Friday, April 29, 2005

Readings

* Orthodox Holy Week: A Liturgical Explanation and Dear Reporter... at "Orthodixie"

* Songs of Procrastination at "Challies.com" looks at hymns that aren't quite hymn-like (hat-tip: Rebecca Writes)

* Apparently most people take a much more serious view of sermon-borrowing than I do. Plagiarism and Preaching at "The Narnia 3 Blog" comes down strongly against. I confess, I don't see how it's plagiarism unless the preacher deliberately covers it up by actually insisting that he authored the sermon. But, then, I suppose, when I think of sermon-borrowing, I always think of early modern Anglicans, among whom it was often expected. That's the reason published sermons became so popular at the time: they were published in part to get them out into the world for other people to adapt to their own use. There was a general recognition that people called to ministry have different strengths: some people are especially good at writing a sermon, and sermon-borrowing made it possible for people far away to benefit in a way from their sermons. Preaching was a community thing. So in early modern Anglican preaching, there were three types of sermons: original sermons (like the published sermons of Norris or Tillotson), adapted sermons that drew large sections from the sermons of others but reworked them for various purposes (like the published sermons of Sterne), and straightforwardly borrowed sermons. The two latter were probably much more common than the former. (On the other hand, it seems clear that the charge of plagiarism occasionally did come up; in Tristram Shandy Sterne occasionally satirizes occasional pedantic parishioners who are more concerned about whether the sermon was preached by someone else than whether they were getting good doctrine. It's some of Sterne's best work, actually; he has great passages in which he attacks plagiarizing preachers with much gusto -- but the attack consists entirely of passages lifted from other people.) As I said in a post on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s plagiarisms, plagiarism only makes sense in a context in which ideas take back-seat to reputation or money -- which is why it is the cardinal sin in academics or journalism. If sermon-borrowing is stealing and lying -- or would be seen as stealing and lying in one's community, which (by the principle of avoiding scandal) is much the same thing -- it should be avoided. But it's trickier than one might think to pin down stealing and lying in this sort of case; it can be done quite innocently. One thinks of I Peter and Jude. And we have to watch out for the (in my opinion, more serious) opposite problem, despite its being less obvious: Were I a preacher, I wouldn't preach anything but original sermons -- but that would be purely due to vanity, and that's not a good thing. Nonetheless, I tend in these matters to defer to others; go read the post.

* History Carnival VII at "Studi Galileiani"

* The Audacity of Jesus at "Wittenberg Gate"

* An excellent post at "Dawn Xiana Moon": Jim Wallis, the Bible, and Poverty. How often does the New Testament talk about poverty and the marginalized? A lot.

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