The Four Pages: Ensuring Sermon Unity

The first thing the preacher needs to do, according to Wilson, is, on Monday, to ensure that the sermon is unified. The mnemonic device for this is the sentence The Tiny Dog Now Is Mine, although I suppose any sentence whose words begin with those letters (TTDNIM) will do.

On Monday, then, the preacher's task is 'to identify: one text from the Bible [on which] to preach; one theme sentence arising from that text; one doctrine arising out of that theme sentence; one need in the congregation that the doctrine or theme sentence addresses; one image to be wed to the theme sentence; and one mission. [words in bold in the original; pp. 35-6]'

Let's look at this in more detail.


The Four Pages: Making Movies

I'm looking forward to next Sunday, the fifth of December, for I will have the opportunity to preach the sermon at my church that day; it has been a while since I last preached.

During the course of my theological studies, I learned a method of sermon composition called the 'four pages', set out in a book called The Four Pages of the Sermon (published in 1999 by Abingdon Press) by Paul Scott Wilson, who teaches preaching at Emmanuel College, one of the affiliates of the Toronto School of Theology.

I have found this method to be most useful in the writing and evaluation of my own sermons, in that I find I am more likely to say something worthwhile (this is not always immediately evident) and I find that when I receive feedback about my sermon, it is more likely to reflect what I actually said.


November Update

Having recently completed my marginal commentary of On the Beach, I should say that I am still waiting for the other two recommended books from the library. One may be available as early as next week; the next probably won't be until sometime December.

I've already noted that I will be changing when I request recommendations to take waiting for books to become available into account.

In the meantime, I will probably dig up some other book to read and comment upon.

'Sorry I couldn't get down to the beach'

If there is a lesson to Nevil Shute's On the Beach, at least, of the copy we have at home, it is the cliché, 'don't judge a book by its cover'. Because the copy I am reading from is dreadful to behold: a garish orange publication by Pan Books, with a naval man clutching a desperate woman (both drawn in that awful late sixties realist style) and, on the back, the whole story compressed into an unfeeling paragraph just to sell it.

The original book was published in 1957, so the events it portrays would have been, for its first readers, speculative fiction about the future, for it occurs sometime in the early sixties. The Pan Books edition I have (from which page citations are taken), was first published in 1966 and had reached a fourth printing in 1969, indicative of the book's popularity at the time.


On The Letter

Time for some marginal commentary on The Letter, a novel by Richard Paul Evans.

Unlike my posts thus far on the Harry Potter books, which have been, in essence, attempts at literary criticism, I will be sticking mostly to citing passages from this book and commenting upon them - which is what most marginal commentary in fact is.

References to page numbers are from the 1997 hardcover publication by Simon & Schuster.


Changing Reader Recommendations

You'll have to wait a bit for my marginal commentary on some the books recommended by readers for November. This is because the wait for two of the recommended books at the Ottawa Public Library is long, and I may have to wait until next month to get my hands on one or both of them.

Because I anticipate this sort of thing is likely to happen frequently (that is, that I will be waiting to get my hands on recommended books because no copies are available at one or another library), I will be changing when I take suggestions for books to read and write about.

I won't be taking reader recommendations for the month of December this year. Instead, in mid-December, I will hold my next reader recommendation post for January of the new year. If I sought recommendations for books in mid-November for next month, it would follow too closely on the heels of this month's post; besides which, I will be lucky if I get my hands on some of the books before December that I am supposed to have read and written about this month.

I'll be updating the page on recommending books to take account of this change.

Keep your eyes peeled for my first marginal commentaries on the books recommended by readers!


Tragedy in the Goblet of Fire

If J. K. Rowling had written Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as a tragedy, the protagonist would not be Harry Potter, but Barty Crouch, Sr.

Now, upon investigation, the story of Barty Crouch, Sr., does not follow the Aristotelean definition of tragedy; still, I think there is no question that Crouch is a tragic figure, at least if tragedy is loosely understood.

I want to explore the tragic story of the Crouch family because upon further reading of and reflection upon The Goblet of Fire I believe that it is this story that drives the plot. It is in many ways one of the most important elements of the book, and the degenerate form which it took in the film was a weakness. Barty Crouch, Sr., became a timid old fart; and Barty Crouch, Jr., a cardboard nutjob with a tic. One of the most enjoyable aspects of The Goblet of Fire (the book, I mean) is the discovery of the wider wizarding world, to which Harry has been (despite his importance as the Boy Who Lived) a peripheral figure, and which has a life and energy of its own apart from Harry and Hogwarts. The story of the Crouches is part of that world.

Dumbledore's epitaph on Barty Crouch, Jr. is applicable in part to his father: 'see what that man chose to make of his life! [p, 615]' We shall see how essential the tragedy of Barty Crouch, Sr., is to the plot of The Goblet of Fire, how the Crouch family dynamics and relationships implied or discussed in the book imitate, in however fantastic a way, those of ordinary families, and what lesson, if lesson there is, we can take from the example of the Crouches.


November Selections

I decided upon reflection to randomly choose three books for November, instead of two as I stated when I asked for recommendations.

Thus I've selected at random the three books to read (and comment upon) for November!

The selected books are:

The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

On the Beach by Nevil Shute

I am also reading a 'bonus' book, The Letter, by Richard Paul Evans (thanks Mom!).

Thank you to everyone who submitted recommendations: Dan, Taylor, Jeff, Keith, and Lauren!

Depending on how swiftly I am able to finish some of these, I may be able to read one or both of the other suggestions.

Keep your eyes peeled for commentary on these books, as well as my ongoing marginalia about the Harry Potter books.


Reader Recommendations: November

Here's the first opportunity for you, my readers, to recommend books for me to read and comment upon this month.

Before making a recommendation, I suggest you read the guidelines on the page, 'How to Recommend Books'. Just select the hyperlink here, or you can click on the link of the same name on the right-hand side under the heading 'Pages'.

Don't forget to make your recommendations in the comments section of this post!

I'm looking forward to seeing some interesting suggestions. Throw them out there, I want lots to choose from. This month, it can be any sort of books you have in mind. The three books will be randomly chosen from the list of recommendations; I will draw them out of a hat or something.

Update! The number of books I will accept for recommendations this month has gone down to two. The reason for this is that I have already accepted a recommendation for a book to read this month from my mother. It's the least I can do for someone who feeds me and puts a roof over my head. When I make a post announcing which books, randomly selected, I am going to read, I'll include this one and you can all try to guess which book it was she asked me to read.