Can We Be Too Dramatic?
Opinions run from one side of the pole to the other on this
one, and often from credible people in the church.
While some church leaders caution lectors about relying on
performance techniques to make the word of God come
alive, lectors with any professional acting or speaking
experience can find the "keep it straight and flat" approach
annoying, because it marginalizes their skills.
But what if the respectful use of these skills can bring the
word of God to life, captivate its listeners and make them
feel as if there's nothing but the content of the reading at hand?
The best actors never look like they're acting because they've studied the story and internalized the attributes and emotions of its characters enough to "become" them. And when they read the word of God, they can do the same.
They become servants of God's word by abandoning themselves to it; not masters of it by lofty self-conscious performance.
In his compelling book, The Spoken Christ (Crossroads 1990), Fr. Willard Francis Jabusch cautions, "We don't add our own novel emotions or dramatizations into the text, but we must be able to interpret the richness that awaits us in the text and then convey that richness to our listeners." We must in his words, "Go all the way in your effort to be faithful to the text."
Faithful to the text instead of to our performance. Making sure we don't cross that fine line of drawing more attention to ourselves than the message.
In the eyes and ears of our listeners, the word of God should always eclipse us, just as the song eclipses the great singer, the dance the great dancer.