An onomatopoeic sermon?
This Sunday I found myself, unusually, adding to a sermon on the very morning when I preached. I knew it would be a tough one. I knew I would need to explain that just as a gold sovereign has two sides, so does the theological concept of sovereignty:
- If God is sovereign he can do the impossible
- If God is sovereign he may choose not to.
After some thought, I chose to describe this as a theological coat which is too big when first presented. Like our first blazer at school, we grow into it, with our arms creeping imperceptibly down the sleeves and our body gradually filling out the garment until it fits. All the same, there are prayers which don’t get answered and people who don’t get healed – so where’s the gain in that? Wanting to say that we grow in the moment of suffering, the following phrase suggested itself:
‘There is a refining to the essence of humanity which happens in the crucible of hurt’
Every individual word was chosen for nuance and timbre – like a cabinet-maker choosing veneers.
This is the moment which brings me to the curious title of this post. Driving along shortly after the sermon, I listened to a discussion of onomatopoeic words in comics, where the different words for liquid splashing were discussed:
- Blop ( a small droplet of liquid)
- Bloop ( bigger drop of same)
- Blawp ( drop of viscous liquid)
Once you think about it, they make perfect sense – and the images they generate in the mind are disarmingly precise. This set me thinking – if a comic-writer devotes such care to choosing the right word for a drop of liquid – how much care should a preacher take when choosing words?
I am not sure I could preach an entire sermon (*) onomatopoeically, but choosing words more carefully would certainly be good.
(*) Throop – soft cover Bible opening
Erf – preacher draws a nervous breath
Glig-glug – pouring out the liquid word of God, and hoping it is the good stuff