As someone who has more than my share of odd ideas for things that could be done that I immodestly consider modest proposals , I feel it necessary sometimes to comment that my thinking is not necessarily very original even it might be very odd. I tend to be inspired by ideas in what I read or listen to mostly, and my thinking tends to spring from what are (to me) fairly obvious implications from something else I have read or seen. I see someone writing about something, and wonder, if they can do it, why can’t we? I give this explanation because this is precisely the reason for today’s modest proposal. Whenever one group of people can do something that would likely be appreciated and enjoyed in my own denominational culture, it would make sense that the success could be imitated if there was the will and desire to do so.
Let us get down to specifics. Earlier this week I read two volumes of Seventh-Day Adventist sermons, each of them about 200 pages in length , and fairly quickly I had a sense of great envy, in that many of these sermon speakers, people no more knowledgeable about the Bible or skilled in constructing a message than I am or that many of the ministers I am familiar with are, were credited with numerous books as well as the placement of their sermon messages in numerous volumes of collections. The obvious question when one is faced with such a situation is: why is that not more common among us? If someone with the modest opportunites I have had to speak has enough messages given already at this stage to fill an entire volume of messages of close to two hundred pages in length, certainly most of the deacons and elders among us have far more prolific amounts of messages that could be turned into books and offered to a reasonable sized target audience of readers. Why has this not been done to any degree that I have seen, aside from a collection of the early public domain writings of Mr. Armstrong ?
I can think of some immediate objections that people could make when it came to making books. After all, creating books is a lot of work. Although many speakers likely have detailed notes of their own messages that give a clear picture of what they intended to say minus any random digressions, those works would have to be edited and compiled with a certain amount of book design by someone, and this is a relatively substantial amount of labor. If messages were to be divided by speaker or by theme, this would require some additional labor as well. Another concern is that printing is expensive and the Church of God (unlike the Seventh-Day Adventists) has a strong tradition of not offering works for sale, which has markedly reduced the supply of writings from Church of God writers. While some of us who are writers believe firmly that the laborer is worthy of his hire, others view writings related to biblical teachings as being things that are freely received and therefore freely given. These would appear to be the biggest objections to having more volumes of material written by Church of God figures.
How are these objections to be overcome? For one, should the Church of God community wish to encourage among its leadership a stronger literary or intellectual bent, then the writing and general collecting of one’s writings could be viewed as a professional duty. It makes sense that the desire to be seen as a spiritual authority would be greatly helped by one having acquired a reputation as an authority on the scriptures as a result of having one’s thinking and writing about the Bible gain respect with one’s audience. While there would still need to be some other work done, the Church of God has some solid talent when it comes to editing and book design. Concerning the problem of not wishing to make a merchandise of God’s word, such books could be presented as free e-book downloads, which will reduce the expenditures considerably while still allowing those writers to gain recognition for their scriptural insight, and the higher reputation and influence that comes from having one’s writings enjoyed and appreciated by a wider audience. This is especially true in that many people can read a sermon message far quicker than they can listen to such a message being presented.
It does not appear that there are any difficulties that cannot be overcome in making a more literate culture out of the Church of God by turning insightful and worthwhile messages of split sermon or sermon length (or even sermonette length) into a dramatic expansion of the writings of the Church of God in such a way that could serve to reach an audience that might prefer to read than to listen and that might serve to give a certain degree of intellectual heft to those thoughtful speakers who deserve the respect and honor of having their efforts recorded in books for the literate Church of God culture that has proven itself to be greatly appreciative of good Bible-based literature. All that is needed is the commitment and the development of the infrastructure to make this happen.
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