Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I have a dream (that sacrament meetings will sound interesting)

So yesterday was a holiday here in the United States in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. As a result, i heard a bunch of archival recordings of Dr. King on the radio, especially of his most famous speech.

Listening to that, i wondered why our church speechifying is so, well, boring. I mean, not necessarily in terms of content, but in style—even when the speaker is saying something stirring, there’s almost never any prosodic shifting going on, there’s no serious attempt to bring the congregation into the flow of the words.

And it’s not like this flat delivery is something inherent to Mormonism—if you listen to old general conference addresses, the old-school speakers (those who came of age in the nineteenth century) got into it. So apparently it used to be part of Mormon preaching—but now it’s not. So what happened? Why did we move away from interesting-sounding sermons to monotonous-sounding ones?


Heather the Mama Duk said...

Side effect of people who are not trained in public speaking delivering sermons I think. When 95% of people are pretty boring when they give their talks, everyone ends up boring because they take their cues. Here, we've gotten a few converts that used to be a little more of the "holy roller" type so occasionally we get a little more of the exciting type of speaking, but, let's face it. Most of those converts are more a shade of skin like Martin Luther King Jr. and most of the boring sit still and be silent type are more shade of skin like we are. Sometimes, just once, it would be fun, as a white lifer Mormon, to shout out Hallelujah! or Amen! when something is said that's particularly good. Those urges are pretty few and far between, though. Many of the speakers pretty much put me to sleep.

kimberlee said...

@ Heather.
I double dog dare you.