Ron Howard and Tom Hanks were to show up at my door, screaming at me for lifting a Da Vinci Code graphic from their website. Why would they bother? What threat am I to them?

The best and only appropriate response for the Church is to be about the business of the Church. Don't we have, I don't know, CHURCH things to be doing? Or even better, human things to be doing? If our love of humanity was as radical as Jesus called it to be, then we would never have to say a word.

Cue 'Threefold Amen.' I figured I'd offer an opinion with which I agreed on the subject that didn't use words like 'nutballism.' So thanks, RLP.

Katherine participated in the GalPals meme the other day, and offered quite a preface:

...Anyway, the RevGalBlogPals Friday Five meme is in regard to belief. I realize that through the years, I've depended on the mostly-helpful notion that Christianity isn't about belief as confidently assenting to the truth of a set of doctrines, but cultivating faith in God as a way of life. The difference between faith and belief (when it is articulated with more clarity than I'm managing here) has been of vital importance to me. When I was about nineteen, I decided that whether or not I believed in the five things I thought I was supposed to make myself believe in to be a bonified Christian, I would try to trust God and participate in communities of faith anyway. For the most part, this has worked out for me, though sometimes the utter ambiguity of my faith exhausts me. The notion of orthopraxis - right practice - as opposed to orthodoxy - right belief - deeply appeals to me. Give me communion over catechesis any day. Which is not to say that I don't love theology; I simply see it more of a practice of imagining the God in whom we have faith rather than laying down a set of orthodox doctrines.

I'm appreciating more and more the concept of orthopraxis. I preach it pretty regularly, perhaps ad nauseum. But Jesus did, too. There. That's my shut-down argument to counter THAT.

And finally,
iMonk is writing about preaching again:

I’ve never had any big ego problems about criticising my own preaching. The next day I went to my tapes, and put on my last few sermons. I was shouting. I’d always been shouting, but now I was hearing it differently.

Those of you who didn’t grow up in the Southern Baptist Bible belt may have no idea what I am talking about here, but in my experiences of Baptist fundamentalism, shouting was fundamental to real preaching. Preachers didn’t talk in conversational tones. Preachers shouted. They yelled. They…”preached” by raising their voices to a shout and keeping it there most of the time. Their voices were in a higher gear, at a higher volume, and came from a higher plane.

Artificial? Absolutely. Biblical? Not that I can tell. Useful? In many places, probably, particularly with older people. Impressive? Yes, if you actually have something to say and say it well. Necessary? Yes. In our church a non-shouting preacher would have been unthinkable. Understood by the general public? Well……probably not. It was “preaching,” and that was about all you could say.

A few weeks ago I was listening to a colleague's sermon podcast, and was quickly struck by how he was shouting. The whole time he kept his voice at this strange level where first you could tell he was reading his manuscript, and reading it at a strange tone and volume that I could barely withstand for fourteen minutes. The message was really good, but the delivery was irritating because he saw the need to shout the entire time. Maybe there comes a moment where you reach a climax of the message or want to drive something home, but to keep it at that level the entire time showcases the worst of the phenomenon that is worshipspeak.