Reading as Sermon Prep

June 13, 2012

Books & Culture magazine recently had a good article on the need for preachers (or speakers in general) to read good books. Here are a couple highlights:

From the masters of language the preacher can learn conciseness, rhythm, euphony, and rhetorical devices such as consonance. He can learn to change up his sentence length and sentence functions. He can learn Ring Lardner's sentence, "'Shut up,' he explained." ... Saying good preaching depends on good diction is a little like saying good cooking depends on choosing good ingredients. ... The preacher's ear is tuned by absorbing excellent language, even if unconsciously. ... Good diction can give us preachers an apt rhetorical register and lively narrative movement and conciseness and a whole wide world opened by the deliberate choice of this word instead of that one.
The article includes several examples from famous authors and rhetors, as well as a few specific rhetorical devices one could employ.