Chartres: In the beginning was communication
Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, has written a wonderful short piece on communication. For such a small number of words, he says a lot. Go read it, and I hope you’ll share it widely. Chartres must know that too many church leaders are resistant to modern communication methods. Even worse, many folks don’t see the need to communicate. It would be hard to come up with a better rationale for communication in the life of the church than this short essay.
A couple of brief excerpts. First, this one:
As a Christian believer I have always been humbled by the relative success of economists and scientists in developing a genuinely global conversation. By contrast those who represent the wisdom traditions in the world have been very slow to develop the institutions and interactions to permit profound mutual learning and encounter.
For the moment of course the possibilities opened up by the web are very novel. We are experimenting; playing with the toy box and things are moving so fast that even what we say together today is likely to look quaint in only a few years time. We have access to a vast range of knowledge and information to the point where one of my friends has requested that the inscription on her tombstone should read “she died of a surfeit of information”. As T.S.Eliot remarked in his chorus from the Rock “where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge; where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” It seems to me that generations following us will have to develop not only critical minds to sift the results of surfing but also a capacity to listen more profoundly in a hectic and distracted world.
I think he’s spot on. We need to try new methods, even with the full knowledge that we aren’t getting it right. And we need to learn new ways of listening just as we learn new ways of speaking.
As an aside, Bishop Chartres and I are chums. Ok, not really. But I did sit next to him one day on a bus at the Lambeth Conference. Even though he hangs out with the royal family, he was perfectly kind to this parson. He spoke and listened to what I had to say. Right. He’s a good communicator.
Tip of the iPhone to Len Freeman, a venerable communicator in his own right, for letting me know about this piece.