Saturday, February 05, 2011

Link: Internet Monk: Learn from a lousy referee

I was what some would derisively regard as a communications major, a journalism major no less. I would not say I was or am especially brilliant at this because one of the perennial obstacles I have faced in "communicating" has been that I don't tend to remember to simplify vocabular, jargon, and concepts for people. In fact I confess that I often look upon this simplifying impulse with suspicion because glib simplification of facts is a pet technique of demagogues (hey, I DID just mention I was a journalism major, right?).

But despite this weakness I have I firmly believe that the characteristic of a great writer is to convey his or her point by simultaneously NOT presuming you understand all the concepts and terms but also by being fluent enough with language to, in good faith, make the effort to express ideas so that even if you don't get every last tiny little syllable you BASICALLY get the idea of what the author intends to say. The author may not be OBLIGED to meet you at your door and spell everything out, the author may choose to make you work for comprehension, but the author is capable of doing all the work as a communicator to ensure that you DO finally understand. As an orchestration teacher I had in college once put it to me, the artists obligation is not to be understood so much as to not be misunderstood.

To that end, it's hard for me to express fully my appreciation for the writing that Michael Spenser (aka Internet Monk) did in his lifetime. He was a gifted communicator and certainly a capable writer. How do I know this? Look, I don't care about football. I don't care about athletics. In fact I generally find it profoundly silly and annoying when pastors attempt to make points that they anchor to sports events because it's not something I care about or find interesting, at all. I also tend to find it annoying because there's a propensity for a bunch of has-been, didn't-make it athletes to retroactively cast themselves as armchair pundits on games they couldn't play well enough to go pro. Hey, just because I don't care for sports doesn't mean I didn't notice all the armchair stuff. :)

All that said, Michael could write something that drew from the realm of sports but write it in a way where if you don't give a crap about sports you can STILL learn something from it and still find it interesting to read. I can say that for myself and I say that as someone who was conscripted into attending at least one football game and has never found anything about football interesting. But Michael's essay I've linked to is a fun read and a useful one not just for Christian "leaders" but how any Christian can consider living life as a whole.

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