The intersection between theology and Cluetrain rantings


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  Tuesday, May 27, 2003

In Small Pieces, Loosely joined, Weinberger describes "Corporate-speak" as "bizarre", and indeed it is.  I ask the question,  when does "religious or theological language" become more like "corporate speak"?  When does this organizational,  "lets please all people all the time" approach become a conversation killer? 

Companies talk in bizarre, stilted ways becuase they believe that such language expresses their perfection: omniscient, unflappable, precise, eleveated, and without accent or personality.  The rhetoric is as glossy and unbelievable as the photos in the marketing brochure.  Such talk kills conversation.  That's excatly why companies talk that way. (p.90)

I know of a church where the pastor constantly complained about emails being sent to all the members on an email list (which consisted of people who volunteered their email addresses in order to be INCLUDED in such mailings).  One member was keeping the list informed of various events of likely interest to some members of the congregation (this is a rather politically active congregation), and also on news about members,  and matters which involved asking for prayer.  The pastor instituted an "official email" statement on all emails sent to members , stating that this (and meaning "this and ONLY this") email is an OFFICIAL communication of churchname .  The pastor also confronted the "renegade", "unofficial" communicator of "unauthorized" emails on the matter,  complaining that the emails were unwanted.

Here we have a case where a Church "official" ;  a "pastor",  is opposing one of the earliest and still oft-used vehicles for carrying the "VOICE" which I believe is neccessary to a Church sounding human,  and not canned.  The "disclaimer" or "official" stamp on all Church email comes off very "authoritarian" and is putting itself in opposition to the mantra of the Web and online communications;  and places it squarely in the tradition of companies employing "corporate speak" as a way of minimizing public discourse.  This may not,  and is probably not,  even done as a conscious ploy to squelch anything,  but merely a transference of the mechanisms of "order" and "organization" tactics employed by the business world and the corporate culture.  But herein lies the problem.  Companies so "mimicked" are often not concerned with accentuating the voice of their constituents; their customers.  They are devoted to the "best practices" which a culture that has become cut off from what is human.  This is particularly troublsome when it works its way into Church management.  Indeed,  there is often a problem when "management" is the terminology used.  In Church communities,  conversation is not friendly to being "handled" or "managed".  Those very words smack of cover-up,  avoidance,  sweeping under the proverbial rug.  Sometimes even "open forums" are a "strategy" meant to "appease" or be an "opiate" rather than achieve doialogue or repentance and reconciliation.

There are many people who want to see open dialogue on public issues, political issues, a nd theological issues.  there are also people who want to find peronal, intimate dialogue.  I believe that both can be accomodated online (not exclusively,  but better "only there' than "nowhere";  and often online dialogue will lead to a breaking down of the face-to-face barriers to "breaching the subject",  because the online thread has given them permission to continue;  it has confirmed that this topic is not foreign or unwanted. 

8:20:09 AM    comment []

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