Page:Psychology and preaching.djvu/142
124 PSYCHOLOGY AND PREACHING
the reason why the actor at times does not feel adequately the emotion which he portrays. He may give by the use of voice and gesture only the rough draft, so to speak, of the situation or action which he represents, with little of the internal physical accompaniments of the emotion and so with little consciousness of the corresponding feeling-tones. It is possible thus to awaken in the spectator, whose imag ination completes the scene, a more intense feeling-tone than he himself has. As a rule, however, it is certain that the actor or orator will arouse no more feeling in an audience than he experiences. If his own imagination does not ade quately realize the scene, his sketchy portrayal of it will hardly be accurate enough to stimulate the imagination of the hearer to realize it with sufficient vividness. And if his own soul is stirred he will communicate emotion as well as induce it through the activity of the hearer s imagination.
But it is better for the orator not to be too realistic in dramatic action. He is not an actor. Opinions will prob ably differ, but it is the author s conviction that the preacher should not aim at producing the illusion of actuality in the portrayal of scenes and actions. The attempt is likely to prove dismally abortive ; for he is not trained for it and has not, as the actor has, the scenery of the stage which is intended to aid in producing the illusion. Moreover, he is normally and usually aiming not simply at high emotional effects, but at immediate action or decision ; and the drama- tism which is so realistic as to produce the illusion of ac tuality will probably stir an emotion of too high an inten sity to lead to thoroughly rational determination and this the preacher should avoid. And yet in this respect most preaching errs by deficiency rather than by excess. The average preacher is sadly lacking in dramatic power. How many sermons, otherwise good, are wanting in power be cause the preacher utterly fails to make men, incidents, situations embodying the truths he is seeking to impress, live before his hearers ! Thrilling actions and events are re lated without appropriate and perhaps with quite inap-