Jason Clark is asking questions about preaching not exactly the same as I was bringing up in my prior post, but about the future of preaching. Some good discussion going on over there.
I recall an audio series by John Piper on preaching which was quite inspirational and helpful to preachers, as I recall at the time. Rather much moreso than the homiletics course I took in college.
For me, I recall preaching a “sermon” back in 1998 the first “multimedia” sermon we had ever done in our church. Rather than a “traditional” message on that Palm Sunday, I simply outlined the events of holy week and the crucifixion, using a lot of visuals on screen as I spoke, basically just telling the story and not trying to draw many conclusions, points, or applications based upon it. The whole thing seemed to come off rather powerfully for some people, and was quite engaging, holding people’s focus for about 50 minutes, much longer than a normal sermon would run. A friend later told me he thought it was one of the best sermons I had done… and I suspected then that we were entering a new era in preaching.
Did you ever see the movie, “Max”? Art vs. Kitch. The masses respond to kitch really well. Kitch is easily accessible. But what advertizing and marketing experts know that most do ont, is that under the top layers of that kitch (Thomas Kinkade for instance) is a highly idealized yet deep archetype that we need. Art makes us work for our meal, but kitch hands it to us in brightly wrapped packages with bows and trims. Either way, the archetype is primal. In more ways than one.
That sermon that you “preached” sounds like it was art. And nowadays, more people are learning how to take in art. We are learning how to appropriate what it has to offer and need the candy coating less and less. What the old-timers seem to miss is that art is not entertainment like kitch is. When they see a pretty thing, they accuse us of trying to entertain. But what they are doing is really telling us that they do not know how to appropriate what the art has to offer. They feel suspicious of pretty things because they know that kitch has the ability to sell an idea – just like the marketting guys know. But they don’t see the difference yet.
When I see/view/hear or witness Art in some way, I begin the process of paying attention to what is going on inside of me and when the Art is nothing but the naked story of Jesus, then I am exposed to Jesus in one of the most powerful ways possible. A person who is used to having their tid-bits handed to them, will not look inward and will not have the experience of feeling exposed to God Himself. They will just see pretty pictures.
The ancient traditions which have an iconography are used to dealing with all this, but we are not. I don’t know how much attention has been given to teaching people how to appropriate what Art has to offer them, esp when it comes to the Gospel. I highly recomment Sister Wendy on this stuff as a resource. She rocks.
But for those who refuse to let go of the suspicion and grab onto the next vine of blessing, they can keep their plain cardboard boxes of propositional truth and spend days and weeks on words tht reveal maybe half of what a naked encounter with Jesus through Art would.
As for me, I’m getting worn out over at Jason’s place and need a break. This discussion has not brought out the best in my Brothers in the Lord.