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"I like the silent, church before the service begins better than any preaching"

I have, indeed, nothing at all against the idea of preaching. Look at the countless volumes of commentary on Shakespeare and the major poets. Look at T.S. Eliot's footnotes on the learning of T.S. Eliot. Look at the acreage of newsprint consumed by analysis, counter-analysis, rebuttal, confusion and re-assertion of transient remarks by ephemeral politicians. When people believe it important that God has spoken to us, it's gloriously reasonable they should spend time encouraging us to think about what he has said.

As a human activity, preaching is of course variable. I've lived in places where the parish priest's chief gift was to end every single paragraph with a ringing conclusion, in others where a constant mist of fine illogic meant there never were any conclusions. Not that erudition is any guarantee of a good sermon, mind; how well I remember the time (fifteen or more years ago now) when the preacher at a Benedictine abbey in London exhorted his average suburban congregation always to remember that "God is a necessary, not a contingent Being."

On the other hand, I have also been lucky enough to hear sermons which linger more effectively: