Kenneth E. Kovacs
Parson’s Porch Books, Cleveland, Tenn. 160 pages
Kenneth Kovacs is a seasoned pastor and a theologian who writes like a poet. What he offers in this collection of sermons and essays is prophetic, in the finest sense of that word. Since his days studying with practical theologian James Loder, Kovacs has dared to explore the importance of authentic experience in the Christian life. He has done this while understanding the suspicion of human experience prevalent in the Reformed tradition. That exploration brought him to engage in profound readings of Scripture, theology and the writings of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. Few pastors have engaged in this dialogue with Jung as skillfully as Kovacs who retains his loyalty to the Reformed theological tradition. Remarkably, he brings this insight to his sermons preached for his own suburban Maryland congregation.
In an essay that interprets Jung as trying to reform the church, Kovacs asks, “What if the church saw itself in service to the sacred and viewed itself as the conduit, the means, and the place where a connection with the Holy might actually occur, a community that helps individuals live into the transformation that inevitably occurs when one encounters the Holy?” Indeed, what if this happened? Kovacs, following this conviction, invites his readers to consider actual experience with the Holy in full view of the risks this means for the institutions that insist on being scared containers rather than containers of the sacred. “People are moving away from the church because very often (not always, but often) it fails to speak to the deep, human desire to connect with the Holy, to something numinous.” This is obvious for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see. I am grateful for Kovacs showing insiders and outsiders a way toward an experience with the Holy.