When Sermon Brainwave came out a half dozen or so years ago, people would always ask where the name came from. And I'd offer the rather goofy answer that I spent a lot of time reading the Harry Potter books to my kids and one of my favorite British phrases (along with "trainers" for "sneakers") was "brainwave," meaning a seriously good idea. And so when I first thought about doing a weekly podcast on the lectionary texts, I thought Sermon Brainwave would capture my hope to offer a few good ideas (or at least mildly entertaining notions) about the lectionary readings for the coming week. That is, you wouldn't be getting sermon outlines or canned stories, just some thought to hopefully provoke your own seriously good ideas.
As much as I still love that title, I have to say that Robb McCoy and Eric Fistler have pretty much topped that with their incredibly fun podcast title: Pulpit Fiction. For some of you, the reference to Quentin Tarantino's 1994 cult classic Pulp Fiction is immediately and clever. For others, trust me, Robb and Eric's reference to Ezekiel 25:17 alone is priceless. Pulp Fiction, you see, follows two hit men, Jules and Vincent. And each time Jules, played by Samuel L. Jackson, is about to finish someone off, he quotes from Ezekiel 25:17:
The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.
Except...that's not how Ezekiel 25:17 reads. Rather, Ezekiel, prophesying against the Philistines, reports the Lord as saying, "I will execute great vengeance on them with wrathful punishments. Then they shall know that I am the Lord, when I lay my vengeance on them." Close...sort of. I guess this is what we mean by "creative license."
In any event - and I realize this is an incredibly long and round-about introduction - Robb and Eric's podcast title and tagline - Pulpit Fiction: For those who looked up Ezekiel 25:17 and were sorely disappointed! - give you a pretty good sense of their creativity, insight, and wit.
Each week they offer a full discussion of the Revised Common Lectionary texts and even provide a summary of their conversation on their website for those who don't have time to listen to the whole show. They also go a little deeper with one verse each week - Quickfire Scripture - that isn't necessarily the focus of the podcast to give you some options, and often feature other articles and videos that bear on this week's readings. Throughout, their commentary is fresh, helpful, insightful, and comes from two pastors practicing the craft regularly.
In addition, they feature regular interviews with theologians and authors across the church. In fact, I got to sit down with them in Denver a few weeks ago and talk podcasting and more and had a ball. If you're interested, you can catch that here.
One of the things that struck me - and I can't remember if this was during the podcast interview or afterward (I suspect afterward) - was that when they first started this endeavor, a number of preachers asked them: "What, don't you like Sermon Brainwave?" Their reply, "Of course we like Sermon Brainwave" (thanks, guys!), "but we just figured there was room for another podcast." Indeed, especially when it's a podcast this good, one I highly recommend you try out. Thanks again, guys, very much!