Thursday, 29 November 2007

Bad girls and good theology

The URC headquarters are just round the corner from St Pancras and on my visit there I could not resist spending some time (yes and some money) in the book shop. I bought quite a lot of liturgy books, mainly from Wild Goose publications - the imprint of the Iona community. But one book I bought and then read straight away - on and off all through the night - was Susan Durber's Preaching like a Woman. It was a really heartening and interesting read. I've long admired Susan's sermons and quite a number of them are included in the book. She manages to be both erudite, literary, biblical and relevant to the concerns of those hearing the word.
It is the introductory parts to each section which I found particularly stimulating and helpful for setting out an intellectual framework for preaching. It rang very true for me and I realised reading it how much preachers forget to reflect theologically on the act of preaching itself. I shall re-read it over coming days - in a slightly less champagne-fuelled state. The book really deserves a much wider audience than only those preaching like women. Anyway it's also good that a person so committed to excellent and challenging preaching recently took up the post as Principal of Westminister College Cambridge - a place training future preachers in the URC.
And the reference to Bad Girls has to do with the film that was playing late at night in my hotel room as I was reading Susan's book. It's a movie that offers a different take on the Western with 4 "fallen" women as the strong leads in the film. In a way, as with much that Susan Durber says in preaching like a woman, it is all about telling the story differently, finding a new way in.
Anyway as they say "Good girls get to go to heaven, bad girls get to go everywhere!"