Tag Archives: Sound bytes

Logical Gal – always be prepared

27 May

Be prepared  I walked into the faculty lounge, coffee cup in hand.  In between classes, I caught the tail end of a conversation between 2 of my colleagues in this secular school.  “……believes in intelligent design.”

With those words the 8th grade science teacher walked out, leaving just the two of us.  Inserting myself into the just-ended conversation, I asked the other teacher washing his coffee mug, “Who were you talking about?”

As it turns out, a prominent Christian’s great-grandson was visiting the school for the day right when the 8th grade science class was going over the theory of evolution.

My colleague dried his mug as I responded, “I believe in Intelligent Design, too!”  I continued, “All that means is that something didn’t come from nothing.”  Then I knocked on the wall.  After the 3rd tap I observed, “When you hear a knock on your front door, you tend to respond, ‘I wonder who that could be?’  No one assumes that the knock made the noise itself.  That’s what Intelligent Design means.”

Good-natured, my fellow teacher congenially acknowledged my comments and said something about evolution.  I picked up at this mention and continued with my 2-minute, on-the-spot lesson. I proceeded, “When you talk about evolution, you have to clarify what you mean and draw the distinction between macro and micro-evolution.  I bet you won’t find a single Christian who doesn’t agree with micro-evolution.”

Again, this dear man nodded in agreement, adding that most Christians he has heard haven’t made that distinction.  We then wrapped up this brief coffee pause with some shared commentary on the lack of civil discourse in America on ANY topic.  He agreed that at the ‘sound-byte’ level, it’s difficult to bring out ANY of these distinctions.

And then we parted, each back to our classrooms.  As I reflected, I evaluated what I had done well and what I could have done better. First the good points:

  • I initiated a conversation in a public place with someone who is congenial and not hostile to Christianity (even if he defines Christianity to fit his worldview)
  • I did not shy away from identifying myself as a supporter of Intelligent Design
  • I quite easily and confidently shared what I knew off the cuff

What I failed to do:

  • I did not ask HIM a single question!  It wouldn’t have taken any courage to ask him what he knows about Intelligent Design.  It wouldn’t have been painful to learn his definition of Evolution

I can’t predict whether I would have had the moxie or trusted God enough to engage in the same way with the science teacher whose class the Christian visitor had witnessed.  But I am thankful to God for having absorbed enough from podcasts and read enough books to at least give a thumbnail’s description of the issue.  And that has whetted my appetite to equip myself further and be better prepared for the next encounter.  One never knows when the opportunity will arise, so like the Boy Scouts, we must:

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (1 Pet 3:15b)

Logical Gal – When someone changes the subject

24 Mar

Change subject - Jedi Mind Trick

Many people you talk with do not employ Jedi finesse.  They abruptly change the subject from the issue at hand, often to an ad hominem attack.

Let’s imagine a conversation about how best to address recent changes in global temperatures. The discussion débuts well, terms are clarified. When positions begin to be articulated, the going gets clouded by a sudden attack on a different issue, to wit:

Global Warming ‘Fear-Monger’: You only advocate a ‘wait-and-see’ approach because you’re one of those Christian fundamentalist, head-in-the-sand deniers!

Global Warming ‘Denier’: Whoa…wait a second!  You just changed the subject from what to do about elevated temperatures to WHY I might advocate a position.  Can we go back to the original argument? I’d like to present my reasons for my position.  And I would like to hear yours! How does that sound?

It is EASY to get drawn down a different path.  With such an insult to one’s character, I have often succumbed to the temptation to defend WHY I believe something.  However, the BEST move is to shift the conversation back to where it was.  There was a single issue and either you or he were attempting to defend a course of action with REASONS.

Changing the subject

Why might someone want to play ‘switch-a-roo’ with you?  It could be that they have NOT thought about their position and have no reasons to back up their assertion.  It takes time to study issues.  We live in a culture enamored with and satisfied by shallow 140-character sound bytes.  That allows NO time for developing a case.  But quick pointed jabs might be enough to send one’s opponents packing.

Quid faciam?  What to do?

Be kind but direct.  Try at least twice to move the conversation back on track, to the topic at hand.  If after the second time, your interlocutor purposefully shifts again, then gently terminate the discussion.  It’s a waste of your time and his.

You might not gain ground with this person, but your refusal to take the bait will make an impression on him.  It might actually get him to study the facts for himself!

Back on Track

Logical Gal – do rallying cries help?

27 Jan

We know a rallying cry when we hear one!

  • Remember the Alamo!
  • Win this one for the Gipper!
  • One for all, and all for one!

Last week was the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision, Roe v. Wade. In all the publicity from both sides, I read a Washington Post story about one gal’s battle to end the intentional killing of innocent human fetuses.

Lila Rose, 25, was raised in a Christian home-schooling family where she breathed in family values.  Her attitude towards children was shaped by her parents who preached, “A baby is a gift!”  (They raised 8 kids!)

Certainly that is a belief supported by the Bible as well as by other cultures.  But as an argument for the pro-life movement, it doesn’t carry very much weight.  And what I am afraid of is that most people live in the shallows of slogans and battle cries.  They don’t take the time to develop an argument that carries any weight.

Likewise, the other side of the abortion argument hides behind loud jabbing media sound bytes. In the newspaper account of Lila Rose, her tactics of posing as a young teen impregnated by an older man are described.  Her subterfuge is purposefully intended to catch an abortion provider’s reaction and counsel on video. THEIR remarks included the following accusation:

  • Pretending to be pregnant and hiding a camera is ‘unethical’!

Now that would be funny, if it weren’t so sad!  They apparently consider subterfuge ‘wrong’, but not murder.

Again, this slogan isn’t very helpful.  Sound bytes tend to stop a discussion.  But where do you go from there?

Actually, there IS a way out!  As with any discussion, the best place to start is at the beginning.

No, not à la Julie Andrews with her Do-Re-Mi song….

…but with the definition of terms.  What do we mean by GIFT when we say babies are a gift? What do we mean by UNETHICAL?

Once you clear away vagueness and identify pre-suppositions, you can see more clearly how you might carry on with a discussion.

So DON’T shy away from hard topics.  DON’T fear stepping on toes or offending people.  If you ask questions in a non-threatening manner, in a way that shows you genuinely want to know, people will open up. And you’re more likely to actually get somewhere where you wouldn’t by merely  lobbing  slogans or rallying cries.

Question:  Where might you begin?  What is a context or arena that you live in that is dominated by short pithy, but worthless sayings?