- Paperback: 145 pages
- Publisher: CSS Publishing Company (January 1, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1556735731
- ISBN-13: 978-1556735738
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.3 x 5.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Thinking In Story: Preaching in a Post-Literate Age
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This is a book for preachers. Jensen makes it clear that "preaching is shaped by the communications culture of its time." (22) The entire history of Christianity, up to now, has been influenced by a literate society. Since the invention of the printing press, it has been heavily influenced by the world of print. Preaching in a world of print tends to be more linear. It is a medium for communicating ideas.
In the age of electronic media we find ourselves living in an age where the skills of the oral-aural age must be revisited. Though we are very much formed by our literate background, we are now preaching to people who spend eighty percent of their non working/sleeping time watching television. Children growing up in this electronic age seem capable of watching television, listening to music and studying, all at the same time. It is an age of multi-tasking.
The electronic media deals with images that do not have to be understood. It is a sensory media. It washes over the viewer, massaging several senses at the same time. It brings back into play many of the characteristics of the oral-aural culture. It is more suited for story telling than for purely didactic purposes. It is non-linear. Stories we see on television often jump from one situation to another, allowing the viewer to participate in several sub-stories at the same time.
Jensen encourages stories from the bible itself, and also from the preacher's own life experiences. This may come as a shock to those schooled in the Buttrick system of preaching. For Jenson, "my story" leads to "our story" which eventually brings us to "God's story." His list of sources for stories, for the most part, is one of the weaker areas of the book. Jensen's challenge to preachers is very clear and well stated. His examples of story-preaching are not as well stated. For this reader, this apparent weak point is forgivable considering the value and strength of the challenge that he does state so well. He ends his book with some important caveats-what can go wrong. Good preaching does not take the place of good theology. Good stories should not be an end in themselves. Good preachers do not rely solely on their own biblical interpretation, apart from what is handed on through the Church.
Richard Jensen has performed a great service for preachers. He has read the writing on the wall, and demonstrated that it is really an electronic image! If the Church is to continue to reach new generations, then it should not be slow in recognizing that it is entering, with all of humanity, a new age of communication. Our old communication skills need to be re-thought. Thank you, Richard Jensen, for such a positive challenge!