A perspective on communication

“The shrill and harsh tones that so often encumber Christian speech need to be tempered with a humility that listens deeply to and a grace that sympathizes profoundly with the diversity of people, ideas and experiences one encounters. Unless we can see and feel the ambiguity and complexity of our world’s experience within our own selves and within our own experience, we will have nothing to say to them. And it is in this context of authentic engagement with an uncertain and often perplexing world, riddled with suffering, conflict, confusion, and strife, that we reaffirm the singularity of our devotion to the world’s true Lord, who alone will lead the entire cosmos to the time when all wrongs will be made right, and all hurts will be healed.”

–Richard Liantonio, On The Road To Emmaus

The wonders of Belhaven professors are spoken of over and over again in my department.  We hear it from alumni, friends of the University, residents in the Belhaven neighborhood and current students.  I can speak to the truth of that from my own experience as well.

Liantonio uses the words “shrill and harsh” to describe some Christian speech.  I appreciate his articulation of this type of communication because once upon a time that was my voice.  It is sad, but true.  And, it hurt.  The fool in me believed that I could argue someone into the faith…if I could just deliver to them the truth, if I could give irrefutable evidence of God, then they would have no option but to come on over to my corner of the ring.  Let me tell you, that was a sad and lonely corner.  And, yet, my professors at Belhaven showed nothing but grace and humility in exposing my folly.   My own salvation came not from the voice of ridicule and sternness, but through the love that came from patient and sincere speech.

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