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Hearing the Sermon: Relationship, Content, Feeling (Channels of Listening) [Paperback]

By Ronald J. Allen (Author)
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Item Number 136299  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   164
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.97" Width: 6.03" Height: 0.44"
Weight:   0.56 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2004
Publisher   Chalice Press
ISBN  0827205015  
EAN  9780827205017  

Availability  0 units.

Channels Of Listening - Full Series Preview
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  Make The Word Come Alive: Lessons From Laity (Channels of Listening)   $ 13.59   In Stock  
  Listening to Listeners: Homiletical Case Studies (Channels of Listening)   $ 22.94   In Stock  

Item Description...
Hearing the Sermon is a total revolution in the "how-to's" of preaching. It is the result of an extensive study that made those who listen to sermons the teachers of effective preaching. Using Aristotelian categories of rhetoric as a basis for analyzing the effectiveness of the sermon -- the audience's perception of the of the preacher (ethos), the audience's perception that the message of the speech is true (logos), and the audience's response to the feelings and identifications generated in connection with the sermon (pathos). Allen explores the workings and influences the three factors have on listeners. He shows preachers how to incorporate material into their sermons that will minimize resistance and maximizing the possibility that listeners may hear and assimilate the sermon as the preacher intended for it to be heard. Allen concludes with an illustrative sermon on Luke with comments that show how the theories of ethos, pathos, logos fit within the sermon text.

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More About Ronald J. Allen

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Ronald J. Allen is Nettie Sweeney and Hugh Th. Miller Professor of Preaching and New Testament at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis. He is author of many books, including Patterns of Preaching and Interpreting the Gospel, and coauthor of One Gospel, Many Ears and Listening to Listeners, all from Chalice Press.

Ronald J. Allen currently resides in the state of Indiana. Ronald J. Allen was born in 1949.

Ronald J. Allen has published or released items in the following series...
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Hearing more clearly...  Nov 16, 2004
'Hearing the Sermon: Relationship/Content/Feeling' is the latest book by Ronald J. Allen, professor of preaching and New Testament at my seminary. This book is also part of a four-part series on developing an understanding about how people listen to and respond to sermons and homilies. Supported by the Lilly Endowment, this project has involved many scholars at my seminary and elsewhere. The first volume, 'Listening to Listeners', was published a several months ago.

I share the experience Allen uses in his introduction, of parishioners filing out the back of the chapel, shaking my hand and giving me a one or two word summary of their impressions of the sermon or service - 'Good job.' 'Nice sermon.' 'Good message.' Others develop a little more, but rarely more than a sentence or two. The intriguing thing is when parishioners in the same service here such radically different things. Allen develops a three-part structure, filters as it were, through which listeners hear the sermon. Rather like knobs on a sound mixing console (there is even a graphic illustrating such a device), the channels of ethos, logos and pathos act together (sometimes in concert, sometimes against each other) provide the flow through which sermons reach the listener.

For a quick definition, 'ethos is the perception of the character of (and relationship with) the preacher; logos refers to the content of the sermon and how the preacher develops it; pathos bespeaks feelings generated by the sermon and how they orient (or disorient) the listener toward the sermon.' These are the three ideas incorporated in the subtitle of the text.

In the first chapter, Allen describes the study process as well as initial definitions of ethos, logos and pathos. A total of 263 persons in 28 congregations were part of the sample group, who were interviewed by the team of scholars. (The questionnaire is provided in Appendix A, and tabular data with snapshot information is provided in Appendices B and C.) The group participated under the conditions of anonymity, but some data (gender, race, age, etc.) is used when apropos to the observations. One of the interesting observations is that most listeners hear through one primary channel - while all three channels are present, there is always a primary mode for the listener. Listeners would the process the information for the other channels through the primary one - if a listener tended toward ethos, then responses to questions about the sermons even directed toward logos or pathos would be cast in light of ethos.

The study charts the three elements of ethos, logos and pathos on a grid that includes the fourth element of embodiment, the actual physical aspects and setting of the preacher. In the study, the only consistency across the three primary distinctions was that of embodiment, and it in some ways is a common-sensical observation - people like to see the preacher, hear the preacher clearly, have the preacher use varying tones of voice (not monotone), etc.

In terms of ethos, the relationship is important for many listeners. Listeners like to feel they have a positive relationship with the preacher, and the language and context is the same. For those who tend toward ethos, the integrity of the preacher is important, and whether or not the preacher lives the ideals and values she or he is preaching from the pulpit. People who listen with the ethos idea often like personal experiences of the preacher to be incorporated, particularly the preacher's personal relationship with God.

In logos settings, people are looking for meaning, which for them comes primarily through information and ideas presented in the sermons. Preaching here is seen as a teaching tool, and church is in some ways an educational event. People are looking for information to help shape ideas, and new ideas to help shape living. They like orderly progression of sermons, rhetorical devices such as comparison and contrast, and well-prepared preachers. Certainly for this group, the message is more important than the messenger, and there is a certain level of mistrust of feeling (pathos).

In the pathos setting, feeling is primary, and far from distrusting it, listeners here are more concerned with how a sermon makes them feel. Information, ideas, or the person of the preacher take second place (or lower) to the emotive power of the sermon. This is not to say that people want to be uplifted and made happy exclusively - as Allen writes, 'emotional discomfort [can be an] occasion for becoming more faithful.'

In the final chapters, Allen looks at all three elements together in one sermon. Using a sample sermon based on the text of Luke 3: 7-18 (a John the Baptist passage from Advent), Allen provides a brief exegesis and ideas for appealing to each of the three types of listeners. The one disadvantage of the sermon text (and this is a structural problem with all texts of sermons) is that it is disembodied - there is no preacher preaching, there are no vocal changes, physical gestures, facial expressions or other elements that can turn a good, written sermon into a powerful message.

Allen's epilogue makes the good point, directly from the words of the listeners in the study, that there is no perfect guarantee that any particular sermon will reach people in the intended way, and that this is not always due to the preacher. Congregation members have good days and bad days, and their receptiveness changes from time to time; congregation members also often realise that the 'one-size-fits-all' kind of sermon is necessary from the preacher's side, but the fit might be irregular for some, if not many of the congregation.

Allen's books are worthwhile for preachers and for listeners - while this is the kind of book that preachers will find of benefit, it would also be a good read for those who do not preach, to enable them to be better listeners. Allen's writing style is direct and clear, and speaks to a variety of audiences well.

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