Performing the text

How shall one preach given the lateness of the hour? This question forms a haunting refrain in Richard Lischer’s book, which is based on his Lyman Beecher Lectures at Yale Divinity School. Like the title of the book, the question has more than one meaning. The hour is late because preachers have been preaching the gospel for a very long time now. The hour is late because the world shows no appreciable signs of having embraced the good news of God’s peace. The hour is late because language has become so culture-bound and diluted that words stagger under the weight of making meaning. “What does one say after a televised beheading?” Lischer asks early on, posing his question in its most graphic form.

 

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