By some unforseen stroke of providence, I was asked to visit and blog about Imaginative Reading for Creative Preaching (one of the Seminars in Christian Scholarship) for the Institute. The following post will also appear on their blog:
Today was the first day of the seminar on Imaginative Reading for Creative Preaching, hosted by Neil Plantinga Jr with Hulitt Gloer and Scott Hoezee. As a stealth blogger for CICW, I sat in on their opening hour.
“Welcome,” Professor Plantinga opened the session saying, “to three weeks of bliss.”
I sensed the anticipation among the participants, who introduced themselves and expressed their hopes for the seminar. Many participants are excited about an opportunity to unite two loves: reading and preaching. They are hoping to improve their preaching, to broaden their reading, and, as one participant put it, to receive “an infusion of prophetic imagination.”
As I perused the reading list, my own anticipation grew. I saw a few unfamiliar names surrounded by some of my favorites: Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott, Otherwise by Jane Kenyon, a number of young-adult books including Gary Schmidt’s Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, Silence by Shusako Endo, and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, among others.
The central question of this seminar, Professor Plantinga explained, is “what is the preacher getting from this literature?” He hoped these works would “tune our ears” to exceptional use of language. They would also be looking for “statable insights into the human condition.” It seems that they will be looking for ways to bring the richness from literature more often into sermons; to add to the artfulness, accessibility, and concreteness of sermons by infusing them with literature.
There is much to anticipate in this seminar – with a great reading list, and thoughtful participants, I can’t wait to see what more I can overhear of what is sure to be exciting and thought-provoking discussion. Perhaps “three weeks of bliss” is only mild hyperbole, with such an enriching task ahead.