Can You Hear Me Now?

Can You Hear Me Now? January 23, 2015

nohearAbout five years ago, several things happened in a short time that got me thinking and writing about communication:

Someone named Charlotte Allen published an op-ed in the LA Times about just how dreadfully sick she is of atheists.

A Facebook friend asked me what I consider to be the “negatives of church.” A good question that I answered.

Another Facebooker asked why I am “so against God.” I said it was an unanswerably silly question. He rephrased, and I answered.

Yet another FB friend went ballistic when I strayed from the apparent party line in response to the President’s Nobel Peace Prize.

After seven years, my youngest daughter stopped sucking her fingers. Just boom, stopped cold.

A recent participant in one of my nonreligious parenting seminars wrote to thank me. She had followed my advice for talking to her religious father. A four-year rift was healed, she said, in about five minutes.

I received my 27th email from a Christian gentleman in Missouri letting me know he’s praying for me.

I de-friended an old HS friend on Facebook whose page was filled with Bible verses (perfectly fine) and unfiltered hatred of those unlike him (not fine). Then I wished like hell I hadn’t.

I saw that seven new reasons for not believing in God have been added to a website that for some reason lists such things.

The usually sharp Robert Krulwich of Radiolab interviewed Richard Dawkins and made me nearly drive into the Hudson River. And I live in Georgia.

I came across a fascinating quote from Charles Darwin with great whacks of modern relevance.

I read an article in Newsweek in which (atheist journalist Chris) Mooney and (agnostic biologist Sheril) Kirshenbaum suggested that science is done no favors by insisting that it is necessarily incompatible with religion — followed by an epic blog-tizzy of sarcastic proportions.

I read a Newsweek interview in which Richard Dawkins said it is possible for someone to be religious and accept evolution. In the blog-tizzy that followed, many atheists wondered if Dawkins had become an “accommodationist.”

They probably seem disconnected, this baker’s dozen. But as each one happened, the same string was plucked in my head, and I decided to write about it in a series of posts at my old blog, The Meming of Life. For reasons unclear, my posts did not change the world of human communication. So here I am again.

I’m motivated half by anger, half by frustration, and half by hope. The first two make me want to chuck the whole topic. It’s the third half that makes me care enough to blog — the hope that some of us are finally on the verge of learning how to communicate effectively, both within and between our “camps,” and that naming the problem and suggesting ways around it might do some good.

In order to practice what I recommend, I’m going to try to frame this thing in terms of what I have learned, what I have found effective, and how I have changed in my approach over the years. I don’t plan to scold anyone for how they approach these things, since that puts an end to listening, and hearing and being heard are my primary goals here. But I might ask that others consider how lovely and useful those two goals are, and whether it isn’t a shame that we all give them so little attention.

I’ll start next time with Delaney’s fingers.

This is the first in a series of posts that first appeared about five years ago on my former blog The Meming of Life. My intended audience for this series is my fellow atheists etc. Any religious believers who drift in are more than welcome to read along and even comment, but know that even as I talk about how to talk across lines of difference, I’m not doing that now. This is mostly an in-house meeting.

On to Part 2

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