Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The Preacher, I
Here begins what I expect to be a series of snippets and notes regarding preaching. Not snippets of sermons, so much as of technique and sermon construction and delivery.
There is no particular rhyme or reason to the order of the snippets, much as is the case with life itself, I guess.
The first such snippet is simply this:
Never say "you see." This applies not only to preaching, but to writing and instruction in general, I'd say.
"You see" is condescending, if only as an implication. It says, sit here and pay heed to me you impoverished little underlings. You uneducated infants, you poor souls who require my personal wisdom if you are to get anywhere.
For instance, never do this:
"Martha was troubled about many things, unlike her sister Mary. You see, there's a kind of anxiety that sets in when we get too . . ."
I'd suggest that "you see" is really not meant to be "you see" when it's used like this. It's a throw-away, almost rather like "you know." But while "you know" is only annoying as a repetitive substitution for "um," "you see" is more than that, I think. It's the verbal equivalent of stroking the beard, or making a tent with the fingers. It's condescending. Don't say it, preacher. Just preach.