Communication

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This photograph of someone else’s hands on a manual typewriter keyboard reminds me of my college days. My fingers slipping off the keys, getting stuck in between as I wrote a paper. If I made a mistake I would slip a little piece of paper with white out on one side between the offending key and paper and press the key again. It was a relatively slow, pains taking process. The typewriters we used in Journalism classes were IBM Selectrics. These ubiquitous preferred electronic office typewriters were much faster and easy to use. Also, they didn’t eat fingers. The third keyboard in my student life was a VDT (video display terminal). We used these keyboards attached to small monitors to download stories onto diskettes. Fast forward 40 years or so and the writing I do now is different, but still influenced and benefited by the analytical/critical skills I learned in school. Who, what, where, when, why, and how still often find their way into my writing. Something a favorite professor of mine used to say was, “Our job is not to tell readers what to think, but rather to tell them what to think about.” That puts the onus on us as communicators. After determining the topic/story, whether speaking with someone face to face, or writing, I still believe the ability to get a message across is one of the most important skills any of us can cultivate. If we aren’t careful though, comprehension can be the drowning victim in a flood of communication. Unfortunately, the age of social networking encourages worship of the podium and “like” addiction. It’s easy to fall into the trap of chasing applause from the same audience over and over again. Too often, the participants in platforms like Facebook foster an atmosphere of us vs. them instead of appealing to each other’s hearts and what we have in common.

Since today is Mother’s Day, you might be asking yourself what any of this talk about communication has to do with it. I’ve always believed the best communicators are great listeners first. Anyone with a loud voice can make a speech, but not everyone is a good listener, which is a hallmark of quality communicators. My mother was a wonderful listener. Looking back, I know she put as much or more effort into hearing than she did in being heard. This was one of her gifts to the world, and to the degree it is mine, she deserves much of the credit. As a Christian who believes the gospel message must take primacy in my life, I recognize that my words matter. I alone am responsible for them, both the ones I utter and the ones I choose to mull over and process.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
James 1:19 ESV

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:29 ESV


“It is not the voice that commands the story; it is the ear.”
Italo Calvino

“I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.”
Truman Capote

Lord, inform what we say and write
to the exclusion of words
that tear down and divide.
Help us work the muscle
between our ears
to devote more attention to what we hear.
Focus our discernment
toward what you say
through your word
and our brothers and sisters today.
Then if reconciliation and peace
are worth being preached
like the song says, “let it begin with me.”


© Joel Tipple 5/10/2020






Hearing God

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
John 10:27 ESV

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17 ESV

“Don’t say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.”
From an essay titled, “Social Aims” by Ralph Waldo Emerson published in 1875.

Communication. It’s not so easy, is it? And we live in a time when communication is seemingly effortless. Unless the person we wish to speak with is located somewhere one of the many technologies dedicated to communication is not available, we are often able to connect almost instantly. Any time we want. Not that long ago, within the perspective of human history, one had to wait weeks or even months for a letter to find its recipient. I’m guessing letter writers were pretty careful with their words. Now, we live in a sea of words. Print media has virtually ceded power and influence to television and the internet. Vigilance over what we read and what we listen to is more important than ever. Who we listen to and believe and our responsibility to do our own due diligence is more critical than ever.

The two scriptures shown here at the top reveal aspects of God talking to us. One of the primary ways we are able to hear God is through scripture. The Bible we rely on to hear God remains remarkably unchanged. It is truly a miracle that it has stayed intact over the centuries. It’s clear God has kept a hedge of protection around his word. However, contrast those scriptures with the quote from Emerson. A Google search will reveal multiple versions of the original words, some differing so as to seem like the results of a game of telephone. Some of my favorite quotes are attributed to Winston Churchill. Unfortunately, there are a few that can’t be accurately sourced to the famed British leader, though they are repeated often.

So, we rely on scripture to hear God. Also, we rely on prayer. And part of prayer is listening. Being quiet. Finding a gentle river apart from the thundering sea of words and other sounds we are bombarded with every day. If sleep is a way for our body and mind to repair itself, surely prayer is a way to repair our spirit and hear God. Finally, we come to fellowship. God has designed us to be social beings, even for those of us who prefer solitude over crowds, there is a need to speak and be spoken to. God made us for community, where there is learning, sharing, and yes, healing, to be found.

I search for the hearing of you,
with every sense with which I was born.
I cry for the knowing of you,
and pray for the knowing to never be torn.
Teach me to gather every way
I can be with you.
Help me collect them,
as gifts beyond value.
Though the world may thunder away,
let me yet hear your whisper today,
the precious treasure,
the hearing of you.


© Joel Tipple 7/13/2019



Eloquent

cropped-nov42012-018.jpg

i’m not
all
ways
so eloquent
words
all run for the door
to be met
by the
gate
keeper
who checks to see
if they’ve been said before

and yet
i watch as the words
tumble forth
forgetting
their
place
in line
what i hoped
would be
rhapsody
turns out
not so
sublime

good soldiers
words
train some more
letters
lift
and run
cycle then
until the wheels
go and
spin up
the sun

© Joel Tipple