Communication Gaps

Communication Gaps February 14, 2023

Over the past few months, I have experienced some lapses in communication with people. It’s possible that a few of them, as some of my mentors suggest, could be cleared up quickly with a simple phone call. But, for whatever reason, the times we live in seem to go against that.

These lapses in communication leave me feeling misunderstood, not cared for, and often retributive toward the other person.

I don’t want to throw shade on the people involved in those incidences. I often feel bad about myself because of what I did or didn’t do. I would like to blame it on technology or the times or something else, but the truth is that we have just accepted bad communication, and it started with our religion.

Please allow me to think aloud about how religion contributes to our bad communication.

1. It starts with the Bible.

Let’s just focus on the New Testament of the Bible a second. When Jesus roamed the earth, he didn’t ever tell people to write things down (helpful in communication) and they didn’t. They just told stories to each other and then finally wrote the gospels about 40 years later. It’s the same amount of time I’ve been out of high school. I don’t know if I remember a single conversation from high school.

After some of the New Testament, and many other letters and gospels were written down, they were circulated and copied and shared. Then, about 300 years later, a Roman emperor decided to compile some of the writings and some of the Hebrew Scripture into a canon of the Bible. That was also when the church united with the Empire and got organized.

From that point forward, the Bible would be debated and copied and translated and misunderstood up until and including the current day?

If Jesus is God revealed, He could have cleared up this communication gap in the first century, but He didn’t. There are tens of thousands of Protestant denominations, all claiming to understand it clearly.

The Bible does not clearly communicate anything. In fact, one of the most important things in the universe happens to be love and the Bible is all over the map on conditional and unconditional love. It doesn’t take a stand on slavery, genocide, mysogyny, racism, classicism or even abuse.

To say that the Bible is clear communication about anything is just about the best example of burying our head in the sand.

2. Then Came the Preacher’s

We have grown accustomed to being lectured on Sunday mornings and Saturday nights. There are varying degrees of hell, fire and brimstone. Some are really loud and in your face and some are soft spoken; but regardless of the style, it’s still the same principle.

This style was also started during the time of Constantine. The places of gathering got much bigger, the stage was elevated and one person addressed the congregation. Communication became one-sided from the “special” person that possessed the answers and read from their special book.

We now celebrate these people who are often simply talented orators because we say “they step on our toes” or “feed us” or “give us our fix.” We are like baby birds, waiting for them to regurgitate the pablum from their previous meal.

But, however, you feel about sermons or homilies which may be helpful in certain situations, it is not effective communication. Maybe instead of listening to so many sermons, we should have been listening to each other.

3. We Forgot How to Listen

One side benefit of my deconstruction, Is that when I removed some of the excessive religious practices in my life, I was able to see more clearly the trauma I had bypassed for 20 years. A key recovery method was a process called focusing that employed deep listening from a contemplative companion.

Doing the podcast, The Desert Sanctuary, has forced me to listen to people’s stories. Laura and I consider it a part of our practices to listen to people’s sacred accounts of their experiences. We were conditioned by Christianity to bypass hard things and try to fix people’s problems instead of really hearing them.

There are probably a myriad of clinical and psychological reasons why we don’t communicate well, but one thing is for sure, Western religion employed the worst possible strategies and made the problem much, much worse.

There seems to be a point in every bad communication situation that I’m involved with, when I know the damage is already done. Both of us said something we can’t take back, and for now, it might be better just to move on and wait until there is some healing.

I feel the same way about organized religion. It’s like a home where there has been abuse and neglect and a myriad of misinformation throughout the centuries. It won’t be fixed until it can be dissolved to some degree and we learn to communicate much, much better.

Possibly, part of the answer is that we just need to be determined to get better personally. If we listen more to each other and preach less, maybe we will start to trust ourselves more and our confidence will improve so that we really hear each other when we attempt to communicate.

Be where you are,
Be who you are,
Be at peace,

Karl Forehand

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