Monday, February 22, 2010

Sermons on Creation - and John Wilkes Booth (?!)

I do not recommend reading sermon after sermon after sermon. But, this weekend I did precisely that.

I am garnering supplemental resources for students in classes that I teach associated with Biblical Theology and Global Stewardship. I am convinced that the Bible understands us to be stewards in God’s creation – but do not think the Bible has a distinct amount of significant textual space given to the issue. I do believe the Bible addresses it, for sure. But, in truth, the bulk of texts that address the issues of how we use space include principally the Pentateuch, the Psalms, some Wisdom Literature – references to justice and land in the Prophets – but very little directly in the NT – perhaps some parables, a few Pauline notes, and then Revelation. But, while a thread of themes are throughout – no coherent organzing ecological or stewardship “agenda” connects the whole of the corpus. Thus, it is nice to read reflections and ideas of others.

I read first the text: Earth and Word: Classic Sermons on Saving the Planet edited by David Rhoads. Most of the sermons were really quite good and several of them I will find a means to incorporate and use with students/persons I work with. In particular, I am certain I will use the sermons by: Peter Bakken, Tanya Marcovna Barnett, Diane Bergant, Wendell Berry (how can I not use Berry!?!), Sally Bingham, Margaret, Bullitt-Jonas, Theodore Hiebert, Bill McKibben, Ched Myers, Barbara Rossing, and H. Paul Santmire. Some excellent reflections, calls to consider, and just “good preaching” found here. Delightful reading and I look forward to re-reading with students in specific contexts where the reading is not so “tightly packed” for me!

I also read, The Best Preaching on Earth: Sermons on Caring for Creation edited by Stan L. LeQuire. I read and resourced this text a few years back – but of course went back to it in my new time of re-thinking some tools for teaching. I am glad I read Earth and Word first. There are good reflections and sermons in The Best Preaching on Earth, but not nearly as well done as Earth and Word. The only two specific sermons I will use for pedagogical practice from this text included the sermon written by Michael L. Blaine and then an article by Jim Wallis.


Who cares if it’s written for a youthful audience. I really enjoyed reading Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James Swanson. The text pieces together the historical record of what led John Wilkes Booth to participate in a larger series of attacks on the President and others on the night of April 14th. I, for example, had not taken time to consider other persons involved in “the plot” to assassinate the President – nor was I aware of the fact that there were other Cabinet level officials that were planned for attack and or attacked on the same night. We took our children to Ford Theater a few years back when we were in D.C. – so I knew that Lincoln had died in a house across the street from the Theater. We visited that house, as well. But, this delightfully constructed historical fiction allowed me to “get into the story” of John Wilkes Booth and learn more about “Washington City” as D.C. was referred to – and much more. If all books on history were written with this style and flair, there would be many more young people lining up to study history. A delightful read!

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