preaching platitudes

sermon preparation to preach platitudes

Platitudes are like an air-borne virus that threatens to infect us.

We need to understand this virus. We must protect ourselves against it.

Once you’ve learned how to detect it, it’s easy after that. You build an immune system that will defend you.

But look out… once you have the virus it overtakes you rapidly and you will tend to infect others very quickly.

Check out my BOOKS that address issues like this one with cartoons and writing.

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  • It is indeed sad that platitudes are so very effective! That is why smart manipulators are wise to study well.
    Great cartoon!

  • Hi, David,

    I found your blog through Sabio’s. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to read you and enjoy your cartoons.

    Maybe a vitamine to stregthen your immune system against platitudes is to believe in personal stories. Yours and everyone else’s. If you can tell or listen and relate to a story, you do not have to find comfort in platitudes, I think.

    Greetings from Hungary,


  • Thanks Roni. Good idea!

  • Gary

    David I agree with you, platitudes can be very annoying.

    But if I may be so bold…many of your tweets, posts, and even some of your cartoons, are platitudes themselves. This is especially true of the “I wish prayer worked” platitude (a short biased statement is one type of platitude) you posted on Facebook in which you found the “platitudinal posturing” in the responses to be “inappropriate”.

    Following some of the backlash you received from that statement…this cartoon strikes me as being defensive. Not saying any of it is right or wrong…just voicing my initial reaction to it all.

  • Gary: You are right. Platitudes abound. I am infected too.

  • marcie

    My hands were stone but my knees were far to week. I couldn’t stand in your arms without falling to your feet…. But there’s a side to you I never knew all the things you said were never true and the games you play you will always win….. BUT I SET FIRE TO THE RAIN!!

  • I have learned not to push others toward authenticity. The more I push, the more platitudes I receive. And it is a very ironic response.

    I have come to understand that honesty, in its own way, is vulnerable. It is not a comfortable state for every individual. I think that may be one reason why so many rely on trite statements, quotes, and cliches–words that defend as easily as they offend.

  • That’s one of the wonderful things about the Word of God.

    No platitudes are necessary. The strong Word of law. And the stronger Word of gospel are all that is necessary for God to get His will accomplished.

    If more preachers would realize that, it would surely cut down on the number of platitudes in sermons.

  • That we can say: the Bible is not full of platitudes. It is the exact opposite.

  • marcie

    Just worried that would be taken wrong. It was the response of my heart while thinking of this cartoon. Platitudes, cliche, slinging of scripture, all the antics men use to control, manipulate, even molest (harsh word but true)one another! Set fire to the rain let it burn up and walk in life.

  • Gary

    If one believes in God (I do) then it seems that one has to accept that God will accomplish His will regardless of what any of us think, or write, or even believe. He would not need any “Word of law” or “Word of the gospel”. These things are for our purposes, not to enable Him.

  • Gary, things are accomplished by the word. Ideas are powerful. They may not be “material” as many atheists claim everything has to be. But ideas, thoughts, word exist and move–powerfully.

  • As a writer, this is a sticking point for me. Words are words. An individual can use them practically, artfully, or as a weapon. However, like many tools at our disposal, by themselves, they do not really do anything.

    So what makes a word sacred? What makes a story classic? What gives meaning to these definitions? Conversely, how does one define what is worthless? If the balance between Shakespeare and a small-town community play is only time and a couple of words, then what makes that so important? Similarly, if faith can be watered down into a book of platitudes, then what makes it so important?

  • Hm, I should add that although these questions are important to me, I pose them here as rhetorical thoughts. That is, I’m not really looking for answers…

  • marcie

    So how then to you recognize what is authentic? Except that it is perceived by the heart. I think the simplicity of it is poetic as it truly levels the playing field. No matter how uneducated or simple minded a man may be he has no need to seek out the educated to lead but simply open his heart

  • I think the reader can decide, David.

  • Even in these snippets of dialogue we learn whom we trust, whom we like, whose words are more likely to be profound, or profane, or platitudinous.

    It always takes ears to listen.

  • marcie

    David after forty plus years in and out of churches hearing and reading even studying and dissecting (if that matters) For me, and that is the only one I ever speak for, if it is a song, a scripture that I may recall, a line in a movie or something one might share here, its only those that breath hope, light the way, give courage, inspire, and comfort to me as an individual that have meaning. That is why so many disagreements transpire because the simplicity offends.

  • That’s why it is the amazing grace that holds us, and nothing else, in spite of everything, Marcie.

  • Gary

    Brigitte I think you misunderstand my meaning.

    I love my bible and read and study it. But Steve indicate that it was necessary for God to get His will accomplished. This is the point at which I disagree. The bible in no way enables God…rather it enables us to seek to understand Him. (And unfortunately all too often…to misunderstand Him)

    But without the bible…God would still be God.

  • Gary, as Lutherans, Steve and I assert that the word accomplishes what it has been sent for,as the Bible asserts, and that God has bound himself to it. This is where “faith” comes in: God’s word of salvation, “for you”, is true. He means it. This is good news.

    He has bound himself to his word, and though he is God anyways, always, everywhere, powerful, etc., we do not seek him in self-chosen places, or in mystical experience or in what I call self-masturbation worship experience of whipping up emotions, or whatever else we come up with on our own.

    And what is this word? It is the word of law and gospel. The law is also written on our hearts. So we know the truth about that when we hear it. And the gospel is revelation in Christ. We take the eye-witnesses’ word for it. In any case, we have no other hope.

  • marcie

    Roni PERFECT!!! Now that is a word friend =)

  • Gary

    Ah I see what you are getting at. Thanks for clarifying the Lutheran position. My beliefs do not fall in step with them but I do get where you are coming from.

    As a Christian Universalist, I doubt we could find much common ground theologically, but we do share a belief in the Savior.

  • Mar

    Guilty of this very thing, once you are the sufferer and hear the “Job’s friends” comments directed at you …. Well, I wholeheartedly want to earnestly repent of ever using a platitude again.

  • Nancy T.

    Ha! It just dawned on my what my problem is. I’m too fucking stupid and gullible not to disbelieve the greeting cards sometimes.

    Since I believe that sometimes people mean well, and actually offer the platitude as their way of trying to convey something positive, I had the audacity to think others do to.

    My bad.

    For a cynical skeptic with entitlement issues, my damn Pollyanna gene keeps kicking in.

    You’re all in my thoughts and prayers.
    Remember, whenever a door closes a window opens.
    Live and let live.
    Love your neighbor as yourself.
    Peace out.

  • Hugs ‘n Jesus

    I admit it..I had no idea what platitude meant. So thought maybe there might be others like my self.

    I really enjoy my time around the table with one and all of you everyday. Love ‘n Hugs to all. GGMHA

    Definition of PLATITUDE
    an idea or expression that has been used by many people
    Synonyms banality, bromide, chestnut, cliché (also cliche), groaner, homily, platitude, shibboleth, trope, truism
    Related Words conventional wisdom, party line, routine; inanity; generality, generalization, simplification; adage, proverb, idiom, saw, saying; old wives’ tale, stereotype
    Near Antonyms profundity

    Definition of PROFUNDITY
    the quality of being great in extent (as of insight)

    Synonyms deepness, profoundness, profundity
    Related Words discernment, perception, perceptiveness, perceptivity, percipience, sagacity, sapience, sense, sensibility, wisdom; braininess, brightness, brilliance, intellect, intelligence, judgment (or judgement), reason, sense, smartness, wit; acuity, acuteness, keenness, penetration, perspicacity, sensitivity, sharpness

    Near Antonyms shallowness, superficiality; brainlessness, idiocy, imbecility, mindlessness, simpleness, stupidity, witlessness; illogic, irrationality, unreasonableness, unsoundness

  • Marcie

    Hugs and Nancy, I had to look the word up too. So far out of the loop guess I don’t know the buzz words anymore. I too have asked myself why do you come here. I have to say it is to get the same that you speak of. I am sad that we have such a wonderful tool and yet we often still us it to run and agena, build kingdoms and what ever. I was on another site for awhile when a man said is baby had died in the womb just a few days before birth and needed prayer. He got two responses. So sad…. If one threw a scripture our the board would have lit up. Something to think about here. I feel as if again it may be time to move on myself as it has become once again a fruitless venture. I am here if any of you wish to chat in a real way that we might encourage one another in this great adventure. I would hope someday we would learn to use the tools we have to edify one another……

  • Gary

    I hear you Marcie.

    One of the more frustrating elements of this group (like so many others) is that every effort at edification or even simple concern seems to be challenged for it’s philosophical point of view. We all do it sometimes. But there seems to be a digression here that rings very true with what you are saying.

    I too am wondering if I am finding here what I hunger for.

  • marcie

    K Gary while I got you lol. I am a doer and god spoke to me through a song saying throw your soul threw every open door. So in saying that I see the internet as this huge open door where so many come seeking. And yet in the same breath you see these compartments headed Gary then Gary writes then Marcie and Marcie writes but doesn’t really engage Gary and on and on. Have to say for me it is out of fear that I really don’t engage. My question is how can we use this amazing tool? This question has been asked on another forum but no answers. For me I have zero conversation on spiritual life in real life so I crave it, so often tempted to abandon hope.

  • marcie is my email

  • Christine

    Posting of definition of “platitudes” much appreciated.

    Now see who can spot the platitudes about platitudes within even the first ten comments on this page…

    The trouble is, of course (potential platitude here), that often people use platitudes and think they are being profound.

    Which makes lecturing about platitudes to the already-infected kinda pointless…

    Besides saying “quit it with the platitudes”, how do we confront platitude-users about their cookie-cutterness and lack of attempt to genuinely connect? What’s the treatment for those already infected?