In supplying video reflections to congregations, David noted an appreciation, particularly from those who view them outside of the context of a formal church gathering, when he also provided a recording of readings and prayers. Some churches made use of these in their online worship too.
This has the advantage of presenting legitimate variants of readings, such as might be found in a different version of the Bible from the ‘pew Bible’ of a local church, which is unlikely to take much account at all of the green thread that genuinely runs through scripture.
Every ‘Bible’ has a slant and agenda. This does not reduce their value, but an awareness of the slant makes reading more of a dialogue.
It also allows us to highlight some things which might be respected by tradition, but otherwise obscure: ‘Son of Man’ over and above the exclusiveness of the language’ is here unpacked as ‘heir of humanity’ – who a few shocking words later is killed by the very same humanity whose heir Jesus is.
In reading aloud, we can put these things side by side. David has kept these things very much to a minimum, though. You might also note that the final clip uses just one, rather than two ‘paragraphs’ from the prescribed reading, as there is quite enough to go on in those three verses!
An indispensable starting point, then, is to let the Bible speak when we read it, in order to find what ’s actually there.
It’s also undeniable that these texts were made to be read aloud: almost no one even read “in their head” until after printing made books widespread. ‘Pick up and read’ ( “Tolle, lege”) said the divinely inspired children’s song to St Augustine, and reading aloud always involves interpreting.
We also interpret how we present ourselves, depending on the context : Jo’s “LinkedIn” entry is “playwright, translator, teacher, poet and performer” David’s is “collaborative digital preacher, blogger, photographer, hymn writer.”
The vocal nuances and body language chosen by Jo in these clips are as dense and complex as any academic essay. What, compared to silent reading we lose on speed – David’s own clips are unlikely to go beyond 100 words per minute – we gain on the richness and openness to question of the presentation. Camera placement and editing also add. They are not at all neutral. They cannot be so.
David also left in a fragment of our conversation after the violence of the language in clip 4!
The fondness of churches for the Revised Common Lectionary has constrained us to use it as the source material for our Season of Creation/CreationTime/Creationtide material. This at first seemed a shackle, but it obliges us to look more deeply into scripture than the obvious places, like Genesis 1 or Revelation 22. There’s a thousand-odd pages in between!
“Gospel Earthed” is an extremely modest project, which presents selected versions of the Gospel readings for the five weeks of Creation Time, combining the preparatory intent of David Coleman as ‘preacher’ with performer Jo Clifford as ‘reader’.
We hope you enjoy it. Because that too, is important, in our reception of scripture. We did!