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Mass trauma is an unavoidable reality in the United States. Trauma from violence, natural disasters, and disease has become all too familiar in the American experience, inevitably raising questions about where God is to be found in the midst of such tragedies. In every case, the aftermath leaves communities’ sense of well-being broken and capacity to imagine a way forward thwarted.​

Though language often fails us in the midst of trauma, preachers and religious leaders are nevertheless called on to offer a Word. ​Fractured Ground helps pastors craft sermons that fully plumb the disorienting suffering created by events of mass trauma, while still offering an authentic word of hope.​

Kimberly Wagner provides both incisive explanations of what trauma is and especially how it affects communities of faith, along with practical guidance for crafting sermons that reflect the brokenness of the traumatic situation and the persistent love of God that binds the broken together. Drawing on the burgeoning field of trauma studies, eschatological theologies of hope, scriptural wisdom, and liturgies of lament, Wagner helps preachers imagine what it might mean to preach a narratively fractured sermon in the aftermath of a communal traumatic event, ultimately affirming that no amount of brokenness is beyond the presence and promise of God.


Precarious Preaching

 To stand in a pulpit or at a protest or even in the public square and declare, “I have a word from the Lord” is a daunting and audacious act. But this is—even implicitly—what preachers do every time they stand before a group of people and offer proclamation. However, this raises questions of authority, particularly as we live in a time when the institutional center is not holding, if it ever did for many who dare to proclaim from the margins. This book assesses the current preaching landscape, considering the ways centralized, traditional authorities never held for many marginalized voices  and how the institutional center may no longer be holding for those who have long found their voices celebrated.

Precarious Preaching invites a reevaluation of the preaching landscape and offers a reimagined and, perhaps, subversive preaching authority that cultivates spaces from which diverse voices may proclaim Good News.

Gratefully, we are not left without guides. Looking to historical women and femmes who were often not granted authority to preach by institutions, we can consider some alternative forms of authority. These figures offer us both blessings and warnings for how we might engage different forms of authority and even employ them in combination. Considering their suggestions and warnings, we can then imagine new ways forward that allow us to play with authorities in creative and contextual combinations, in order to find our own voice in the pulpit and cultivate proclamation space for the voices of others.

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