Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Who Caused the Volcano?

An Iranian cleric says, “Many women who do not dress modestly…lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes.” Must be a friend of Pat Robertson’s, who blamed the Haitians for causing their earthquake.

Speaking of Pat, I wonder what he’s blaming the Iceland volcano on? I picture him frantically turning pages in an encyclopedia or almanac, trying to figure out what godless acts have caused this inconvenience/disaster? It's affecting all of Europe, travel-wise, so he has a pretty wide field to choose from this time.

What's in a Word?

January 5, 2010
The paper listed words/phrases that people feel should be banned from the lexicon: czar (as in drug czar, media czar, etc); shovel-ready; tweet.

Later I read an article discussing a sports matchup, and someone was quoted as saying that the teams involved “weren’t the sexiest matchup…” (I tried REALLY HARD to find it so I could quote it exactly, but can’t).

I hereby nominate “sexy” as the most mis-used word.

The Real Threat...

April 10, 2010

“Doonesbury” is giving Starbucks a hard time for not banning guns in open-carry states, the way a couple of other chains did. While I think it’s insanity to allow guns in bars, I don’t see why Starbucks needs to jump on the no-gun bandwagon.

I’d be more wary of open-carry if I were a movie-theater owner—somebody might just get tired of the incessant talker in the seat behind him.


January 14, 2014

On January 13, 2014 a man in Florida did, in fact, shoot another man and the man's wife in a dispute over texting in the movie theater.

Just Curious

1) People are mad because Idaho didn’t pass a law against texting. One columnist said that he knows how his kids text and it terrifies him. I wrote in and asked if that meant that he knew his kids were texting while driving; if so, why didn’t he take either the car keys or the cell phone away until they got the message that texting while driving is a huge no-no?

But I was over the Statesman's letter limit (one per month)and it didn’t get published. I also predicted he’d get a lot more letters asking the same question, but I was wrong. Apparently I was the only person who even asked.

2) Truth in Advertising: If military recruiting ads had the same guidelines as pharmaceutical ads, would they run something like this?

After the spiel about being all you can be, or offering to pay for your education, they might end with, “Service with the military may cause physical or mental impairment or death…” or at the least, “After military service, mind and/or body may not function at pre-service levels.”

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Art of the Ten-Minute Sermon

Since my motto is “Brevity is a virtue” I’ll spare you my long, well-reasoned spiel on why short sermons are better than long ones.

Here are the Highlights:

1. People have short attention spans and are more likely to take something from a short sermon away with them, and think about it even after they’re out of church

2. You have a better chance of enticing visitors to your church to come back a second time if you don’t bore them to death the first time.

The Art of the Ten-Minute Sermon (Part 2)

I notice certain common practices among preachers. They include:

1. Give at least 3 examples that illustrate the point you’re about to make, and/or
2. Repeat a catchphrase throughout the sermon, to drive the point home

The problem with giving 3 examples is that, if the examples are long, they drag out the sermon. And people think (at least I do), “OK, got it the first time.”

And the repeated catchphrase makes the pastor work too hard to work it into the sermon repeatedly, and the sermon sounds like a campaign speech and not spiritual guidance.

I heard two different sermons about the same topic. One took 5 minutes, was short and sincere, and I remember it 10 years later. The other employed an oft-repeated catchphrase, lasted 25 minutes, and made me think, “He could have said all this in 5 minutes!”

This Easter, a pastor at yet another church, under the pressure of impressing the twice-a-year attendees, gave a stagy, structured Easter sermon, repeating a catchphrase throughout. (Some day I’m going to take on a new career as Sermon Teacher at seminaries, because they clearly need a new playbook.) Anyway, I forget what it was about.

So on the way home, I gave my daughter a super-short sermon. I said, “Easter is a celebration of how Jesus died and rose again to take away our sins. So I think we should use it as a kind of New Year’s Day, to remind us of His teachings, and strengthen our resolutions to try and put His teachings into practice.”

She remembers it.

The Art of the Ten-Minute Sermon (Part 3)

Here is one (one!) example of a short sermon:

“Christianity is easier in theory than in practice. For instance, we all love one another (of course!), but we don’t want to slide over and make room in the pew.”

Think about that for while.

(I know it sounds like something Garrison Keillor might have said, but it's one I thought up and used myself.)

The Art of the Ten-Minute Sermon (Part 4)

If you really want tips on short but effective sermon-writing (and you should!) track down Pastor Charles S. Mueller, Sr., formerly of Trinity Lutheran Church in Roselle, Illinois. The man had it down to a science. Short, memorable, relevant, spiritual…He could pack it all into ten (or twelve) minutes.