We here at Mockingbird couldn’t be more excited about PZ’s Podcast, the new weekly offering from the Very Rev. Dr.theol. Paul Zahl. (Subscribe for free on iTunes by clicking here.) Paul has over 30 years experience as an ordained clergyman in parish ministry and even longer as an astute observer of the human predicament (and it’s only known Cure, which is what we Mbirds are all about.) That One Cure has always been Paul’s focus too, whether writing scads of books, teaching theology, or preaching sermons. Which, incidentally, is the subject of this week’s (Two Part!) Podcast.
For quite a while PZ has wanted to say more on the subject of preaching, which has become a sort of Achilles Heel for Christianity in this country, a hamstringing impediment to getting a good message out. Here, in a two-parter, he aims at what he thinks may be the heart of the preaching problem. He thinks it may be a problem faced by communicators in every time and place.
Because PZ finds much to help him in the “List of Essentials” written out by Jack Kerouac in 1953 and later amplified in Kerouac’s “Essentials of Spontaneous Prose,” he has entitled the first podcast on preaching “Bohemian Rhapsody.” (Available free from iTunes here.) The title for the second podcast, drawing on a song by The Go-Go’s, is called “Beatnik Beach” (Get it here.)
The biggest problem in preaching, he has come to find out, is not the text, it is the preacher, the person of the preacher. When that problem is engaged, everything else falls into the place. The same would go for communicators in any medium: Problemo Number One is the communicator. When the communicator knows himself or herself, what he or she is really trying to say tends to come naturally. Then the seeker in you will connect with the seeker in another. This goes for music and movies, it goes for poems and lit, it goes for religion.
Let the enduring communicator of the Twentieth Century, who “speaketh still” to youth of every age, to inquirers of every size and both sexes, help us here. I’m talking about the Sage of Lowell.
Now, open the door of your imagination, and take a walk on Beatnik Beach.