Archive for September, 2009

The other night I was sitting in a committee meeting and the subject of e-mail communication came up. The leader made a point of saying that e-mail is sometimes not helpful in communication because it lacks the full content of what is being communicated or it can be misconstrued when we start interpreting a tone that may or may not be there.

Well, this is a common theme in the volunteer organizations I deal with, which indicates to me that it is a general problem for the public. When you remove the author’s body language, tone, sense of humor/or lack thereof, something can definitely be missing in the press. So often I find myself saying to others that certain communications or certain people should not use e-mail.

I offer the following rhyme, which I made up on the spot at that meeting.

“When it comes to e-mail, read for content not tone, and if it is urgent, pick up the phone.”

Oh how much mayhem could be avoided! Oh what feelings could be preserved! If only people would communicate more effectively.

While I love Facebook, it is definitely one place where I hope that people read me behind what I post. But I also know enough to be aware that I am being read by people who don’t know me or my sense of humor or the natural history and quirks of my life that play out in what I post online. It’s true for everyone, but it is also why I try to be very careful what I post so that people don’t misread me or interpret me incorrectly.

Thank you to Carrie Newcomer and her great song and website dedicated to e-mail foibles, “Don’t Push Send.”



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Responding to the Plea

This has been an interesting week. Really. For the first time in my career I feel like people REALLY listened to my sermon; and not just a few kind people, but a lot of people. I am most grateful for their responses. Sure, we all like to hear the praise and appreciative remarks. That’s good encouragement. But this time it was the folks in disagreement I most appreciated hearing from.

What I really hoped I would get would be an opening for discussion. One person wrote me a letter that carried much evidence of love and thoughtfulness. And even though we don’t totally agree on all aspects of the health care issue, I knew from the letter that the author was one person I could sit down with and have a meaningful dialogue with. One letter writer told me why we were in complete disagreement. It seemed very charged, angry, and was very clear that we would not be in agreement over any aspect and my feeling is that conversation would not be productive. They assured me they liked me, but definitely could not accept my viewpoint on the issue and I think perhaps may confuse some of what the GMP said with what I said. The third letter was not written to or even about me, but was a CC about that person’s anger over the activities of the GMP. I did not find that it invited conversation.

One person admitted to having sidestepped greeting me because of their own discomfort with the sermon. Perhaps because I know that individual a bit better than the others I felt more sadness. Sadness because of the distance created by my words. That person is someone with whom I think I could have a good conversation about the issue so long as it was outside of the worship arena.

No matter the reaction to my sermon, it was stirring to have the experience of knowing that the words that come out of my mouth during the sermon, especially when they are so loaded with passion and boldness, do have an effect on people. I don’t want to be a preacher who always delivers a “feel-good” sermon that is full of false witness and doesn’t reach into the deep dark issues that impact our work-a-day lives. (And I don’t think I am a preacher of fluff, or downy soft comfort for everyone.) If anything, church should be the place where God’s people can come to speak the truth about their lives without fear of being cut off or shunned. I pray that God will show me how to make that a reality.

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