The Metaphors We Preach By: Preaching as Graffiti

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Stuart McLeod Blythe


This article describes and discusses preaching as graffiti. That is, it is an article about the metaphors used for preaching and the potential of novel metaphors. One of the ways in which people conceptualise and describe preaching is through metaphors. These are the metaphors ‘we preach by’. Some metaphors are conventional. They express the familiar but do not communicate all that there is say about the nature of preaching. Other metaphors are novel metaphors. These metaphors bring fresh perspectives to the practice of preaching. This can be seen through the novel metaphor of preaching as graffiti. It is a metaphor that associates preaching with graffiti through their shared performative nature. It also resonates theologically with the metaphorical use of the language of ‘writing’ in the Scriptures to describe the behaviour-changing influence of God’s Word on people’s lives. Furthermore, it is a metaphor that carries inferences that highlight features of preaching that are sometimes hidden or downplayed in other more conventional metaphors. These features include the artistic, transgressive, the interruptive, and the ephemeral nature of preaching as it contends with other, sometimes unrecognised, words spoken into people’s lives.

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Author Biography

Stuart McLeod Blythe

Stuart McLeod Blythe is the John Gladstone Professor of Preaching and Worship at Acadia Divinity College, Nova Scotia Canada and previously the Rector at the IBTS Centre in Amsterdam.