Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Conversation As Art

The word “conversation” seems to be on everybody’s lips these days. But is “conversation” really the balm it is touted as being? Or, is it a dying art that my generation -- that of the ‘60s and ‘70s -- beamed up high when we were busy being “high.

Hangin’ out was a big part of the pause that refreshed us back then. We had a great deal of conversation. But conversation takes time. Who takes time today?

(Besides, almost no one remembers what anyone said back then, including themselves. And, unfortunately – while we truly did “pause,” some of us got hooked on the art of pausing and didn’t do much else.. But that’s a story for another time.)

A story I picked up from a recent Washington Post article brought the question to mind for me; to converse or not to converse. In an article headlined as – "Texting Generation Doesn't Share Boomers' Taste For Talk" (Washington Post, Sunday, August 9, 2010) -- Deborah Tannen, age 65, “a linguistics professor at Georgetown University who studies how people converse in everyday life,” voiced her concerns over an area of “polarization” between the younger and older generations.

She noted the strong inclination to misinterpret one another between the generations, arising over cell phone communication. To make her point, Tannen stated that “her generations feelings” –

“…are perfectly captured in a recent New Yorker magazine cartoon that shows two older, balding men sitting at a bar. The caption reads: "I used to call people, then I got into e-mailing, then texting, and now I just ignore everyone."

The New Horizons Small “Zones of Peace” Project has as one of its main initiatives a four part conversations format called “Coffee House Conversations.”

(Perhaps, as one volunteer suggested, we might just need, at this point in time, to put some of our New Horizons’ Small “Zones Of Peace” Project conversations talents to work bridging the communications gap between the older and the younger generations.)

In the three years our conversations project has been active it has been rewardingly successful. One project, the "Saving Centennial Mission,” was particularly impactful, moving a church -- Centennial Memorial United Methodist Church, Frederick, Maryland -- from threatened closure (Frederick News Post, June 23, 2009) to a congregational revitalization and an organizational turnaround, including their achieving direly needed fundraising objectives.

In honor of the coming one year anniversary of the conversations that led to this victory, I think it is time, now, for me to begin sharing tales from the adventure of --

"Two Pastors, Two Ministries, One Church And My Experience Of Awe"

Coming soon!

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