Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"No Longer Bound"



A Theology of Reading and Preaching
by James H. Harris

Book Link at Amazon

A Short Book Review

James Henry Harris is Professor and Chair of Preaching and Pastoral Theology at Virginia Union University and Senior Minister at the Second Baptist Church, both in Richmond, Virginia. His earlier works include The Forbidden Word (2012), The Word Made Plain (2004), and Preaching Liberation (1996). 

In this book No Longer Bound, as the title implies, Harris is truly free, though limited in a realistic sense, to engage the word of God in a still race-divided society where freedom is shackled, love is superficial, faith is idolatrous, and hope is groundless. No one can do better than he in deftly combining an art of preaching with interpretation theory, ethics, and theology. Harris claims that preaching involves an act of love, not only based on the love of God but also on the love of self and community. 

This book is more than about preaching; it asks what preaching is, why it should be embodied in the world, and how it can be holy and holistic in the preacher's community and beyond. I have never seen a book like this in the field of homiletics; this book has souls of preaching that engage everything. I am reminded by Paul: "Test everything; hold fast to what is good" (1 Thess 5:21). The preacher is no longer bound because of this responsibility; in fact, there is no boundary for the preacher because everything is in his or her radar. Harris argues that everything must be tested and interpreted for the real people today in various communities. 

The last thing I want to point out is how important the preacher's identity or self-understanding is. As a biblical scholar (New Testament) I would like to echo him with a similar note that I often say in my classrooms: "Know who you are even before reading Scripture." This book is a must read for all who preaches and teaches scriptures.

Monday, November 4, 2013

All things change -- zhū háng wú cháng (諸行無常)

Yung Suk Kim

All things change! As nature changes, so do we. A famous Buddhist phrase comes into my mind: zhū háng wú cháng (諸行無常), which means "all things change." Life is a change. Our body cells are replaced every six years. Food changes to energy through metabolism. If there is no change, there is no life. I exist because I change!

To our dismay, our culture hardly accepts this very fact that we are to live with change. We often resist aging and dying, casting an unnecessary fantasy into life beyond this world. We don't need a utopia to escape this world.

How can we live a genuine life of a change without fears about the future? More than that, what would be an ideal character of transformation we love to embrace?