dmin: the abstract

[Various people have expressed interest in my DMin project, The Role of Intrigue in the Communication with Sceptics, which jumped its final hurdle earlier this week. So I have decided to post three little pieces: (a) the opening page, or abstract; (b) the final page, a postscript; (c) the story of the project, as it has evolved over many, many years. Hope you find it interesting.]

"The preaching of the Bible is located at the centre of Christian communication. While preaching is to be honoured, increasing numbers of people in the Western world resist being drawn into the orbit of its influence. There is a rising tide of scepticism, particularly among the young. This project identifies perceptions and questions of sceptics as they face the church. It then locates the sceptic within the postmodern turn and traces its underlying presuppositions. It argues for a communication with sceptics that is distinguished by its capacity to intrigue them, softening and opening them, and nudging them towards the way of Jesus.
It is argued that a model of a communication which intrigues is found in the parable. The history of parable interpretation over one hundred and fifty years is traced through five seminal descriptions. From these, nine distinct features of the parable are drawn, each of which contributes to the parables’ capacity to intrigue. The intention is neither to find a fresh way of preaching the parables of Jesus, nor even to replicate his message [... although that is still a critical thing to be doing at another time]. The focus is on the medium of the parable form and the mechanism by which it intrigues.
The focus then shifts to the question of whether there is a dynamic equivalent to this parable located in the contemporary and public world of the sceptic, that might be employed in order to communicate with them. The world of advertising in general is examined, and the billboard more specifically. An equivalence between the nine distinctive features of the parable and Mario Pricken’s analysis of the communication strategy of the billboard is established. The case for this equivalence is illustrated and deepened through the evaluation of three contemporary examples of billboards. [NB: Just as easily, I could have focused on political cartoons as an equivalence with them can also be demonstrated].
Church billboards tend to be a collection of the cliché and the strident. This project envisions a series of intriguing billboards brought together by a team within a local church, and provoking discussion among sceptics in the wider community. Guidelines are given on how to commence with such an initiative. 
Throughout the thesis care is taken to maintain a modest set of claims. The focus is on a mere nudge, albeit one that may open the way for a journey towards Christ. And while such a modesty characterizes the thesis, the implications are significant, inviting a re-examination of the way preaching and communication is understood and practised." 

nice chatting 


Dale said…
As one who engages with sceptics regularly (and who probably could benefit from a more parabolic approach!), I LOVE the sound of this.

Don't know if you've seen it before, but I think Stephen Colbert does this quite well at the end of this clip!

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