Sunday, October 31, 2010

Preaching Versus Lecturing

For those who do either or both or listen to either or both, this review of Arthur Hunt's The Art of Hearing: English Preachers and their Audiences, 1590-1640, contains more than a few fun remarks.

Here's one of our faves:

So we underestimate how powerful these occasions could be - and how contentious. He has a powerful argument that it was almost a logical impossibility to preach a sermon that no one found offensive. Some people certainly snoozed through sermons (then and now); others sat and nursed hair-trigger sensitivities to any real or imagined slights.

1 comment:

JB in CA said...

Hunt even suggests (and I'm not sure I buy this) that some doubted whether the deaf could be saved. After all, St Paul said that faith comes by hearing.

This quotation from the review of Hunt's book is priceless. Talk about exegesis run amok. It reminds me of a story Alexander Campbell told about a preacher that didn't like it when women wore their hair in a bun on the top of their heads. To stop that evil practice once and for all, the preacher decided to give a sermon on Mt. 24:17: "Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house ...". After dropping a few words from the verse, replacing "house" with the letter "k", and strategically inserting the word "must", he proceeded to drone on for an hour or so about why the "top knot must come down".

As I recall, Campbell didn't say anything about how the congregation responded, but I'm guessing there weren't many baptisms that day.