Category Archives for "Book Reviews"

Somebody’s Calling My Name – Review

Walker provides a glimpse into the characteristics and importance of music to African Americans. It is her contention that music, preaching, and praying are all fundamentals to helping the African American survive in this land. There are a few very helpful and interesting assertions. First on page 25 and 26 she implies that liberation requires spirited music which in some ways is subversive to the dominant cultural idea of more “restrained” worship. This would imply that those churches that do not engage in spirited worship practices might be less inclined to fight for liberation.

Music as Glue to Hold African Americans Together

Another important thought from the book is that music became the glue that held together all these different African groups who were forced to be together. This glue even held when they took the drum from us and we simply substituted hand claps or foot stomps. (Page 29) Another interesting thought is the idea that the preaching tradition grew out of the singing tradition which can account for the importance of “musical” elements like rhythm and tone in Black preaching.

There are also helpful parts like the purpose of the spiritual on page 47 where she lists 7 including the subversive use of the spirituals to help people make use of the Underground Railroad.

Finally as a preacher, the characteristics of the spiritual on pages 51-63 are especially interesting for they also seem to be characteristics of black preaching. These are: Deep Biblicism, eternality of the message, rhythm, improvisation, double or coded meaning, repetition, and unique imagery. Walker provides a historic background that helps preachers understand where these characteristics came from in the African American preaching tradition.

Weary Throats and New Songs

Teresa Frye Brown’s musical ministry forms a background for her application of music a metaphor to the preaching moment. In the book she interviews numerous preaching sistas and uses categories from her homiletics courses to structure the data that she found in the interviews. The result is a helpful Black Women’s Commentary on the homiletic process. After reading the book I felt a renewed resolve to promote and defend women in ministry as well as an imperative to follow God’s call on my own life irregardless of ecclesial impediments to my journey.

Ordination and the Call

The first couple of chapters provide information on ordination and call that every male minister of the Gospel should keep in mind. It is a review of the gender barrier to ordination. Interestingly enough this aspect of the book also demonstrated the resolve of our sisters to find ways and means to preach the gospel irregardless of these barriers. While we should never accept discrimination in any form, I did find the list of venues for women’s in ministry to be a very helpful way to see other possible ways to minister apart from the pulpit in the church that all ministers, male and female, should look at. Our sisters have shown us the way to greater ministry.

Biblical Exegesis

After call and ordination, Brown moves to a discussion of Biblical exegesis, themes, and structures for sermons by Black women. I found that this section demonstrated that while some women have a tendency towards preaching actively for liberation of women, most of the themes such as purpose, hope, and liberation of the poor holds much in common with the Black male preacher.

The Whoop

Of special interest was the discussion of the “whoop.” In the past the Whoop has been looked down upon. Today I am finding more and more seeking to implement whoop or “whoop-like” elements in their sermons. I found it helpful the way she discusses a criteria for evaluating the appropriateness of the whoop in a particular sermon. In addition to this, I liked the inclusion of a list of dialogical cues from black women preachers that call for response from the congregation. These cues are sayings like “Stay with me!” or “Amen Lights!” Many of these I have heard in black churches. What is interesting about the list is that the wide variety of statements points to an underlying premium on authenticity.

The variety of cues to call and response demonstrates that the Black Pulpit allows one to be oneself. This is an especially interesting statement in light of the fact that Black women have not always been allowed to be their selves. An example of this is the discussion of ecclesial clothing. I think that there are many interesting points, but after reading this I saw again the need for women to not only be preachers, but women to be themselves when preaching. Especially because the Black pulpit has placed a premium on authenticity, the black women should not be chastised for being a woman (makeup and clothing) or for sounding like a woman.

After reading the book, I am becoming more and more convinced that a book on black preaching must have an audio component. How can one speak about the whoop or homiletical devices without giving an audio example? This could be helpful to preachers who have not been steeped in this form of Black preaching.

Another issue in the book is that only Brown’s sermons were included in the book. I understand that people pushed her to do this, but I think that a wider variety of voices might have helped. If one did not provide a wider variety of voices then at least provide a wider variety of sermonic styles. Perhaps she could have provided examples of an expository, celebrationist, thematic, and other types of sermons to demonstrate the richness of the African American women’s approach to the preaching task.

Top 10 Selling Preaching Books Through this Site: Part 3

Here are the two best selling books on preaching through this site.

The Practice of PreachingNumber two is the The Practice of Preaching by Paul Scott Wilson. This is one of my favorite books on preaching because it takes you through a typical sermon preparation week. You begin by looking at the text. Tons of questions are included to help you exegete the text. Then you go to looking at how you will put the sermon together. Once again there is a lot of aid here as well. The book is meant to be a textbook of preaching and thus has a lot of exercizes to help the beginning preacher. I cannot recommend the book enough and would suggest that it be a part of every beginning preachers library.

They Like to Never Quit Praisin\' God: The Role of Celebration in PreachingFinally, the best selling book through this website is They Like to Never Quit Praisin\’ God: The Role of Celebration in Preaching by Frank Thomas. This book is recommended highly by others including the Senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ Dr. Jeremiah Wright who said that if he had only three books to recommend it would be this one, Gardner Taylors book, and Holy Spirit and Preaching by James Forbes. This book takes you step by step in preaching a sermon that has Henry Mitchell’s concept of celebration at its center. This book revolutionized my own preaching and I would definitely suggest you purchase it if you can. You can also obtain a set of audio lessons based on the book from the author at this link.

Top 10 Selling Preaching Books Through this Site: Part 2

In this post we continue looking at the top 10 selling preaching books bought through this site.

Practical Theology for Black Churches: Bridging Black Theology and African American Folk ReligionThe fifth book is Practical Theology for Black Churches: Bridging Black Theology and African American Folk Religionwritten by Dale Andrews. This is actually his PhD disseratation modified for publication. There are some difficult portions of the book, but in general it provides a good look at the split between academic Black Theology and the Black Churches. I think it is a valuable look at why this split has taken place and how we can bridge the gulf between the two.

Interpreting God\'s Word in Black PreachingThe fourth most pupular book is Interpreting God\’s Word in Black Preaching by Warren Stewart. Here is a link to a Review that I did for the book on another site. The book points to holistic liberation as the objective of African American hermeneutics for preaching. In addition the preacher should support and challenge the people. Also, the Black Preacher should create a living experience with the word. These and other insights are in the book. I would suggest that you get ahold of this book as well. You can find them used for less than 5 bucks on occassion. This is a short but powerful book that can help the preacher look at the Bible itself like a Black Preacher.

Power in the Pulpit: How America\'s Most Effective Black Preachers Prepare Their SermonsThe third most popular book is Power in the Pulpit: How America\’s Most Effective Black Preachers Prepare Their Sermons by Cleo LaRue. This book is a compilation of chapters by Black America’s giants of preaching. There is Charles G. Adams, Charles E. Booth, H. B. Charles, Prathia Hall, Zen Holmes, Carolyn Ann Knight, Joe Samuel Ratliff, Cheryl Sanders, J. Alfred Smith, Gardner Taylor, William Watley, and Ralph West. In Each Chapter the preacher describes her or his method of putting a sermon together. This is very interesting. Finally a sermon from each preacher is included. I found it very helpful to see the methods that some of the Princes of the Pulpit use.

Top 10 Selling Preaching Books Through this Site: Part 1

I have been blogging on preaching for about a year now. Through all the blogs I have suggested books on preaching. Over the past year here are the top 10 best selling books on preaching.

Preacher, Can You Hear Us Listening?The 10th most popular selling book through my blogs is Preacher, Can You Hear Us Listening?. I have never read or suggested this book, but it was still on our list becuase one person bought it through the site. It does look interesting in that it suggests that preachers listen to their congregation. This is an interesting area of research that my own professor Dr. John McClure has edited four volumes on in the “Listening to Listeners” project.

The Witness of Preaching, Second EditionThe ninth most popular selling book is the The Four Pages of the Sermon: A Guide to Biblical Preaching by Thomas Long. This was one of the textbooks in my Introduction to Preaching course. I think he does a very good job of introducing the studen to homiletics in a quick way. I especially find it helpfu to see many structures of sermons in one place. I have not purchased the second edition, but will very soon. This is one of the books that should be on every preachers shelf, especially those preachers who seek to teach others how to preach.

The Heart of Black PreachingOur eight most popular book is one of my favorite books on preaching, The Heart of Black Preaching by Cleo LaRue. This book is a very good introduction to African American Preaching. There are a few important things that make it valuable. First it seeks to present a Black Preaching Theological perspective and demonstrates this theological perspective by looking at a few sermons in depth throughout history. These sermons are in the book in the appendix. In addition, LaRue presents a clasfication scheme for categorizing the purposes of Black sermons that is very helpful. You can find this book pretty cheap on the web so I would suggest adding it to your library.

The Four Pages of the Sermon: A Guide to Biblical PreachingThe seventh most popular book is Paul Scott Wilson’s book The Four Pages of the Sermon: A Guide to Biblical Preaching. Once again I have not read the book, although it is in my library, it does provide an interesting classification scheme for sermon preparation. On each of the four pages you look at the text under consideration from a different perspective. I will eventually get to it in my reading.

Preaching in Black and WhiteAnd our sixth most popular book is Preaching in Black and White. What can a white and a black preacher learn from each other? These kinds of conversations are always tough to have without stereotyping one or the other perspective. I have not read the book, but I hope that it is not the typical “Black preaching can learn logic and intellectual stimulation from white preaching and white preaching can learn style and verbal eloquence from black preaching.” I don’t know if this book does that because I have not read it, but I hope that it recognizes that black preaching is more than style and white preaching is not solely about intelectual stimulation.

Stay tuned for the top 5 books that you have purchased though this site.