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I give these, occasionally - I work at a school which encourages that sort of thing - and enjoy it a lot.

I just thought - I'd like to read a book of them. Interesting ones, I guess, or powerful ones - I am not so into 'important' ones but that could be okay. Does anyone have any recommendations? I have never read a sermon on the internet that isn't basically 100% boring and drab but surely there must be lots of published collections by obscure but inspired preachers/bishops etc?

Gravel Puzzleworth, Wednesday, 12 November 2008 21:24 (fifteen years ago) link

My first thought.

Manchego Bay (G00blar), Wednesday, 12 November 2008 21:39 (fifteen years ago) link

Stevie T, Wednesday, 12 November 2008 21:42 (fifteen years ago) link

Sermon collections used to be big, big, BIG in the publishing world from about 1560 to 1880. Then the bottom dropped out of the market in the 20th century. You might rummage around in antiquarian bookstores.

Aimless, Thursday, 13 November 2008 01:05 (fifteen years ago) link

I've only read a handful of medieval sermons, and they weren't anything to write home about. Although they were fine? Most of the early published collections were almost more like books of templates that you could rewrite a bit and call your own, it seems. I guess it depends on what you're looking for.

Casuistry, Thursday, 13 November 2008 01:54 (fifteen years ago) link

The emerson is a great tip, thank you!

What I find hard going in a lot of older sermons I've read is the assumption that the audience uncomplicatedly believe in God, but then need God's words explained to them at a really slow pace? Which is always a bit "I GET THIS". I am more into anything that takes doubt and shame as the cloth to weave a cloak of being perfect in a personal way you're allowed to interpret yourself, which it seems I'd have to go more 20th century for?

Gravel Puzzleworth, Tuesday, 18 November 2008 13:22 (fifteen years ago) link

Take a look at this list:

I'm sure you can find many other good posts on that blog, since she's spent a lot of time studying anti-Catholic Victorian sermons (if memory serves me)
Doesn't seem she uses tags much, but might be worth looking through.

It's a wonderful blog in general, by the way.

The only sermon I've ever read was the one in "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man", I think.

Øystein, Tuesday, 18 November 2008 13:56 (fifteen years ago) link

fifteen years pass...

Great to see there is a thread on these already. Beginning to get a list of them. The mix of Philosophy (not only Christian, there is vast readng going on), rhetoric, fever pitch prose is quite heady. And ofc these texts are on Marriages, deaths, life, all the big events. I love the performative element which you don't quite get in every novel you come across.

Anyway my small list.

John Donne - I spotted a collected bunch of essays from a christian publisher so not well annotated. I quite like to delve into the Preface because I reckon there will be a tension between er, modern Christian thinking and what Donne came up with. I love the style, but only followed 30% of the time.
Antonio Vieira - Portuguese Jesuit/diplomat who was pretty fearsome on the page. OUP put out a couple of hundred pages. Pessoa loves him, which is how I heard about it.
Gerald Manley Hopkins - Just a couple of them in a Penguin paperback collated with lots of other stuff. These were the first sermons that opened me up to this particular prose form.
Jeremy Taylor - Sublunary eds put out a nice paperback of four sermons last year and he is a superb stylist and maybe not as cluttered as Donne. The intro came up with it being on par with the likes of Browne but it is tied with the decline of Christinanity in the West.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 30 April 2024 13:43 (two months ago) link

I will look at Edwards and maybe Emerson.

One thing missing is stuff which is from other religions. I am looking for the art of it, though ofc it can be in service of shitty politics so I don't know how far I want to go.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 30 April 2024 13:50 (two months ago) link

Thanks for the post. I’m interested to check out some of these

H.P, Tuesday, 30 April 2024 13:53 (two months ago) link

It's not a genre I've ever loved - they've largely sunk into reasonableness by the end of the 17th & by the 18th there's that solid grim careerist aspect to them - even the greatest of the 18th century (Swift, Sterne) are on best behaviour in their sermons.

Feels like the wilder traditions - mechanick preachers, radicals, all of that - don't really get captured much after mid-17th-century printing/religious-liberty clampdowns, or become the much plainer dissenting sermon. Like I respect someone like Price at the end of the century, but I don't particularly want to read him.

In general I prefer earlier so yup Donne and Taylor are the two exceptions I'd make - maybe Lancelot Andrewes in there too, kind of chillier. If I think of anyone else I will drop them in.

woof, Tuesday, 30 April 2024 14:33 (two months ago) link

do british schoolkids have to read anything like we American hghschoolers read "Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God?" (for historical purposes only, to explain the Great Awakening)

Are you addicted to struggling with your horse? (Boring, Maryland), Tuesday, 30 April 2024 14:34 (two months ago) link

When I went to the Luther Museum in Wittenberg they had a whole exhibit of tracts from the Reformation era of preachers of all sorts of persuasions, not just Luther and his followers. Probably a lot of stuff not translated into English, though.

This guy is intriguing:

Are you addicted to struggling with your horse? (Boring, Maryland), Tuesday, 30 April 2024 14:36 (two months ago) link

I'm glad to hear Taylor is getting reprinted - he was hard to find for a long time. Holy Dying is really spectacular, that opening… man as a "dream of a shadow of smoke" is a line that comes into my head weirdly often while just blankly staring at stuff.

(And lol while googling I see that David Tibet/Current 93 is a Jeremy Taylor fan of course)

woof, Tuesday, 30 April 2024 15:10 (two months ago) link

This is recent and academic, so not what you're looking for, but as a Kipling fan I really like this Rowan Williams sermon about his work:

Lily Dale, Tuesday, 30 April 2024 16:30 (two months ago) link

When I was young "Everything I Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten" was a popular book. I think it was a collection of sermons by a Unitarian. Kind of in that anodyne style that also characterized certain newspaper columns of the era. Honestly, sermons are works I'm pretty fond of. They remind me a little bit of essays, but written to be delivered in person. They're different from speeches to me too. A different purpose. There's a lot of stuff that I think does descend from the sermon tradition, but nothing quite like it. I'd say it's more or less a dead art form, alongside syndicated newspaper columns.

Kate (rushomancy), Tuesday, 30 April 2024 16:43 (two months ago) link

Lily - I am OK with Williams and will have a look. He did a pretty decent interview on Rilke that I happened to come across a few years ago.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 30 April 2024 17:09 (two months ago) link

The guy from Sublunary who reprinted Taylor also had a lot of time for Thomas Traherne.

Guess we could expand this thread to include spiritual writing.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 30 April 2024 17:13 (two months ago) link

i've always felt there might be interesting stuff in Bossuet, but have never known where to start

budo jeru, Tuesday, 30 April 2024 23:48 (two months ago) link

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