Redeeming How We Talk: Discover How Communication Fuels Our Growth, Shapes Our Relationships, And Changes Our Lives, by Ken Wytsma and A.J. Swoboda
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Moody Publishers/Net Gallery. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
This book is a bit frustrating as a missed opportunity, and that missed opportunity is largely the fault of the authors and their attempt to be relevant and to speak to many of the divides within contemporary mainstream Christianity. As I am familiar with the writing of at least one of the authors , I came in knowing his perspective and the fact that he was a representative of a left-wing false Gospel known commonly as the social gospel approach by which leftwing political views are given a light sprinkling of Christian terms and selective biblical citations and aspects of personal morality that leftists fall short on are ignored and marginalized as being unworthy of discussion or enforcement. Unfortunately, even if the message the authors deliver is a serious one about communication and our difficulties with this in our lives and in our times , the perspective and bias of the authors themselves makes this message difficult to take. This is a case where the message of the book would be far more welcome if the messengers were not so unacceptable.
This book of about 200 pages or so is divided into two parts. The first part of the book examines the world of words and examines such topics as the creative power of the world (1), the origin and development of propaganda (2), the challenge of connecting with other people in the digital age (3), a brief history of information (4), and a discussion of the unexplored places and blank spaces on maps and in relationships where there be dragons (5). The remaining seven chapters of the book look at the author’s view of the words of God, including such topics as Jesus’ speaking (6), what godly speech is (7), a discussion on the relationship between wisdom and words (8), the mechanics within the brain of speaking with each other (9), the unity of the church despite the diversity of its members (10), the art of winning people (back) to God (11), and some closing advise on how to speak better words (12). One wonders the extent to which the authors are aware that their past history, especially Wytsma’s, works against a sympathetic hearing to the message of this book. One thinks that the authors should have been aware that their own previous words are held against them when it comes to examining and evaluating this particular word even by those who would be sympathetic to the position of this book without the greater context of the authors’ political bias.
This book is at its best when the authors talk about the importance of communication and hearing others with respect, when they share a love for books and authors that I greatly appreciate, and when they talk about abstract concerns that are applicable in all times and in all situations with all people. This book is at its worst when the authors talk about their own political views and make false equivalences between different parties and different sides or when they show themselves as wannabe prophets who have not first gained the goodwill of their reading audience before bloviating about concerns as if they were knowledgeable experts about communicating well and behaving justly and fairly. Whether or not the best or worst parts of this book predominate depends on the reader. Those readers who are far more sympathetic to the authors’ political worldview than I am are likely to consider this book to be a good one, and perhaps to give themselves attaboys the way the authors appear to do frequently. Those readers who are hostile to the authors’ political biases are likely to find this book more than a little bit hypocritical and self-serving, but they would be wise to, insofar as it is possible, separate their distaste for the authors and their politics from the sound biblical wisdom of treating others with respect and love regardless of our feelings about them and our sharp differences of opinion.
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