Showing posts from March, 2008

I believe ...

NPR has (or had, it may have been discontinued) a segment called "I believe." It features essays by various people, famous and not so famous, on a core belief they have. If I were to do one, it would believe, "I believe in story."

Story is especially important to public speaking. "Your ability to communicate is in direct proportion to your ability to tell a story." My freshman speech teach, Steve Euler, told us that, and it has stuck with me for over 30 years. Never forget the power of story, I tell my freshman (in an homage to fromage, it is reminiscent of the power of cheese commercial).

That being said, stories must be relevant; well told, that is, sufficiently detailed to engage the audience but not so detailed it takes so long and takes over the speech, and told with energy and timing; and placed correctly. Not all stories are public speaking appropriate. They must be practiced and their effectiveness not taken for granted. They must be base…

Real Purpose

What do I do for a living? In the tradition of St. Augustine, John Adams, and some great thinkers, I teach rhetoric, better known and dumbed down as public speaking. And this week I started a new, elective, one-hour class in 20th century American political rhetoric. I'm enjoying it, but as with any new course, it's a lot of work.

Since I named this blog partsofspeaking and since I teach public speaking for a living, it seems that I should have blog entries about public speaking. I surely do have a lot of wisdom on it, after 30 years of teaching.

Of course, the first thing people think of with public speaking is fear. I hesitate to say that I am often not all that empathetic or understanding about my students' fears. These young people have been told they are the center of the universe since they were babies--what terrifies them so about public speaking if they supposedly have great self-esteem? (Of course, self-esteem doesn't come from being told one is the cente…

Systematic Theology

Since 1976 I have been aware of and sometimes embroiled in the typical controversy of Calvinism/Arminianism (as if a Christian had to be one or the other), also known as the sovereignty of God vs. free will of man controversy (and who would win in that debate?) Why do people who hold to election say that they are Calvinists, when they have never read the Institutes and probably would have been imprisoned or executed in Calvin's Geneva?

I think it's silly for us to be using these terms and discussing doctrines as if (1) we had really studied them, (2) just because it was a theologian's position in the 16th century doesn't make it the end-all and be-all, and (3) we had to be so dichotomous about such positions. As I have noted in my former comments about conversativism, one should not have to lockstep. Critical thinking means nuance is necessary. I don't believe the Bible teaches Calvinsim nor do I believe that the Bible teaches against the foreknowledge and elect…

Memorial Stones

The Old Testament tells many stories of "called characters" (I'm not sure saints is the proper word for some of these folks) who set up stones as memorials. It's a wonderful concept. Our assistant pastor challenged us with this idea Wednesday night. The existence of a physical time and place with memories of how God touched us, shook us, got our attention, hugged us, or woke us up. Of course, being humans, we tend to either miss the point or get the point and miss the LORD. We start to worship the experience, or the stone, or our feelings about it, instead of the God who made the stones possible.

1993 was a horrible year for me. My hours and pay were cut dramatically, my husband was unemployed, we had no health insurance, my son "came down" with seizure disorder, we were living in a bad neighborhood, and my brother-in-law got out of rehab and came to live with us. After it was over, I started having post-traumatic stress and had some health problems. …

Latest happenings

What's been going on in my life?
1. I had my first colonoscopy two days ago and thankfully will not need to again for ten years.
2. I had the flu and a cold for two weeks.
3. I went to two academic conferences in two weeks.
4. LOST. It’s been five good episodes. These writers know how to yank our chains. I’m hooked and will stay with it to the last show. And oh, no, I found out we can watch it online now! That’s too tempting. However, I have nothing intelligent to say about the shows, no theories, no character analysis.
5. I haven't seen my son in eight weeks, but we are going to see him tomorrow.
6. I have been extraordinarily busy at work, putting in 50 hours plus a week, even when sick, and my head is spinning just to think about it. No wonder I'm tired. I haven't spent any time on creative writing.
7. Speaking of tired, now that it's down to Obama and Clinton and McCain, I'm having a hard time keeping interested. If Obama is elected, America will …

Theological Conundrums

One of the oldest and most divisive debates in the history of Christian theology (and probably of others) is that over the free will of man and the sovereignty of God. Greater minds than mine have tussled with the tension between these two clearly Biblical teachings, trying to reconcile them or at least keep them in balance. And usually we fail. I know I have. In 1976 I was introduced to reformation theology and it made sense to me, has made sense, for 32 years. To talk about the sovereignty of God is a redundancy. To be God He must be sovereignty. But in practical terms, I think we can take it too far.

This post comes out of studying Jacob. This cheater figured, I suppose (it’s really foolish to project our motivations on these Old Testament characters) that if his mother had been given a prophecy that the younger son would rule the older, then, shoot, why not make sure it happen? Why not hasten it? Does it matter if I am a cheater and a louse if ultimately God’s will happens…