Saturday, August 23, 2014

can you hear me now...


Humankind lives for it.
We want to know and be known
and nothing is more frustrating than poor communication.

"What we've got here
is failure to communicate."
The Captain, Cool Hand Luke

"You keep using that word.
I do not think it means what you think it means."
Inigo Montoya

"Can you hear me now?"
The Verizon Guy


   Unity- a word that connotes oneness.

"Behold," the Psalmist cries, "how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell together in unity."  Psalm 133:1

   But what of unity in communication?
Effective communication requires agreement... definition and context are hand in glove.

   Imagine an agreement on and of words so pure, so unified, that God Himself said, "Nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them."

Here is the story:

'Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar.  Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”  And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.  Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.'
Genesis 11:1-9, ESV


      Living languages evolve. We live in the midst of another stage in communication evolution- texting. Both Strunk and White are turning in their graves with each keystroke (and we call them smartphones). Ever since the tower builders walked away babelling to themselves, communication has suffered. We all know the best communication involves a multi-sensory experience:

   -We touch, with a hand on a shoulder or the feel of a printed page
   -We hear tonal inflection and volume
   -We taste, with a nod of knowing, over a shared meal 
   -We smell during a fireside chat as the woodyness ministers to our soul

...and, we see our two-dimensional presentations, adorned with serifs or sans.   

   We live and die with our words. Saunter through a cemetery. Engraved in stone are words, final words that cry, "I was here!" These words carry weight...literally. Granite weighs in at 180 lbs. per cubic foot. And yet, our living words carry even greater weight. Who among us has not felt the crush of a harsh word or soared with the release of a timely encouragement?


   According to GLM (Global Language Monitor) as of January 1, 2014, the number of words in the English language is 1,025,109.8. (Yes, someone is monitoring our words.) The GLM adds, "Currently there is a new word created every 98 minutes or about 14.7 words per day."

nota bene- Google validates GLM's number of words in
English, it must be true.

   We carry words because words carry us, calming us to stillness and moving us to action. Words tell our story and everybody has a story in want of being heard. When we share or receive someone's story we become part of the larger story... we remind and remember we are not alone.

   Frederick Buechner said, "In Hebrew, the word dabar means both word and deed. A word doesn't merely say something, it does something. It brings something into being. It makes something happen."

   And so we are to choose our words with care.

Words carry life and death.

Words make things happen.

Make something good happen.


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