Sunday Sermon
WARNING: Set metaphor filter to HIGH

A good conversation is balanced. There is give and take in equal measure, and the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts. You feel respected as an individual, and also a part of something greater than yourself. Ideas change hands, but more importantly, trust is exchanged and the relationship of everyone, each to the other, is strengthened and improved. The topic may roam far and wide, but we cover all that terrain in sync, moving as a tribe. We speak our minds and love one another for our diversity. We come away enriched and energized. Such is the converse of friends.

Alas, not all conversations are that good. Most are skewed, many are filled with sophistry and gamesmanship, and a few are a maze of dislogic. There is often no intention to hear, only the desire to be heard and obeyed. Such an exchange can become an armed conflict, a use of force that obeys no rules - and some become bitter, long-running wars. There is no Geneva Convention for conversation, no court at the Hague to try those who commit spoken atrocities, but some words and phrases are war crimes none the less. We emerge exhausted, with bloody hands and hardened hearts for our trouble. Such is the converse of predators and scavengers.

I confess that I have waged many a campaign on that battlefield. I'm not proud to say that I have fought tooth and nail over the pitted terrain created by this kind of intercourse, and limped from the field to lick my wounds without learning the lesson it offered. I'm even less proud to admit that I have lead many successful sorties on that blasted plain, and gloated over the fallen like some sick carrion bird.

Why, you may wonder, is His Sinfulness rambling on like Yoda in a PoMo remake of Return of the Jedi?

Glad you asked.

The limitations of the flesh make speech our primary way of reaching each other. We can touch a loved one, but in a sense, this is only the barest form of communication; it's like knocking on the ceiling to tell your upstairs neighbor to quiet down. Simple concepts are conveyed, but abstractions and subtleties are lost. If you don't believe me, try to communicate with your significant other about something conceptual, like your income taxes for example, by physical contact only. An entertaining exercise perhaps, but my guess is that it would lead to a pretty jacked-up 10-40 form...

Speech is more like two tin cans with a string stretched between them - it's a tenuous strand between your mind and their mind, linking however briefly, to share something.

I have been surprised at the wide quality of conversations I have been having of late. In the last week I have seen the spectrum of interpersonal information exchange, from effortless to incoherent to apocalyptic. I imagine that most of us could point to a similar range of experience (though probably over a longer time frame - the Dark Pontif does run with a fast crowd, after all...).

For how much of that spectrum am I responsible?
How much did I want to know my friends' hearts?
How much did I want to misunderstand?
How much did I want to fight?

Unfortunately, the answers for me were, not enough, too much, and a lot.

When you are done trying to itemize your deductions by touch alone, ask yourself those questions. I'm sure that the good people of the Flock will find themselves to be much less pugnacious than myself, but I figure that we all could be more aware of the power our speech holds. Be willing to hold each other as gently in speech as you would in making love.

Go in Peace.


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