Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday afternoon preacher

So I went to a church yesterday where in the course of a very short sermon, the priest managed to use the words penultimate, declamation, and denouement.  To his credit, it was clear that these were his words; he wasn't reading from a manuscript. It sounded like he wasn't saying them to impress; he was using them because they are terrific words that perfectly captured what he was trying to say and are words he naturally uses. They are words that I love myself.

On the other hand--come on! Penultimate? Denouement?! Really? You couldn't use "next to last" or "conclusion"--or even "ending"? As a general rule, I think it's a mistake to use $5 words in most homilies, and then only when it's the absolute best, most perfectest word available. But that's me.  What do you think?

4 comments:

it's margaret said...

I'm learning to preach in a place where English is a second language.....

Songs of a Soul Journey said...
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Songs of a Soul Journey said...

(I hate it when I leave out words...) As Margaret suggests, you have frame the material you pitch to your audience, just like any good comedian or actor. Some audiences might be more erudite than others, but that is beside the point... Anyone who pitches material over the heads of their audience is liable to get a cold, hostile or bored response from the room--and deservedly so!

Anonymous said...

I think the right choice of words depends on the combination of preacher, topic, and audience. My experience of listening to sermons lately also suggests that it's as possible to err on the side of over-simplification, alas, as on the side of over-erudition. In general, though, as long as I think the person in the pulpit is taking me and my concerns seriously, I think I can listen to pretty much anything - and if I don't, then even the best assessment of my technical vocabulary level won't make much difference one way or the other.

What was the sermon about?