Thursday, December 10, 2009

About That Stroke

This cat whose website I visit said something interesting the other day.

Preaching is masturbatory.

Made me take a step back and consider. We were talking about whether it's important to craft a message that most people can understand and use. I'm of the mindset that it is, he's of the mindset that it's more important to craft a message the feels good to you. He said he's about message creation, not preaching, so he's not really concerned with sparking action or changing minds.

Then he dropped that quote.

I've listened to many sermons in my lifetime. Both in church and out. I've seen folks frothing at the mouth about all sorts of issues from the deeply religious to the deeply secular. Preaching is more than just talking about God, it's talking about anything with an amazing zeal and a desire to change minds and hearts.

But, is it masturbatory?

I had my own internal idea of what masturbatory meant, but I decided to check out the dictionary definition to get something as well. Here's how the folks at Merriam Webster defined the word:

1 : of, relating to, or involving masturbation
2 : excessively self-absorbed or self-indulgent

No doubt, that describes certain preaching by certain preachers, but I don't think it encompasses the whole genre. Sure, there are cats who might as well whip out Mr. Willy and stroke him up in full view of the congregation when they are giving their sermon, but I've also seen many other preachers who can touch you with their sincerity and desire to reach people.

See, when I think of preaching, I think of spreading a message. Spreading a message so fervently that others find themselves compelled to learn more about what you're discussing. The best preachers are not trying to make themselves feel good, they're trying to direct you towards something they are convinced will make your life better.

Of course, that doesn't mean that preaching doesn't make you feel good. I don't know exactly what preachers feel since I'm not a preacher, but, I have an idea. I know how I feel when I've discussed certain issues with folks and I can see them finally "getting it."

Watching that light bulb go off feels good because you realize you've succeeded, and also because you know now there's one more ally in the fight. I remember breaking down the racist way ESPN handles sports news to a couple of homies, and watching them go from laughing off my concerns to slowly nodding their heads was a big moment. Sure, it makes me feel good, but just because something feels good doesn't make it "excessively self-indulgent." That's a whole different ball game.

Masturbation is an event solely designed to please one individual. Preaching is a different kind of stroke.



Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Well said.

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