martinlutherkingjr.jpg barackobama.jpg I’m hoping that as we enter August, I won’t find everyone away and not in a talking mood… because I’ve got a couple things that I hope warrant some discussion this week… and I’m looking for feedback. Start thinking about communion and we’ll bring that one up tomorrow. For now, let’s tackle something else. First, I like Jim Collins’ book, except one thing… the horribly-named BHAG. If MLK had gotten up and proclaimed, “I have a BHAG…!” I rather suspect he wouldn’t have made near the impact. MLK was an orator, a beast we see less and less often these days. Oh, maybe it is because a distributor of snappy one-liners makes for a better sound-byte, but it could also be that there just aren’t as many true orators around.

Yeah, so, you recognize the two men pictured above, of course. Good. Well, it seems that Barack Obama is lately being referred to by some as an orator in the league of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., and the best we’ve seen since them. I’m not quite ready to render a verdict, but the question bears discussion while an unasked question hovers in the smoky air above our heads and we silently wonder if the American public can stand to see a gifted orator practice his craft in presenting ideas bathed in truly subversive or innovative undertones, or if some other extreme may want to seek to silence the voice.

Wednesday evening next week (August 13th) is “Theology by the Glass” sponsored by St. Benedict’s Table (Theology Pub in a restaurant instead of a pub; Buccacino’s at 8:00PM if you’re in Winnipeg). The text up for discussion is that of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, noting the recent comparisons made with Obama. For the record, such comparisons or allusions and analysis on the impact of his oration can easily be found online.

The upcoming topic takes my mind back to my visit to The King Center in Atlanta in early June, and to a three-year-old question on the relevance of preaching. The resonance with Obama’s oration seems to suggest that we aren’t beyond a good oral presentation… something I was beginning to fear. On the other hand, perhaps we are well beyond a mediocre one. Doesn’t bode well for the form of sermon we all know and love uh, we all know. Meantime, I think I’ll read through the transcript of the MLK speech in question… I’ve heard and seen it, but never read it.

So, for the discussion-minded, have at it. Riff on any of the themes from the aforementioned speech, or on the Obama-King comparison, or the future of the sermon.

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