The Orthodox Leader

Archive for July, 2013

Reflections on Prayer

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Thom Rainer, a prolific Baptist writer and former seminary dean, recently published an article titled “9 Reasons Why Church Leaders Struggle with Prayer.” I’ve thought about the article several times since it appeared about a week ago and decided to record some of those thoughts here. Read the article, then come back here.

In no particular order:

  1. I believe he’s fundamentally correct that many, and perhaps most, church leaders, including Orthodox clergy and laity, struggle with prayer. I know this has been true for me at several points, and I hear of it often from others. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

July 30th, 2013 at 8:30 am

The Value of Memorization

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In reflecting on the distracted hearer, I had intended, but then failed, to make mention of a valuable practice that can be used to battle that problem: memorization of Scripture. It was going to be a brief point yesterday, but, thanks to its omission, merits something of an excursus. Yesterday’s article talked about the enabling role of technology in fostering a distracted mind (with its notable effect on preaching, for both the preacher and the hearer). However, this same technology can be used to develop mental focus.

One of the best ways is through memorization of Scripture and of the prayers of the Church. Before I say any more, just think about your favorite music. Choose any you like, as long as it has lyrics. When you hear the opening parts of a familiar work, the mind almost immediately recalls the lyrics. If listening to an album, the end of one song immediately prompts the memory of the next. Recall is the basis of old game shows like “Name that Tune” and new games like SongPop. Memorization has long been an important component of literature classes. How many can recite some portion of Shakespeare or Chaucer from a high school English class from long ago? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

July 16th, 2013 at 11:11 am

Posted in Preaching

The Distracted Hearer

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The day jobThere are two sides in this matter of preaching (the topic I started last time), which means there are ultimately two primary sources of difficulty. The first side is, of course, the preacher himself, and the second is his hearer. I’ll tackle the second one first for no other reason than that I think it conditions the first.

 In our time, the hearer presents a mix of issues, broadly speaking:

  1. A short attention span
  2. A desire for entertainment and exciting topics.
  3. An expectation that preaching be a boost for self-esteem, or motivational according to the popular definition.

These are not entirely new phenomena (see the citation from St John Chrysostom in the preceding post). There has long been a bias in the direction of flattery, which is why it is so effective for politicians. There are, nonetheless, some differences in this early 21st century. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

July 15th, 2013 at 10:01 am

Posted in Preaching

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