Chapter 2, “No News Is Bad News: God in the Present Tense” pp. 27-54.
Long begins this chapter with a narrative of Martin Luther’s first consecration of the Mass. He had a moment of fear as he considered the gravity of addressing God (Long 2009, 28). Long continues to observe that while some try to psychologize experiences, Luther’s habit of viewing life through a theological lens may be preferable (Long 2009, 30). Our culture, on the other hand, tends to push spiritual matters to the side (Long 2009, 31). Christianity does not allow that practice.
Long questions whether Christian preachers have lost this language as they have tried to communicate in too many ways (Long 2009, 32). Long asserts, “Yes, there is plenty of God-talk and religious chatter in the pulpit today, but what seems absent is the vibrant sense of the living divine reality, the holy presence that almost sent Luther fleeing from the chancel” (Long 2009, 34). What has replaced this powerful experience is helpful advice (Long 2009, 37). Yet often this wisdom is devoid of the great theological power. Long contrasts this with the preaching of Augustine (Long 2009, 39).
Long wishes “for preaching today to gain a deeper participation in the eventfulness of God” (Long 2009, 41). This may come about in part as pastors trust that God will speak through them. The challenge remaining is that in the act of preaching the pastor, a mere human, deals with God’s powerful word (Long 2009, 42). Making the connection between God’s Word and His people remains a challenge in every age (Long 2009, 44).
Long discusses this concept in the work of Paul Ricoeur, who creates a conversation between Aristotle and Augustine. The nature of literature is changing discord into concord through imitation of human words and deeds (Long 2009, 45. The sermon starts with fragments of life in words (Long 2009, 46). The biblical text is brought up and interacts with those pieces of life. Much preaching stops there. Yet Long, with Ricoeur, says the process is not complete until the hearer interacts with this new proposed order and refigures his own world in some way. This brings the text fully to life (Long 2009, 48). Long proposes this as a means of exegesis (Long 2009, 49). He illustrates attempts to bring the text into contact with life and thus life into contact with biblical text (Long 2009, 50).