Edited By Zachary Guiliano and Cameron Partridge
4. Patristic Allegorical Preaching as a Mimetic Technology: An Exploration and Proposal
Couldn’t everyone’s life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object, but not our own life?
I RECENTLY had the pleasure of visiting the Frauenkirche, the cathedral of the Catholic Diocese of Munich and Freiburg. Like many visitors, I shuffled somewhat distractedly through the informational materials in the cathedral, one of which was an introductory pamphlet on Catholic life. My distraction dissipated when my eye was drawn to the title of the first section: Der Mann hat Stil (“The man has style”). We use the phrase, the pamphlet explained, to describe someone we admire, who possesses a certain elegance or a striking character of speech or intelligence. Someone with style is immediately recognizable, and thus should all Catholic Christians be. At the time, I found this approach both uncommon and intriguing, albeit slightly desperate for cultural relevance. I bring it up here to raise some themes to which I will return: style, admiration, and form. The comparison of the Christian life with aesthetic or personal beauty is often uncommon in contemporary Christian reflection and preaching, despite its ubiquity in earlier Christian discourse, as I will argue in this chapter. When is the last time a sermon exhorted you to make your life a work of art, especially with regard to your ethical character?
This essay also proceeds in a certain context and with some very important assumptions in...
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