Early 2009 (Korean translation, October, 2012) saw the appearance of my Why Johnny Can't Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers (P&R Publishing), in which I attempted to argue that the movement from a typographic (book) culture to an electronic and image-based culture in the latter half of the twentieth century had very negative consequences for preaching. The change altered the sensibilities in such a manner because people do not read texts as carefully as they once did, nor do they compose as often as they once did, nor are they exposed to those (poets, especially) who are devoted to the aural properties of language. Modern Reformation was kind enough to permit me to introduce the book in an article by the same title in their Volume 18, no. 6 (Sept/Oct 2009), pp. 27-30. Several people have been kind enough to blog about the book. Among them:
Dr. R. Scott Clark, Westminster Seminary in California; The Rev. Dr. Charles Wingard, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Huntsville, AL; The Rev. Kevin DeYoung, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, MI The Reformed Forum The Rev. Benjamin Quinn at Baptist/21l David Nelson at Between the Times at Southeastern Baptist; Jeff Gray at Roots Rain; Tim Challies at Challies.com; Peter Sholl at the SolaPanel; The Rev. Dr. Sean Michael Lucas, formerly at Covenant Seminary, and now at the First Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg, MS.
Reformed Forum interviewed me about the book on March 2, Mike Horton at White Horse Inn on May 3, Chris Arnzen (Iron Sharpens Iron) on May 5, Todd Wilken of Issues, etc. on May 5, Kevin Bolling (at SermonAudio.com) on June 9, Marcus Dahl (The Pastor's Study) on November 21, Janet Mefferd (The Word 100.7) on December 14. Some of these interviews may still be available online.
The sequel: Why Johnny Can't Sing Hymns: How Pop Culture Re-Wrote the Hymnal, was released in June 2010. In this, I attempt to locate some of the cultural forces that have caused hymns to sound so foreign to this generation that they feel they need to replace them with something contemporary. I also express misgivings about this circumstance. I've already enjoyed interviews about the books with Paul Edwards, Janet Mefferd, Kevin Boling, Ingrid Schleuter at Crosstalk America, Chris Arnzen from Iron Sharpens Iron, Kevin Swanson, and Todd Wilken at Issues, Etc., and look forward to scheduled interviews with The Word at KNEO in Missouri and Neil Boron Live in Buffalo. Some of those interviews may be available on the host's websites.
The table of contents for Why Johnny Can't Sing Hymns follows:
Introduction: My Pastoral Concerns
Chapter One: Introductory Considerations
Chapter Two: Aesthetic Relativism
Chapter Three: Form and Content
Chapter Four: “Meta-message”
Chapter Five: “Sacred Music”?
Chapter Six: Three Musical Genres
Chapter Seven: Musical Questions
Chapter Eight: Contemporaneity as a Value
Chapter Nine: Song and Prayer
Chapter Ten: The Mind, Sentiment, and Sentimentality
Chapter Eleven: Ritual (Formality and Informality)
Chapter Twelve: Strategic Issues
Chapter Thirteen: Concluding Thoughts
Chapter Fourteen: Teaching Johnny Hymnody