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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unpacking Kierkegaard's Indirect Communication, December 9, 2004
This review is from: Overhearing the Gospel: Revised and Expanded Edition (Paperback)
For a time this book slipped under the radar. I couldn't find it in the late 90's, but it's finally being rediscovered. I think this is because it expresses so well the method of communication that has made Hollywood one of the most compelling story tellers on the planet, far overshadowing the impotence of the Church in telling the greatest story ever told, and yet one used almost exclusively by Jesus himself.

Inadvertently a postmodern text, Overhearing the Gospel exposes the modern illusion of direct communication-the idea that each one of us perceives the world and communicates ideas exactly the same.

Through the stories of Søren Kierkegaard, Fred Craddock shows us how to draw listeners into the very act of constructing their own meaning (always analogically). Through art and story listeners hear more with their heart (holistic perception) and understand more deeply when in their own uniqueness they are allowed to complete the meaning. He exposes what Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein have been shouting for years: people are moved more by what is compelling than reasonable. As Kierkegaard mused, 'I don't have a problem with reason, as long as you understand it only works backwards.'

In respect of how we communicate, the Church needs to catch up with--heaven forbid even learn from--Hollywood. It needs to explain less, trust the heart of the listener and learn again how to tell its story in a more meaningful and compelling manner. As Queen Victoria was purported to have said, "If all the people who go to sleep in church were laid end to end they would be a lot more comfortable."

Overhearing the Gospel does not deal with the ethics of communication, though it calls the Church to the next level of love and respect for the Other. Neither does it open the door to the underlying philosophical and theological discussions, which in fact lie beneath his more practical lessons. Craddock doesn't even suggest `direct communication' and reason be done away with, he thinks they are indeed necessary. What he offers us, however, is a start at understanding how indirect communication through the use of art, story, analogy and metaphor can be far more meaningful than explanations, especially when communicating the grace and truth of God in Christ-that which no person can directly communicate to another.

Greg Gorsuch, Common Ground Seattle
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Location: Seattle

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