Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Big Question

This morning I was digging into the brown-sugared flesh of a grapefruit while peripherally listening to the babblings of evangelist Robert Schuller on TV. The grapefruit was intentional – Robert Schuller, not.
He just happened to be what was on, and I was too lazy to change the channel.
As coffee gurgled its way into the carafe yonder, Schuller was asking his Crystal-Cathedralled congregants What A Sermon Should Be.
I was digging away, and sort of listening.
What Is A Sermon?
“Should it be a philosophical discourse?”
“No”, he answered himself.
“A study in advanced theology?”
Again the answer was no. He mentioned several other rhetorical possiblities.
No, no, no!
“A sermon”, Schuller went on to conclude, “is an emotional therapy session.
Be still my spoon.
I turned to the television.
Finally. Finally!
I never thought I would get the answer FROM a preacher, but I realized that Schuller had just described for me, in a three-word phrase, the reason I have long since quit attending church.
I was all ears. The absurdities were rolling, as he expounded upon what he meant by “emotional therapy session.”
At first, my initial reaction was that I myself do not require a regular and repeated weekly “emotional therapy session.” A few moments later I revised that conclusion though – and I realized that I do, in fact, need this.
I think we all do.
We all need times when we emotionally re-connect with ourselves and others and [yes] even with our concept of the “divine” – it’s just that I no longer entrust that level of need to the church, or to any clergyman.
Schuller was still babbling, but in my mind, I heard Emily Dickinson:

Some keep the Sabbath going to church;
I keep it staying at home,
With a bobolink for a chorister,
And an orchard for a dome.

OK – fair enough – the grapefruit is now inside me, let’s move on – I kept thinking – I asked myself WHY.
WHY is it that a sermon is not a philosophical discourse?
WHY can it not be an honest [to God?] study in advanced theology?
WHY can it not address real and relevant issues?
WHY must a sermon so often rely upon dishonest assumptions, absurd propositions, and the literalizing of myth?
Why should it descend [intellectually] to being [merely] an emotional therapy session? [As Schuller’s sermons, in my opinion, are!]

And I came up with an answer.
No, seriously, I know you think that there can not be an answer, but – not only did I come up with an answer – I came up with THEE answer.
I really did.
But this blog here has perhaps already exhausted the patience of a lot of my readers. This is a page that is supposed to be about BOOKS after all…… not grapefruits and Robert Schuller.
So, please forgive my already Trollopian verbosity.
Let me use these last few seconds of your valuable time, to restate the question more succinctly:
Why is it that we so seldom hear solid philosophical wisdom in sermons?
If you have ever wondered such a thing, and want to know THEE answer, all you have to do is clickHERE.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ok so I read the whole thing, even went to THEE answer and read that, and I have to say I've never looked at it quite that way before but suddenly it's all so much clearer. Wow. How sad though.
You're right though, you do have THEE answer.
I read also that some disagreed but oddly there is no argument. To me that says it all.
If only more people know this truth!