Monday, February 27, 2006

The good, the bad, and the tacky

I found this via Fr. Jude Sicilliano's Preachers Exchange:

Perhaps as preachers we should expose ourselves to the television shows, the entertainment, and the talk radio our parishioners are listening to—not to the exclusion of the materials that feed our faith and our preaching already, but as small, metered doses of reality of the lives of those who sit in our pews. Rather than reveling in the preaching event as our weekly chance to conduct a one-way conversation in which we tell the listeners about the books we have loved, or the great films we have admired, or the creative art that has brought us closer to the great Creator, what if we asked the same questions of them? What if, in the visits into people’s homes, we carefully noted the shows that were playing on the television, or the songs on the radio, and followed up respectfully, listening, in order to understand why they listen? For we follow a Savior who did not teach using the tools of disdain, but joined the people and taught them of the beauty of God in both the beauty and in the ugliness of life.

—Lillian Daniel, Preach What you Know: the Good, the Bad, and the Tacky (JOURNAL FOR PREACHERS, Pentecost 2005, p. 52)
I think that this is both a good and a dangerous piece of advice. It's good because it highlights a key challenge in ministering in a postmodern and postchristian culture: how do you find a common language, a shared basis for communication and ministry? It's easy to get caught between your own background, the Gospel, and current culture. But as the title of the piece implies, it has to be popular culture that you know, that is relevant to you own faith experience. My own time in youth ministry taught me that kids of various kinds and ages can accept a genuine mossy oldster, but can quickly spot the false hipster, no matter how facile with language or pop culture.

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