Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Preachers Toolbox: A Sense of Humour

Preachers get taught skills but it's obvious that without a changed heart it doesn't matter how technically skillful you are. Peter Leithart take things from a fresh angle - considering texts like music and jokes.

He argues in Deep Exegesis that Shrek is a goldmine of hermeneutical insight. Everything funny depends on knowing information that the film doesn't provide from the canon of nursery rhymes, fairy tales and pop culture... you can see that in the torture scene about the muffin man, or the matrix scene in the forest and so on:
"Shrek is impenetrable unless the viewer comes armed with a chase of nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and recollections from pop culture. a view ignorant of these resources does not miss some marginal features of the film; he misses the entire meaning. He does not get it." (p115)
So it can often be when we come to the text of the Bible:
"Every text is a joke, and a good interpreter is one with a good sense of humor, one with a broad knowledge and the wit to know what bits of knowledge are relevant. All interpretation is a matter of getting it." (p115)
Filtering the knowledge is surely a spiritual matter. And so:
"If interpretation is more like getting a joke than it is like dissecting a frog, then only certain kinds of people will be good interpreters. If texts are jokes, no strictly procedural hermeneutics will do. Rather, a "humorneutical" approach emphasizes instead the character of the interpreter. What, after all, can one do with someone who has no sense of humor? Analysis and teaching might improve things marginally, but that person's main problem is not technical but a spiritual one: somebody without a sense of humor suffers from a contracted soul, and the only real solution is conversion. Interpretive skills can be taught and improved, but only the glad of heart makes good readers."  (p139)
The preacher needs a lively heart to read the Bible. And, to laugh heartily when looking in the mirror too.

Buy: Deep Exegesis - Peter Leithart

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