Thinking Out Loud

August 1, 2017

The World of Online Discussion: An Apology

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:55 am

Missing the Point

The article resonated with me from the moment I saw the headline. It also reminded me of something else, a parallelism to the stated subject worth mentioning. Furthermore, I also had a source I could quote that would certainly make an impression.

So I left the comment.

Not even twelve hours later, I’m looking at the comments which followed mine and realized something: I had completely missed the main point of the original post. I had wandered into the land of the tangents.

The author of the blog is an author, an academic, a theologian. I tracked down his email address through the school where he was teaching at the time. I told him that I sincerely believed I had something to contribute to the discussion but now realized my comment simply didn’t belong and humbly asked him to please delete it.

Which thankfully he did…

The word nuance applies in more locations and situations than we realize. It’s possible to see the surface of something but not really grasp what’s going on. Like Asperger’s kids we can miss the sarcasm. Or perhaps we simply didn’t hear the latest development in an ongoing story and aren’t getting all the references.

On the surface of it, I can be a surface person. One girl described me as shallow. (She lost any chance of a date at that point.) But I also love to go deep. My other blog’s tag line is, “Digging a little deeper.” I love double entendre. I love it when someone writes a word or phrase which is a homage to an obscure book or song or movie. (I was going to write an homage, but it seemed pretentious.)

But there is a time to be Captain Obvious as well.

One of my constant criticisms of my wife’s social media posts is that they’re too cryptic. I get what she means because I was there when it happened, but others might not. I am constantly telling her to, “Put the cookies on the lower shelf.”

But then I will do the same thing, only I justify it in my case because I’m making concessions to certain readers or followers who are in on the thing vaguely cited.

In other words, when I do it it’s right and when she does it it’s wrong…

I’d like to think the theology professor appreciated my candor in requesting the comment’s deletion. It was a reminder that some things, while they may not be above your pay grade, are above your realm of experience and education.

 

 

 

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March 13, 2017

For the Smart People in the Room

Filed under: Christianity, relationships — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:21 am

You’re considered a smart person. You

  • are a quick study
  • have an encyclopedic knowledge on a variety of subjects
  • know how to think and articulate things logically
  • rarely find yourself at a loss for words

So many times you find yourself in conversations with people who may not share your gifts and understanding of different things. Here’s what I want to share with you today:

Your gifts and knowledge are only as good as your ability to present them in ways that the common person can understand them

and

your only barometer of how well you are getting through is to make high levels of eye contact with the listener and look for signs of recognition.

If you’re getting through, you can then move on to the next point, or know you can continue but communicating at a higher level. If you’re not, don’t be afraid to say,

  • “Are you with me?”
  • “Are you tracking with that?”
  • “Have I lost you?”
  • “That’s not too confusing, is it?”

But if that’s the axiom, here’s the corollary: Sometimes you find yourself in conversation with someone who

  • is simply better educated
  • has a much more specialized knowledge of or training in the subject at hand
  • has progressed to an aspect of the topic that is above your pay grade
  • processes things more quickly than you and therefore talks faster

Certainly at times like that humility sets in. And smart people need that to take place in their lives from time to time.1 In those situations:

A truly smart person won’t continue the conversation beyond the point where they’ve lost the plot

and

it’s okay to ask the person to backtrack so you can regroup your forces and continue.

Faking it — pretending you understand — is a terrible choice. In those moments don’t be afraid to say,

  • “Can we go back to the previous point so I can see how we just got to where we are?”
  • “What’s the ‘…for Dummies‘ version of how you would say that?”
  • “What is the 25-words-or-less take-away of what you’re saying?”
  • “I’m hearing you but I’m missing the nuances of that particular argument/distinction.”

Rarely if ever are our interactions a conversation of equals.2 Wisdom will dictate that you do all that is in your power to level the playing field as much as possible.


1 A really smart person won’t begin a sentence with “And;” but that’s another discussion.
2 Sometimes you have to ask yourself why you’re in the conversation to begin with. Jesus talked about casting pearls before swine. Are you simply trying to look intelligent to someone, or feign intelligence to someone else? Talking over someone’s head, or allowing someone to talk over yours for an extended period is just a waste of time. Wisdom lies in knowing when to proceed and when to bail and cut your losses.

September 30, 2009

What Really Matters to You Right Now?

Filed under: blogging, theology — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:20 pm

question-markSo I’m blog-hopping looking for something creative to post today and suddenly realizing how easy it is to be caught up in someone else’s issues.   There are discussions and debates going on about a wide range of topics that, if I am reading these blogs correctly, are so critical that the fate of civilization as we know it is hanging in the balance.

Sometimes a topic intersects an area of personal interest.   Other times, I think of something clever — okay, at least I think it’s clever — to add as a short comment.   But the next day that blog will be off on a different subject which really isn’t something I see as critical to my own personal walk with Jesus.

Many Christian blogs are caught up in discussions that make your head spin.   I love surveying the issues and seeing what matters to some people.   (A blog like Internet Monk — see the blogroll — will do that for you and give you a crash course in theological hot topics.)   But often I feel like this is someone else’s discussion. Maybe I just haven’t reached a level of spiritual maturity to burden myself with certain topics.   Or maybe — and this is a BIG maybe — they haven’t written their argument in such a way as to evoke from me a response out of the depth of my understanding and connection to that particular concern.

So…what really matters to you right now?   What topic would you like to find on a Christian blog that would hit you right where you’re living at this moment?

Break up into groups of 3-4 and discuss; OR leave a comment!   (Or both!)

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