Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I have a love / hate relationship with my email. I love the fact that I can communicate quickly. “Can” is the keyword here. It is possible to communicate quickly, but if I don’t check my emails for new messages or if the person to whom I’ve sent a message doesn’t check theirs…perhaps things don’t happen so quickly after all.

There is an additional dynamic at play as well. With email there are not the accompanying nuances that come from the spoken word and no way to read body language. Is the person on the other end of the internet being funny? Sarcastic? Are they angry or merely emphasizing a point? This lack of what I think of as “normal” clues gets lost in translation when using email.

I have been misunderstood and, no doubt, misunderstood others as a result of this. We know what we are trying to say, its just that others may not be able to appreciate the background we bring to our words.

I’ve found this to be true when trying to tell others about the Disciples of Christ beliefs and the core values of our congregation in particular. “What does your church believe?” I’m often asked. When I share that we have a broad range of religious understanding within the body of church, I usually get a follow up questions similar to, “What must one believe to be a part of community?” That Jesus is the Son of the Living God seldom serves as a satisfactory answer to the question.

When we baptize we ask the very question of a candidate to which we expect that very answer, yet we don’t ask them to give a public definition as to what they think they are saying. Ironically, that’s one of the things I love most about being a part of the Disciples of Christ. When we proclaim “there’s place at the table” of everyone we mean it! There is a place within our congregation for almost every point along the Christian belief spectrum.

That’s something to be pondered as we set forth on our journey to promote religious tolerance. We need to be sensitive as we step forward. As the noted Disciples preacher, Fred Craddock, has said, “Our privilege is our peril!”


1 comment:

  1. It is really hard to know what someone is "feeling, thinking or hearing" in a email. Unfortunetly, the art of face to face conversation is a disappearing art. For all the emailer, texters and facebookers out there, don't judge a comment on whether there are bunches of exclamation points, capital letters or bold. It used to be that those were signs of anger, excitement or stress, but people are not taught that anymore. Be patient, ask for clarity and above all, type and "hear" through love