04 September 2013

Thanks/On Method (Updated)

NB. A few days ago a deacon posted his response to my question below. I accidentally deleted the comment.  Please, comment again, Rev. Deacon!

Thanks to the Kind Soul who sent me The Art of Preaching by the great Cistercian, Alan of Lille.

And thanks to Gregory P. for Preaching and Homiletical Theory and The Web of Preaching.

Two more to add to my Book Benefactor Prayer List!

Most of the preaching books I've been reading deal with various methods of homily composition, exploring questions about biblical hermeneutics/interpretation and the person of the preacher as a prophetic voice.

I'm not yet entirely convinced that it is necessary for a preacher to adopt a particular method. When I try to think through my own method of composition, I get stuck trying to "fit" what I actually do when I write into one of the available categories. 

With time, I'll likely figure out that what I do is exactly what Method X says ought to be done. Right now though, it just seems like I do whatever the Spirit moves me to do; or, frankly: what gets preached is the content of me and the Spirit fussing and fighting over what needs to be said!

Question/Request for Preachers: do you consciously use a method when composing a homily?  If so, please describe your method. . .

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  1. We were taught, as Deacons, several methods in our homiletics classes. One was a 6 block system that incorporated a rigid structure of life images, scripture statements and so on. Using that system produced a very predictable flow of words and themes that I found a little restrictive. Those that had no speaking experience at all, found this system helpful and still use it today.
    The second method was a 3 step approach of establishing the theme or message of the Gospel, bringing in a historical context of the Gospel and then expounding upon how this affects us today. This method was good and allowed some flexibility for the homilist.
    Since I already had some speaking experience and was used to a Q&A format, I embarked on a more interactive style of preaching. My preparation involves reflective reading of the Gospels a week before the Sunday I am to preach. As Deacons, we don't get to preach every day or every week, so we have lots of time to prepare. So, during the week, I let the Words move around in my head to ask me what the author is saying, what is the Spirit trying to move people to do? Once that call for action is established, I will usually jot down an outline of sorts and then research to fill my brain with contextual facts and promptings from saints and religious authors to support that central theme.
    Then, sometimes, as a lot of preachers may testify, the Holy Spirit comes in and takes all those well-laid plans and says, "I have a better idea!" Aaargh..... Be prepared for this, it happens when you least expect it.
    So, when I get ready to preach on that Sunday, I take no notes with me and have all that I need in my head and heart. I do inject a little humor now and then, but for the most part I try to engage the congregation and help them to actually enter into the Gospel and assist them in reacting to the Word's proclaimed. I will either end with a challenge or question for further reflection.
    So, I am thinking my method and yours are not too dissimilar. I hope this helps!

    1. Deacon, thanks for this! And my apologies for accidentally deleting your first attempt at posting a comment.

    2. Hmm, I had not replied prior to this one. I hope it wasn't another Deacon?

  2. A recommendation about your focus on nihilism, which lies at the bottom of postmodernism, both intellectual and in popular culture. This book, its first edition now available in pdf for free on this site: http://www.stephenhicks.org/publications/explaining-postmodernism/

    Hicks is a Randian Objectivist, but his work on the roots of PoMo and its real meanings, relativism and collectivism, are excellent. In short, says he, Kantian epistemology made postmodernism possible, the failure of socialism made postmodernism necessary.

    1. I will check it out! BTW, I am not 100% opposed to all forms of PoMo'ism. Insofar, as PoMo'ism critiques modernism, I'm happy with it. IOW, insofar as it nails Descartes/Hume/Kant to the wall and watches them squirm. . .I'm delighted. Unfortunately, you're correct: PoMo'ism is inevitably nihilistic. It can't really be otherwise.

      But you gotta love its pre-modern feel!