Otis Moss III on "Homiletical DJs"
Otis Moss III's dynamic and imaginative lecture this afternoon at PRUMC encouraged preachers to dare to be "Homiletical DJs in a Post-Christian World." He suggested several ways preachers can learn from what makes a DJ great.
DJs mix music that's already produced to develop their own creation; they create something new from something old. DJs need to have an ear for all different kinds of sounds and music, and, Moss said, "A preacher needs to have an ear for sound, story, and sacred imagination. Our ears must be tuned to new sounds." We can explore fresh and creative ways of preaching the gospel, using sounds and stories from our histories, traditions, and the present day.
Moss also stressed the need -- the necessity -- of knowing traditions outside of our own denomination. He noted that great DJs appreciate a variety of traditions and are always listening for sounds from around the world and across cultures to learn from and to incorporate in their mixes. "Preachers have become so clustered in their own denominations, that we can't appreciate those outside our own," he said. We need to hear people outside our tradition, because powerful things happen when we hear something different than we're accustomed to hearing.
Every great DJ can also improvise. This doesn't mean creating a new mix with no prior experience. "Improvisation is always based on preparation," Moss said. A DJ becomes so steeped in music and in knowledge of many styles, that he or she can, when the moment calls for it, improvise a mix on the spot. For preaching, this means not memorizing sermons, but internalizing them. Knowing them so well and knowing different angles, that, when the moment calls for it, improvisation can happen powerfully and authentically.
Lastly, Moss asserted that great DJs challenge the status quo, like bringing music types together that people say can't possibly blend. DJs are mixing and remixing sounds and music all the time. Preachers can remix as well, and it even has a biblical precedent. Jesus takes different Hebrew Scriptures and remixes them in his time. Paul remixes what Jesus has taught. For the sake of the church, Moss concluded, "We need some people who are willing to remix the gospel."