So Fill Our Imaginations, The Work of Play of a Year of Preaching
So Fill Our Imaginations by Mark Lloyd Taylor. A review
As an Applied Improvisation coach, I help churches and clergy become more open, adaptive, and collaborative. In a word, more playful. For this reason, I was drawn to So Fill Our Imaginations: The Work of Play and Year of Preaching by Mark Lloyd Taylor. I’ve read books on how to have playful brainstorming sessions and even playful liturgy, but this was the first book I’ve seen about playfulness in preaching.
Mark Lloyd Taylor is a Professor Emeritus at Seattle University and a lay preacher at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Seattle. His book is a diary of his preaching a year at St. Paul’s. He provides twelve sermons along with the context in which they were preached and his thought process in preparing the sermons.
In addition to being a lay preacher, Taylor is a Godly Play instructor. Godly Play is a Montessori style curriculum developed by John Berryman. Godly Play practice teaches children to listen for God and to make authentic and creative responses to God’s call in their lives. These responses are called their work. It is this idea of work and play being interchangeable that informs Taylor’s homiletics.
In essence, Taylor encourages preachers to take apart the scripture passage, move it around, look at it from different angles and play with it. “Thereby, for me, work and play are taken out of their normal (adult) contexts and radically transgressed, reversed, redefined. Deconstructed and reconstructed. Work and play, play and work: another binary queered!” Play is work and work is play. Taylor’s approach is also very improvisational. He takes the givens, the lectionary, prayer book, and Anglican ethos, and then improvises on them to find something new in the moment.
This is a book for preachers. You won’t find a step-by-step method of sermon preparation. What you will find is a way to look at things differently. Taylor encourages the use of the “wonder” questions of Godly Play. “I wonder what this person was thinking?” “I wonder what it was like to be there when this story happened?” One of the more intriguing ideas is that of getting out of the binary way of thinking. Or as Richard Rohr says, duality. He suggests you “queer” up your theology. He means in the radical, out of the ordinary sense and not the sexual sense. If nothing else, this book will help the preacher to think outside the box and play a bit more.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.