This (at least based on the description) is not a book about preaching, per se, but about what some have called "the problem of evil." Questions of why tragedies befall us and why evil persists in the world come up often in my work with young people and this question has often featured in my own preaching. More recently, I have had many occasions to wrestle with such questions in my work as a chaplain intern at a hospital in Raleigh where I live. Suffice it to say, I am eager to read and wrestle with what Long has to say.
Here's an excerpt (stolen from Jason Goroncy):
‘Sometimes people assume that preaching works this way: a preacher prepares a sermon during the week, finishes it at some point – maybe Friday afternoon or Saturday night – and then gets up and preaches the finished product in worship on Sunday. This may be the way it appears on the surface, but experienced preachers know better: sermons are never actually finished. There are always loose ends, questions that could have been pursued in more depth, stones left unturned, intriguing aspects of the biblical text unexamined, thoughts not quite fully baked, an untidiness at the heart of things. At some point, though, preachers have to take what they have, stand up, and speak. Preachers do not preach because the sermon is finished; they preach because it is Sunday. The time has come.
That sermons are never finished is actually a good thing. Sermons get presented in incomplete form not because of procrastination or negligence – not most of the time, anyway – but because preaching mirrors the character of faithful theology and of the Christian life itself.The young people with whom I serve and those whom I've encountered in homes and hospital rooms often ask questions like, "If God is good then why are people so bad" or "If God loves me then why doesn't he answer me when I pray." Often compassionate listening is all I can muster because I have no answers. The same is true of preaching. We cannot possible answer - once and for all - the most pressing questions of our time but we can search the Scriptures, pray humbly for guidance, and then speak with the fervent hope that God's voice will be heard through or, rather, in spite of our own voice. Our theology is always "on the way" and our answers are always incomplete. To paraphrase the apostle Paul, one day completeness will come. For now, however, Sunday is coming and we must listen, reflect, and then speak.
I encourage you to purchase a copy of What Shall We Say at your local bookshop. But if you must buy it online, try purchasing it from Powells or Better World Books.