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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
               Friday, October 11 2002 

Risking miscommunication

Why do we intentionally risk being misunderstood by making statements tongue in cheek, "for effect," and exaggerated to drive a point home? They're attempts to elevate the art of interpersonal communication to higher levels. In most instances that I can think of in my own use of such communication devices, the main motive seems to be humor, and we've already looked at how comics freely use these tools to turn serious topics into jokes.

At one level—perhaps the "purest" level in terms of motivations and ego involvement—we use these as probes or prods to see if the other member of our conversation is on the same "wave length." "Can s/he take a joke" is a basic question about anyone we might want to get to know better. Will s/he encourage me by reinforcing my feeble efforts at humor by laughing or at least chuckling? We go through stages from casually seeing other people to making comments, to considering them fun, to being friends (or, at worst in the other direction, persons to be avoided).

Nothing wins me more to another's side than the feeling that the person can make me laugh. And the people capable of doing that best open resources in me that I'm not always aware of, that enable me to be funny in return. The book of Proverbs reprises this theme at least several times: a friend is someone who acts like a "flint" who sparks you to higher levels. C. S. Lewis, my favorite author, says several times that friendship occurs, in his observation, when two people discover something in each other that they've never seen in anyone other than themselves till then. I've wondered about this each time I've seen it in his writing, and I always think, "is he talking about hobbies or avocations?"

In my own experience, the elusive thing that endears someone to me is more likely to be a shared sense of humor, sharing the same sense of what's funny and, very importantly, what isn't and what's "off limits," inappropriate for humor. On the latter, though I find obscene speech and gratuitous profanity offensive at some levels, I can put up with a lot of it and don't let it alienate me from its users; but blasphemy or crude irreverence is likely to make me turn tail and get away fast.

"Joking around" strikes me as the ideal warm-up for serious mements of conversation. This is probably why all of the best talk shows begin with a "monologue," a conversation between the show's host who does all the talking and his audience who, he hopes, does most of the laughing. We can probably think of preachers and professional speakers who use the same approach. As one who's been on the other side of the pulpit as a preacher a few times, and the teacher's rostrum even more often, I can say it works for the speaker as well, perhaps even better, than the audience. There's nothing like the feeling that you have an audience "eating out of your hand" to be able to wax loquacious, and nothing does that better than making them laugh.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

The positive side of life (second of two parts)

Most of us go to our graves with our music still inside of us.
You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.
Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened.
A truly happy person can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

—Sent by Mary Ann Losiewcz

Thought for today

Shelley wrote of the traveler who saw in the desert two vast and trunkless legs of stone and nearby a shattered face half-buried in the sand. On the pedestal where once the proud image had stood were engraven these words: "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair." And, says the poet, "Nothing else remains. Round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare the lone and level sands sretch far away." Shelly was right except for one thing: Something else did remain! It was God. He had been there first, to look in gentle pity upon the mad king who could boast so shamelessly in the shadow of the tomb. He was there when the swirling sands covered with a mantle of pity the evidence of human decay. God was there last!

—A. W. Tozer
Sent by Judy Martin

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