One of my favourite professors at Grove City College was Dr. T. David Gordon, a diminutive, fiery Professor of Religion who loved a good cigar and vacations in New England. His classes always filled up instantly, so I only had the privilege of taking him once, for Media Ecology. Though he was a religion professor, he was passionate about how technology shapes our lives, and spurred my passion for the subject. My Dad also has fond memories of him from their days together at Westminster Theological Seminary.
That said, I was immensely excited to find out he released a new book in February, though I’m a little embarrassed that it flew under my radar. It has been bumped to the top of my to-buy book list, and I can’t wait to read it.
The book is Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers (only $5.99 at WTS Books!). Kevin DeYoung (Why We’re Not Emergent) has done a two-part review on it, with part one linked here, and part two is linked here. Apparently, Dr. Gordon wrote this short book while undergoing cancer treatments in 2004, so according to DeYoung, “this book was the last thing he wanted to say to the world if he only had one last thing to say. That’s how passionate he is about sounding the alarm on the woes of contemporary preaching. Thankfully, his cancer is in remission now. But he remains unapologetic in his critique.”
Knowing Dr. Gordon, and reading DeYoung’s review, I’m assuming that Dr. Gordon’s critique will be spot on in some (most) parts, polemic and off-putting in others, but passionate throughout. He’ll make readers uncomfortable, introspective, and possibly even angry. But he says what needs to be heard by so many, and what so few are saying. That’s one reason why I love him.
Here’s an excerpt via DeYoung to whet your whistle (and a preview here, courtesy of WTS):
Ministers [in our culture] are not at home with what is significant; ministers whose attention span is less than that of a four-year-old in the 1940s, who race around like the rest of us, constantly distracted by sounds and images of inconsequential trivialities, and out of touch with what is weighty. It is not surprising that their sermons, and the alleged worship that surrounds them, are often trifling, thoughtless, uninspiring, and mundane…The great seriousness of the reality of being human, the dreadful seriousness of the coming judgment of God, the sheer insignificance of the present in light of eternity–realities that once were the subtext of virtually every sermon–have now disappeared, and have been replaced by one triviality after another. (p. 58-59)