Tag Archives: writing

“Riddle me this…”

Over the last few weeks and months, I have been overcome with fascination for the written word. Part of this has been exemplified in my increasing desire to write, both fiction and commentary. Part of it can be seen in my continued collection of bumper sticker phrases, witty or amusing t-short slogans, wise and inane church signs, random quotes, and enigmatic riddles. All of these provide little snapshots of insight into the human psyche and into the mind of our culture. People also reveal bits of themselves when they show their identification with such phrases, whether it be through wearing the t-shirt, nodding in agreement with the sign, or using the quote as an away message for their instant messenger. Words are powerful, especially when they have been carefully sculpted. They have a way of capturing the mind, of charging the spirit, and even, if one is not careful, of devouring the soul. Yet their poignancy, their pithyness, their brevity can be the very thing that inspires one to greatness. An artfully drafted phrase can bring great enlightenment; it can also cause great confusion. Ultimately, words can be a great influencer. They should be handled with care and wisdom and should not be thrown
about lightly. When used properly, they can stimulate the imagination, challenge the intellect, shape the character, and melt the heart.

Say What?!

Communication seems to be something of a lost art these days. I find that when communication breaks down, the cause is either that someone simply failed to communicate or that someone didn’t quite know how to communicate. The solution to the first cause is relatively simple — just do it. The solution to the second poses a bit more of a challenge. Breakdown in written communication is typically due to a lack of knowledge and/or skill at the mechanics of writing
(something I will not go into here since, for most of us, grammar, punctuation, and spelling was beaten into us in high school English classes). Breakdown in verbal communication is a horse of another color, however. Here’s an example:

I briefly interacted with a gentleman this afternoon (about a 5-minute conversation). We started out on common ground (and common understanding), but when I walked away a few moments later, I felt a bit chagrined to realize I had no idea about what it was he ended up
talking. Somehow, in those few, brief moments of conversation, he had managed to completely lose me so that I wasn’t quite sure what point he had made (and he had made a point, as was apparent by the look of satisfaction on his face at the end of the conversation).

Looking back on that conversation, I realized, at least in part, what contributed to the breakdown in communication — he had completely skipped over the explanation of certain assumptions and background information in his haste to make his point before we parted ways. This left me thinking that he was talking about one thing when, in reality, he was talking about a related, but different, thing.

American culture moves with increasing rapidity these days. We find better and more effective shortcuts for just about everything. What’s interesting to me is that we have as yet to find a more effective shortcut for good communication. The pace of culture does seem to have an effect on communication (though I would definitely love to see some stats on this). We have less time to do everything and more activities crammed into the same 24 hours. As a result, communication tends to suffer and misunderstandings occur (and we’ve all experienced the effects of that). Good communication requires conscientiousness on behalf of the communicator (not to mention good listening skills on the part of the listener) and requires the communicator to take the time necessary to 1) make sure the effort is actually made to communicate, 2) make sure the appropriate groundwork was laid upon which to build conversation, and 3) make sure the subsequent message was communicated adequately and clearly. In effect, good communication requires slowing down a little and paying attention to the little nuances of effective dialogue, something that few of us have yet to master.

The Intent Was Good…

Well, it doesn’t look like I’m going to have much time to write as much as I wanted to today, so, since I’ve gained several new subscribers the last couple of weeks, let me take the time to once again formally invite everyone to join my new forum at http://www.open-dialogue.com and add their bit to the numerous discussions there. Essentially, Open Dialogue is a forum geared toward Christian discussion of a wide variety of topics, all with the goal of (hopefully) shaping our thoughts more toward Christ. My hope is to share what we know and what we’re learning with one another,
exchange opinions, and just generally have a good time ‘talking’ and discussing. We could always use a few more voices, especially since it’s kind of difficult for me to discuss with myself (though I do try). So, hop on over for a chat. I’ll put the pot on to boil, and we can sit down over some tea and scones.

And hopefully, tomorrow, I’ll have a new thought or two to share.

So, Why Do You Blog?

I admit it. I periodically suffer from bouts of despondency. Truth be known, I’m actually very moody and wrestle with depression on a fairly regular basis. (And the fact that my wife can put up with me day after day makes me love her all that much more.)

One thing that consistently plagues me when I hit these low points is to wonder why I bother to write, why I join in on different discussions, both over on my new forum and here on Xanga. I find myself wondering if, in the long-run, it even matters, does it make a difference, is this deep passion of mine to think deeply on the things that seem to matter and then to share that with others just so much wasted effort and energy. I guess I often grow discouraged at the
seeming lack of interest, especially in our generation, in the things that matter most, in learning what it means to live this life in a way that pleases God and draws others to Him. Admittedly, I struggle along from day to day, and more often than not find myself doing exactly the opposite of what I know I should be doing, and yet I feel this deep, burning desire to still try to get it right.

All of what I do here on Xanga and at Open Dialogue is with the intent of getting it right and seeing others get it right, too. I read what some folks write and wonder what it is they live for, what drives them, what motivates them. And for others, it is very clear what it is they live for, and it either causes me to rejoice or to feel great sadness.

I write here to teach myself and to share with others what I am learning, with hopes that we can work on each other to become more like Christ. I love the discussions here and at Open Dialogue and with the people I talk to. But I am also discouraged at how few of us seem to actually have this desire to reflect Christ.

I will continue to try to meet people where they are, to take part in their thoughts and discussions, to help them see Christ just a little better. In the meantime, I will also continue my own journey, writing here and at Open Dialogue, and hope that others find it worth their time to join me.

Why do you write? What do you hope to accomplish? How have you already been changed?

Look Before You Leap (or, Make Sure You Know What You’re Talking About Before You Speak)

I love irony. Right up until the point where it teaches me something about myself that I’d really rather not know.

I was laid low this morning by a singular realization. I love the written word. I love the way it can express a thought with an array of color, a depth of emotion, and a transcendance of thought. I love the way the written word gives me time and opportunity to fully articulate a thought, to express it the way I really mean to. The irony is this — in writing a response to a thought or an idea, I don’t always take the time to make sure I understand the original point. I sometimes find myself simply reacting rather than addressing the intended point, and in the process I end up missing the point altogether. I forget to ask the question, What is he/she saying here? Instead, I end up simply asking, albeit unconsciously, How can I react to this? What thoughts are spurred by what this individual is saying? I really need to learn to pay more attention, to ask the right questions, and to answer in kind. I need to be more thoughtful in my responses, in my interactions with others, because failure to do so can potentially cause great harm, embarrassment, and shame.

I need to learn wisdom.