Where have I been?

  1. On Saturday I watched The Road to Guantánamo, a gripping docudrama which I will show this Saturday for the movie group I host twice a month at our church. I highly recommend it for everyone.
  2. On Sunday, I preached my second sermon at The Well on the “paradox of the Kingdom.” As soon as we get it posted online, I will let people know.
  3. On Tuesday evening, I preached in my homiletics class. I feel really good about that sermon, even though I made the academic mistake of creating a literary event rather than an oral-aural event. I guess it goes to show that deep down inside, I’m still an English major. I think I might post that sermon here for people to read.
  4. On Tuesday night, I watched as our nation voted its best in a decade. As one of the CNN commentators mentioned, “What a difference a day makes!” Indeed. I also watched the Stewart-Colbert Midterm Midtacular, which was a superb way to close out election night. More to come on the election in the future.
  5. On Wednesday, I finished editing the articles for the upcoming issue of the Princeton Theological Review, which will come out in December, on “Theology and Global Conflict: Beyond ‘Just War.’” We have articles by Daniel Bell, Gordon Brubacher, Mary-Jane Rubenstein, and an interview with George Hunsinger. Yours truly has a small book-note. If you are at an academic institution, we would appreciate it if you asked your library to subscribe. It is only $25 for institutions; $12 for students. Details are on the web site.
  6. Finally, I simply have to print the final monologue by Stephen Colbert on the live Midtacular episode. At the end, it was clear that the Democrats had won a major victory, so of course, Colbert had to unlease his tirade against the clearly terrorist-loving American public. Here is his speech at the end, perhaps the best thing he’s ever written:
“You’re the ones who made this bed. Now you’re going to have to move over so a gay couple can sleep in it. Tomorrow you are going to wake up in a brave new world. A world where the Constitution gets trampled by an army of terrorist clones created in a stem-cell research lab run by homosexual doctors that sterilize their instruments over burning American flags, where tax and spend Democrats take all of your hard-earned money and use it to buy electric cars for National Public Radio and teach evolution to illegal immigrants. Oh, yeah, and everybody’s HIGH!”


Anonymous said…
Moving from the literary to the aural is one of the most difficult things about being an intellectual, manuscript based preacher. I have struggled with this, as most people in my denomination (PCUSA) do - in this we have a lot to learn from our baptist and pentecostal brethren.

Colbert's speech was indeed fantastic.
Anonymous said…
Hi David.

So you too were an English major. My, my!

But from my own experience - pace the Miner - I would say don't worry about being "manuscript based". My early sermons also read like essays; indeed my very first sermon read like a mini-summa! But you soon get used to what I would call oral writing - that is, you type as you're going to preach, so that you don't move from writing to speaking, you move from speaking to writing.
By the way, I have been preaching for twenty-five years, and never have I gone into the pulpit without a complete manuscript, even though by the time I climb the steps it's pretty in-brained. But I would rather go into the pulpit undressed than un-manuscripted.

One other humble word of advice, which was passed on to me by a seasoned preacher just as I was starting out: Never, ever throw away a sermon, particularly the early ones and especially the lousy ones: the church will keep you poor, those sermons will keep you humble.

Oh, and if you'd like to see the sermon I am preaching this Sunday (Remembrance Sunday), it's over at Connexions.

One other by the way. You often hear (at least in the UK) that the two Sundays preachers most fear are Remembrance Sunday and Trinity Sunday. Not me. I relish them. Because they show what you - and the church - are made of.

With every good wish,
timcoe said…
That Colbert quote reminds me of when Jon Stewart promised to spend 'December 25th with all my friends at Osama's Homo Abortion Pot and Commie Jizzporium.'
Great stuff, David. Thanks to the link to Stewart/Colbert. I had missed that episode and it was great, including the Dan Rather part.

I wish I had been an English major. I was a philosophy and political science double major--and it shows in my writing, I'm afraid.

Thanks for the advice. In comparing my sermons from church to the one for class, I think the artificiality of a homiletics class led me to view the writing of the sermon like any other written work. My sermons for church read like how I speak, and I can only assume that having a real church community as my intended audience made a significant subconscious difference.

Glad to find another English major-turned-theologian!
Anonymous said…

Homilitics class. Ah yes, I remember it well. At Oxford (Mansfield College) we called it Sermon Class. In it I have seen grown men reduced to jelly and grown women to tears. Il faut durer.
Anonymous said…
I, of course, never meant to imply that there was anything wrong with being a manuscript preacher. I use a manuscript most of the time and in anycase I would never go into the pulpit without at least preparing a manuscript, the preparation for preaching being so critical... however, there are certain disadvantages to preaching from a manuscript that it is worthwhile to be aware of. The process of writing and the process of speaking are different. You can learn to make them more harmonious, but they're not always mutually supportive.

Having the manuscript in the pulpit with you, I find, can create several difficulties all of which can be overcome, but nevertheless... it tends to encourage preachers to look down at the page instead of up at the congregation. It makes it less likely that you will be open to changing the sermon midstride based on the circumstances, which means there is the danger of preaching something that is less than relevant to the congregation. Where you are when you write the sermon may not be the same as when you preach it. The presence of the manuscript can become a crutch. Preachers tend not to rely on themselves, their memory or the Holy Spirit to provide the necessary elements for the preaching event, instead they rely on their manuscript.

Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a manuscript preacher. It is a particular style and each style has its strengths and weaknesses. The strength of manuscript preaching is in the preparation, but possibly a hindrance in the delivery. Great sermons can definitely be manuscript sermons, but I think it is at least worth being conscious of the limitations of our stylistic choices.
My wife preaches more than I do (even though she's currently between pastorates working to house homeless folk) and she has the peculiar habit of preparing a full manuscript and then leaving it with me when she enters the pulpit. Sometimes I follow along and the preached version is never the same as the written--same scripture, topic, and most of the illustrations, but she freely adapts in mid-sermon.

In this she was influenced by our times (twice for a year apiece) as the only white folk on staff in Black Baptist congregations. Nothing frees up someone to the sermon as an oral/aural & COMMUNAL EVENT than learning to preach in African-American contexts.
Anonymous said…

The only appropriate response to your observation is: AMEN.

I have been a manuscript preacher, generally, but am presently in an African American congregation as an intern....