Of Soliloquies and Speechifying

Daily Post: Recite


What do actors, lawyers and preachers all have in common?  Each of these vocations are pursued by men and women who seem to have a knack for memorizing large amounts of information.  When they speak, the words seem to come to them on cue as they recite their thoughts back to their audience.  Clearly not all actors, lawyers, or preachers are the same; each one is unique in their skills and presentations.  The men and women who truly excel in these chosen fields are those who make it seem their words are original work of their own minds, the thoughts and ideas presented coming in the moments they are spoken.  The truly charismatic actor, lawyer, preacher will have great followings and more often than not, great egos to go with it.  Just being able to recite something however, is not what makes one charismatic.

The unteachable quality of the great orators over time is the ability to own your material.  The speaker who stands in front of a courtroom, stage, or congregation who drones on endlessly citing chapter and verse of their material, may never connect with a single person in their audience.  If the material seems dry and unrehearsed, if the presentation is cold and without feeling, if the speaker stands like a stone statue attempting to elicit some emotion from their own emotionless voice patterns, well…

The theaters of the ancient Roman world served as meeting places between community leaders and the population at large, and as a site for cultural presentations.  Those who performed there expected and so valued the prized reactions of the crowd that a “silent audience” was a curse wished upon their enemies. [Performers and Partisans at Aphrodisias in the Roman and Late Roman Periods, London, 1993]

Each of you, reading this article now, may not be actors, lawyers, or preachers, but you must know that others may see you this light.  Each of you has a “hot button.”  We all have this “thing” which motivates us to speak out, or act out, our beliefs.  Hopping up on our soap box, we gesture, we elevate our voice so as to be heard over the din of the crowd.  All around the world people have opinions about things that are important to them, where they react in moments of inspiration with what can only be described as soliloquies or speeches.

Long ago Paul stood before the great king Agrippa and spoke passionately about the reality of Jesus as Savior, Paul’s own conversion to Christianity, and to Paul’s right to preach freely in the Roman world, since Paul was a Roman citizen.  This is a great story and worth your time to read it. (Acts 26)  This grand soliloquy from Paul was concluded when Agrippa replied to Paul:

Acts 26:28
“In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.”

Actually, Agrippa was saying he had heard enough.  He was cutting Paul off.  King Agrippa, the governor Festus along with his wife Bernice, walked away from Paul, talking about what they had just heard.  They were convinced Paul had done nothing wrong, or deserving of prison or death, but neither were they swayed to believe as Paul did about Jesus of Nazareth.  Agrippa concludes with, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.” (vs.32)

A few years later Paul was executed by Rome, after planting churches all over what is now Europe and the Middle East.  Paul’s testimony before the world, Agrippa, and ultimately Caesar, was more than just a recitation of facts, more than just a mesmerizing soliloquy, more than just a sermon.  Paul spoke of a life transformed by the living power of Jesus Christ.

If we want to make a difference in our world today, then our testimony has to be more than just words we say.  Our lives must be the words.

We must own it, not just recite.

If you liked this blog post feel free to share it with your friends. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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