It’s been a banner few months for preaching, something that’s not much discussed by daily newspapers but regularly performed for and imposed on worshipers.
What a teaching moment for homiletics professors it has been. The word is academic for preaching and close to “homily,” which is a Scripture-based sermon of generally shorter length.
This is as opposed to stem-winders for which Fr. Michael Pfleger of Chicago’s St. Sabina — now on leave — has become more famous than ever, not to mention his big brother in the ministry, Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Chicago’s Trinity United. These are neither short nor Scripture-based, except in sound-bite snippets tossed off in entertaining fashion.
But that’s a fine point. The essence of Pfleger’s and Wright’s better known preaching has been less Scripture-slicing-and-dicing and more bringing of coals to Newcastle. Preaching against white racism to black people? Really? Bold fellows!
The preacher is supposed to do more than massage preconceptions. When these two reverend gentlemen preach against marital infidelity or cheating in business transactions or telling lies, do their people rise up in joy and holy pandemonium?
Not hardly, to use a popular double negative. Do they ever preach this way? Probably not. Few do. Do they preach against black racism, except as a throwaway line, saving fervor for condemning whites? Probably not.
Anyhow, the stuff we read about that makes the news is basically preaching to provide a feel-good experience for people who now and again entertain bitterness in their Christian hearts.
For a few short hours on Sunday, they can hear their bitterness confirmed by the messenger from God. It’s a sort of purgative, from which they emerge more convinced than ever that white folks just don’t get it.