“The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?” (Ecclesiastes 6:11) “The voice already carries too far as it is. If Bell had invented a muffler or a gag he would have done a real service.” Mark Twain made these comments regarding Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone even as he had two of them installed in his home. (Destiny of the Republic, p.68)
After reading these two thoughts something occurred to me. I have never had to eat words I didn’t say. Still, I am overweight with the words I have eaten.
As a preacher, I bow to the Ecclesiastes text and apologize for long sermons with lost meanings. I am convinced in most cases, the more articulate the message, the more concise the sermon. Far too often, in the words of a teaching professor, I have went backpacking on the dark side of Nahum trying to be brilliant and original. "Not everyone wants to go camping Brian,” he said. “Make your point and go home.”
A long sermon isn’t always bad, but the longer the sermon goes the better it needs to be. Some of mine would have had to generate the power of the Gettysburg Address to have passed this test, and… well, none did. (No one needs to say “amen” to that, and yes I am aware of how long the Gettysburg Address was.)
As a human with a proclivity to express my opinion, I wholeheartedly agree with Twain. But like Twain, I install the inventions that violate the principle. I use Facebook, blog, and will probably ‘tweet’ before it’s all over. May God continue to remind me of the wisdom of the muffler and the profit of brevity. That’s all I’ve got to say about that…for now.