OK, maybe I've had my head in the sand, but I just don't get the responses to this post at 22 Words.
Abraham Piper asks with his brilliantly conceived brevity: "I hear one sermon a week (a couple times for my job). Others listen to multiple sermons a day. How about you?"
Here are some of the responses:
"At least 1 or 2 sometimes more depending on my work situation."
"I listen to your dad a couple of times a week."
"I'd say two a week"
"Usually two or three a week"
"About 3 per week"
"1 at church, then average of 1-2 a week.
"I'll listen to three or four over the course of the week."
"4 or 5 a week."
"I listen to a handful a week - depends on how much driving I have to do. I once had a 14 hour day, mostly driving and listened to about a dozen sermons during that time."
"On a weekly basis I listen to 4 different pastors if not 5."
Did he just say 4 different pastors if not five?
"A message from desiringGod.org almost every day."
"Sermon listening became an almost daily activity for me."
"Usually about 6 or 7 a week."
"A sermon a day"
A sermon a day? What?
"Until school started ... about 1 sermon a day."
"I usually listen to one a day ... sometimes more ... I have a really boring job."
"At my peak ... I was rockin' your dad about twice a day"
"I usually listen to two sermons/day."
"Maybe 15-20 in a week"
"I average about 3 sermons a day."
"I've tried to limit myself to ... 3 or 4 a day."
"I used to listen to 4-5 a day."
"I used to listen to like 9 a day"
There are people out there listening to three sermons a day?
When did this happen? What's going on here?
Reading that post, I felt like I had stepped out my back door into some post-apocalyptic Christian-consumerist version of a Flannery O'Connor short story.
How widespread is this?
Is everyone doing this? Listening to 'podcasts' of sermons by pastors who are not their pastors? Am I the only one who doesn't do this?
What does this mean? What do you even do with six sermons a week?
Should I be doing this? What would I give up? How would it change me?
I'm very disturbed.
Now, this is a cultural critique, not a critique of any of these individuals. Obviously this sermon-listening-thing is widespread. Nor is it a matter - strictly speaking - of virtue and vice. But somebody help me think this through, because I'm filtering the whole thing through Fahrenheit 451. Over 50 years ago Bradbury eerily imagined this world of ear buds and iPods, of interactive television shows that served as a substitute for real relationships, of isolation, image, and the loss of organic culture to artifice.
How is this sermon listening (mostly on iPods, I gather) not a Christianized version of everything that has become technocratic and inhuman in our world? Everything that Bradbury saw coming? What is lost in opportunity costs? What is lost to the local church or parish in the rise of the homiletic rock-star? To ceremony and liturgy as the context for the sermon?
What about silence? Listening? Reading? Meditation? Walks in the park? Writing? Poetry? The cultivation of the self in the world?
What about going into the woods to live deliberately?
Or - real possibility - I'm freaking out about nothing.
It's no big deal.
It doesn't matter.
It could be worse.
Get over it.
I would love to hear what other people think. Maybe I'm just seeing this wrongly.
(And I'm not secretly judging you if you all listen to 15 sermons a week and I just didn't know about it. I just don't get it. Maybe I need to be let in on the secret.)