Clergy Clatter

April 1, 2020

When I was in seminary, one of the required classes in the core curriculum was “Homiletics” (preaching). It was held in an old chapel that they called the Oratory. It met twice a week, and at each session, two students preached on an assigned text. We then picked each other apart, unmercifully. I later learned that they were training us to be non-defensive when we got out into congregations with people criticizing our preaching. By the time we finished three years of that class, we had pretty thick skin. Some of us enjoyed Homiletics, and some of us dreaded it.

During my senior year, a video tape recorder came on the market, and the school bought it. It was made by Apex, and used a reel to reel tape that was about three inches wide. It was a big heavy box of a thing, with a great big camera on a rolling tripod. Each time it was started, it had to be “calibrated”, which was kind of like tuning in to an old test pattern. Of course, it was black and white, with a grainy picture, and it would sometime skip over stuff, or sound and picture would get out of sync, but for the first time we could see ourselves preaching. It was horrible. Picking each other apart was one thing, but this added the element of picking ourselves apart. And we all discovered that we were much more critical of ourselves, than each other.

This was when I discovered that I was a little camera shy, and that I had no desire or intention of ever being a televangelist when I got out into the big bad world. Well, guess what! I made it for 50 plus years, but then came coronavirus, and the whole world got flipped upside down. And I suddenly, very quickly, had to get a handle on You Tube, Zoom, Facebook Live, Live Streaming, and a whole new language. When I do a service on YouTube, I try to keep it down to 30 minutes or less. But it can be played back at any time, and it can be paused, and as John Childers say, “I like it because I can skip over the stuff I don’t like.” You can’t do that sitting in a pew.

Well, thanks to Buddy Pate and John Moscoe, we had our first Zoom vestry meeting. It went amazingly well. It was good to see and hear folks again. And we’re working on more YouTube services. And I guess by the time this is all over, I will be over my camera shyness. I still don’t like playing it back and looking at myself. So if I goof, don’t tell me. I might have to look.

Stay well, folks.



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