Friday, May 29, 2009

Festival of Homiletics: Anna Carter Florence

One of my favorite preachers/lecturers at the Festival of Homiletics was Anna Carter Florence, who has been at the Festival before, but who I missed last time I attended. She was really excellent, inspiring, and encouraging.

Notes: Preaching in a Recession: Rick Warren, Charlemagne, Survivor-man & you" - I found this session particularly thought-provoking, because I recently have been struggling with the knowledge that one of my colleagues has been 'borrowing' a great deal from other sources in theological reflections. I've struggled to understand this, and her lecture really helped me think about the spiritual implications, and the spiritual consequences we put on ourselves when, as she put it, we cease to "strive." Following are my mostly unedited notes -

Plagiarism – Rick Warren makes his sermons available online. Should we use them? Issues. Emperor Charlemagne’s project was to get everyone preaching the same at the same time, so he could control what was being said.

Most efficient way to educate was to make people go to church every week and hear the “right” sermons. Ordered a common lectionary to be used, with a “Homiliary” of sermons to be used. People had to go to church, pastors had to use the texts and sermons. “Carolingian Renaissance” was notable for its “renewal of preaching,” says history books. Centralized control of pulpit is not renaissance, but its death.

You have to cross the line, to use someone else’s work to really know where your line is, to feel it, using a chunk of someone else’s text.

Challenges that have crept up with internet – not just plagiarism, but trading access for interpretive freedom. Internet can’t mediate wisdom, love. We have to sort through volume to find value.

Preaching another’s sermons is bowing down to emperor, and not to JC. To create well-behaving citizens of the empire. Trying to convince you, the tempter, that you can’t do it yourself. “If you were a real preacher . . . you would have the numbers, not have a leaky roof, people would like you . . . real preachers have growing churches, multiple campuses, etc.” Preaching someone else’s sermons is an act of surrender to the emperor, the tempter, giving up our right/responsibility to interpret scripture. An act of resistance, a fresh act of interpretation. Not because you are so great at it, but because God is great, and grace is real.

Survivor-man. (Les Stroud) Survive in extreme cultures for a week.
This is not the antidote to empire. Does not require us to enter text with nothing. If we are just trying “to stay alive on camera,” then we need a new model. Don’t have to do it alone. Couldn’t talk/preach without going over ideas with one another (live/online.)

Striving. (Waldorf model of education – strive – teachers, and so students.) We can’t stop striving in our preaching, or our congregations will stop striving too.

Eyes of a preacher who has stopped striving, and stopped believing grace is real.

1 Samuel 17: David & Goliath

When you are striving, and someone offers you a suit of armor that does not fit, don’t wear it! Especially if emperor offers it. Go instead with friends to search for smooth stones that fit in your own slingshot! “I am a preacher, and a child of God.”
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