Monday, March 03, 2008

Preaching as Local Theology and Folk Art

Book Review

Preaching as Local Theology and Folk Art was a book written by Leonora Tubbs Tisdale. The book was written by her in 1997 as she was preaching at four different congregations of the former Episcopal-Presbyterian Shared Ministry in central Virginia.

I have to be honest; this was not a book that I was thoroughly looking forward to reading. I purchased the book because it was on the discount rack (.99 cents) and it had a unique title. I am not preaching full-time, so I was also not sure how the relevance of the book would play out into my story.

With that being said, I enjoyed the book. At times, it was tough to plow on through, but overall it was a very good book and she did a great job of sharing stories and interweaving her church experiences into the writings. I think that the one thing that proved insightful was when she shared about her preaching the same sermon at the different churches and how it went well in some and flopped in others. This was the context of the book: the cultural context of where you are at in your life.

I know that I can look at my life and see the different places that we have done ministry. We have done ministry in different denominations, different states, rural, city, suburbs, downtown, inner-city and different economical classes. Each place is different and where they are at; needs to be taken into consideration.

One of the interesting aspects of the book was when she took a look at “interpreting congregational worldviews and values. At times, this could seem heavy but they are issues that we need to be aware of us as we live, preach and teach to those in our sphere of influence.

Local Theology

One of her emphasis was on “local theology”. She had just entered us into a dialogue over selecting text for our churches and the pluses and negatives of using the “common lectionary” and here was some of her thoughts as she is wrapping her arms around it and then about to spin it in another direction:

When preaching is view as local theology, we are reminded of the values that may have been lost pr devalued in the move from a preacher-designed lectionary to an ecumenically designed lectionary is a serious consideration of the local congregation itself in the process of text selection. Lectionary preaching, as valuable as it is, needs to be tempered by congregational concerns in the text selection process. (pg. 101)

Now to the “folk art” …..

1. Preaching as ‘folk art’ exhibits a preference for the simple, plain, conversational speech of the local congregation.
2. Preaching as ‘folk art’ uses examples and illustrations that are reflective of life as members of the congregation actually experience it.
3. Preaching as ‘folk art’ searches for local images and metaphors capable of bringing the biblical world and the world of the congregation together in transformational ways.

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