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I have this really weird gift.  When I watch a movie trailer, I come away knowing all there is to know about the movie.  Just from the trailer, I can predict the overall movie’s quality and eventually find that I’m not far off. 

But not only can I predict the quality of the movie, but I can predict . . . the whole movie.  My gift allow me to, in my mind’s eye, “fill in the gaps” of the trailer and mentally imagine how the movie plays out.  Like, everything: plot developments, establishing shots, dramatic turns, dialogue, plot devices, etc, etc..  It’s scary how right on the money my prediction usually turns out.  With this gift, I “saw” Ironman before anyone else did – before even I did.  In fact, I’ve already “seen” this summer’s blockbusters: Indy Jones, Batman, the Hulk, SITC.  Going to movies now is an exercise in redundancy.  They no longer entertain.

 

I also have this really weird spiritual gift, which is a lot like my movie-trailer gift.  When I first sit down in the pew on Sunday mornings and read the sermon title and outline, it’s like my movie-trailer gift.  I already know what’s coming.  I can effectively “fill in the gaps” of the outline, flesh it out.  Before the pastor has even cleared his throat, I already know how the sermon will play out.  Like, everything: illustrations, transition points, application, bible references.  It’s uncanny how accurate my prediction plays out.  I can run the sermon in my head in 10 seconds flat, then be amazed at how little off the mark I am as the actual sermon later plods along over 45 minutes.  (Sadly, sometimes my 10-second sermon is better than the actual).  The point is that after sitting through thousands of sermons, I am no longer surprised, illumined, or even interested with the current sermon.  It is all so predictable.  The illustrations may be different (or not!), but the point is always the dreary predictable same.  Because I know what’s coming up, listening to sermons now is an exercise in redundancy.  They no longer enlighten.

 

Something drastic has to change about the sermon format because 11 am on a Sunday morning is fast-becoming the most sleep-inducing, mind-numbingly stale hour of the week.

 

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(for those who might be tempted to tell me that the fault is mine, that I should have a more receptive heart and attentive ear during the sermon, that I should pray for enlightenment, you should know that I have this other gift.  It’s called the blog-response gift, and I already know what you’re going to say).

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One Comment

  1. Maybe you do have a gift. maybe it’s more of a curse. regardless, i think there’s something else going on. and that something is that movies and media in general have become entirely predictable to everyone. films especially are more of linear narratives that are formulaic precisely because the formula hits the spot– satisfies some internal desire of the typical movie-goer. we watch chick flicks because we want to see love triangles and breaking up/hooking up again, sabotage and nerds turned jocks. it gives us pleasure.

    many films–like the summer blockbusters you mentioned–simply build on well known existing storylines or are replications of them.

    then there are films that multiply plot lines and are entirely unpredictable because the characters are not meant to be identifiable with or loved. there is no logical flow. these films are satisfying in another way because they emulate life and revel in the impossibility of calculating how things go. take there will be blood for instance. or pirates of the carribean 3. or the hours or amelie. or adaption. films of a different order.

    maybe sermons have become formulaic because it’s the easy way to package the bible into nice digestible food bits for the congregation. benefits: sermons reaffirm your existing beliefs, continue to drill the same set of ideas into your conscience, heart/mind/soul. yes these sermons should be a max of 30 minutes long to avoid becoming long droning endless mumble jumbles of the bad-lecturers in universities type of order.

    downsides: gloss over infinite nature of God and the not fully understandable beauty of his word and promises.


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