Wednesday, January 27, 2010

PowerPoint or no PowerPoint

It depends on the speaker, in my opinion.

When you can hear a speaker who is really good and keeps everyone's attention by his rhetorical skills or personality, aside from the spell-binding content,  it is a real treat.  Dr. Patrick, whom I mention sometimes, is one of those.  Everyone says it was fabulous in terms of both content and delivery when he's finished.  He loves talking, he is very bright, knowledgeable and experienced and we gladly hang on every word.  He uses not a single picture, and we don't need any.  He could talk all day and we could listen all day.

When you have someone who loves talking, BUT is not as organized or disciplined in doing so, getting sidetracked, irrelevant or repetitive, PowerPoint is a great way to keep him on the straight and narrow.

PowerPoint can be abused, as when the speaker is not a speaker but a slide reader.

If there is going to be a lot of content people are supposed to remember, a PowerPoint is nice, you can just print off notes for them.

Anyhow, PowerPoint can make things a lot more interesting and easily comprehended by adding outlines and images.

Regarding the use of images on the other hand: one pastor told me that because the power is in the word, he does not like to rely on images.  I said: " Yea, but... Jesus came in the flesh,... and he told very picturesque and creative stories."  Which, he says, is all fine, but he thinks the word should not be buried in the image overload.  I don't know what to make of that.  I read lots.  I don't need pictures.  But I really like pictures.  I have eyes.  Vision is a wonderful God-given sense.

Those are my pro's and con's on Power Point.


Bror Erickson said...

I had a professor once that would put me to sleep about the second he turned on the power point, I had another professor who was quite adept at using it.
I don't think it should be used for sermons, but I could see it helping with Bible Studies. I suppose the only real difference being the setting. I hate to see something so banal as power point projectors breaking into the sacred space of the sancturary, not to mention the stupid screen veiling the cross. Just doesn't look right, not to me, aescetically clashing.
But as for not using images to help convey god's word as in the pastor you were talking too. Well find smarter company. What is he a Zwinglian?

Brigitte said...


I won't say anything else about the pastor who said that. Maybe he'll come on and you can have a, ahem, "discussion", about it.-- Or maybe the matter can be clarified. He is definitely not Zwinglian or incapable.

I don't think he meant, don't use them at all; he just does not want to overpower with pictures. I think it is part of the reason he does not want to use PowerPoint in sermons. This is how he reasons it.

Trying to interpret him: perhaps it's like a blind person, they hear and smell better to compensate. By not seeing, maybe we hear better. And then there is the matter of not seeing and still believing, regarding which you like to point out we do see some things and believe. We don't believe entirely blindly most of the time. Sometimes we do.

So maybe that's it. We see some, we hear some but hearing has to be enough sometimes.

Bror Erickson said...

Deaf people hear by seeing.
I don't know I hesitate to introduce images in a "sermon." I hesitate to intrude upon the beauty of the Divine Service with power point. It clashes like vertical and horizontal stripes. I know some would disagree, but they are wrong.
For Bible Study, or perhaps a service of preaching, maybe there isn't as much of a problem.

Mary said...

I learn quicker by seeing or by doing. Many of us learn quicker by seeing and/or by doing. I repeat we are neither audio learners nor dim-witted. Some visual helps; key words or phrases would help to etch God's word in my brain and encourage my mind to stay focused on the sermon. We have the technology. Let's use it. Please do not cover the cross with a screen. I need to see the cross as it is my visual reminder of what God has done for me and you.

Brigitte said...

Mary, learning style has something to do with it. I think you are right.

The Power Point sermons I've been to are at Bethel. I can't say that I object in any way in which it is done there. However, I do object that the liturgy is nearly all gone and that the so-called traditional liturgical service is barely so.

So overall, I don't know what to say. Can you have a proper liturgical service and still have Power Point? Honestly, in my opinion, I don't see why not, though I know lots of people who think you can't or just dislike it.

You can just as well project a cross on the screen or fit things side by side or do something, if you want. But it seems to me people don't want. At Bethel, the crosses and the images of Christ in the hallway always strike me as rather bloodless and passionless. I've thought about going in and hanging a different picture clandestinely and see what happens. Put a real tortured Christ somewhere and then--will someone take it down?

Sorry, Bethel people. Have you thought about it. My Mormon friend has the same Christ pictures in her house as Bethel has in the hallway. Bothers me.

Sorry, Becky, if you read this, but it is not the same Christ and the pictures are generally different. (Becky, I need to call you back.)

But Power Point is really unrelated to this. Why it generally appears as a syndrome: Power Point plus no liturgy always happening together, I don't understand.

For Bror Divine Service and Power Point clash.

I don't know.

Coming from Germany, I find Divine Service and Hymnals clash. We used to know everything by heart.

I do not see how this cannot be adiophra, neither here nor there.

Bror Erickson said...

Actually the Divine Service developed using or incorporating many different visuals which is why the chancel is decorated in different paraments according to the season, and the pastor wheres funny clothes, and there used to be crucifixes, and sometimes they would incorporate other sculptures, stain glass, and there was even movement specially designed to teach, and all these things would help people who learn better with visual things, but it wasn't as tacky in that setting as a slide show.

Brigitte said...

"Tacky" is the word, then. How does one decide what's tacky?

I can't go there, myself. I don't find it tacky. Maybe it can be tacky, but it is not inherently tacky.

Bror Erickson said...

You decide something is tacky in the same way you decide something is Kitsch.