Can God bring good out of bad preaching? Here’s Jayber:
“In general, I weathered even the worst sermons pretty well. They had the great virtue of causing my mind to wander. Some of the best things I have ever thought of I have thought of during bad sermons. Or I would look out the windows. In winter, when the windows were closed, the church seemed to admit the light strictly on its own terms, as if uneasy about the frank sunshine of this benighted world. In summer, when the sashes were raised, I watched with a great, eager pleasure the town and the fields beyond, the clouds, the trees, the movements of the air—but then the sermons would seem more improbable. I have always loved a window, especially an open one.”
Notice how he speaks of “weathering” sermons, then talks a lot about the weather. Are there symbolic connections in this paragraph between bad preaching and winter and darkness? Are there connections between the word of God going forth to give life and summer? Is Jayber seeing a connection between better sermons being harder to believe? Is this a symbolic reference to a window at the end? Is good preaching a window on the world? What do you think?
One response to “Jayber Crow on “Weathering” Sermons”
I think what Wendell is getting at in this passage (and in much of his writing) is that God is experienced most intimately and directly through his creation. Wendell seems to be very comfortable holding to a kind of natural theology. Doctrine, dogma, creeds, etc aren’t where he (or his characters) seem to connect most intimately with God. It’s in the raw earth, behind a plow, in the approach of a storm, etc. I see this passage almost as if he is saying that in the midst of an institutional gathering–complete with preacher/spiritual officiant and sermon (good or bad)–that God beckons from outside the expected/common arena and whispers for us to look outside the open window to meet him.