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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Absorbing the History of Preaching through Imitation

There is nice biography of poet Theodore Roethke at the Poetry Foundation. I don’t know much about him but have enjoyed many of his poems. Concerning how he learned to write, he is quoted in the link above as saying: “imitation, conscious imitation, is one of the great methods, perhaps the method of learning to write.” The biography goes on to quote Jenijoy La Belle’s summary of Roethke’s theory of what a poet is from her book The Echoing Wood of Theodore Roethke, in a way that I think we can apply to preachers. She writes that Roethke was as a “conscious imitator” and that he thought the “modern poet should move away from the Romantic concept of personal expression. ... He must, in effect, march through the history of poetry—rewrite the poems of the past—that he may come out at the end of his journey a poet who has absorbed the tradition and who thus may take one step forward and add to that tradition.” Oh, that we view preaching in such a way!