Listening too Carefully

Today in our Sunday meeting we were treated to two excellent talks, one by a recently returned missionary, the other from a high councilor (yes it was good). While I was inspired by both, I find I have developed a disease of sorts. I listen too carefully. This disease may have come upon me as a result of my work on the Joseph Smith sermons. I now *read* way too carefully (mostly because I have to compare published versions of a text – and reading for punctuation, capitalization, spelling, paragraphing, etc., etc., etc. is both irritating and unfortunately habitual). But also I find myself listening too carefully now.

By this I mean that I’m hypersensitive to construction, causative sequence, grammar and so on. I hasten to add that this problem has not made me a better speaker, as my students will happily witness. I noted that one of our speakers contradicted himself in a number of places in his speech and other issues probably revealed a lack of critical thinking. Remarkably, in the end, this did not detract from the value of the talk for me. I enjoyed it and it spoke to both my own strengths and deficiencies as a family member. I think I can safely say, the Spirit made the difference. To quote the song, it made “everything groovy.”

In editing Joseph Smith’s funeral sermons, I’ve discovered both the candor and kindness of his reporters and editors. They are both worthy things, but the latter causes me problems. ;) Happy Sunday.

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6 Responses to Listening too Carefully

  1. J. Stapley says:

    Happy Sunday to you too, WVS. I don’t think it has made me any better of a speaker either, though it does sometimes make me more careful, and often more regretful of things I say.

  2. Ardis says:

    We condition ourselves to hear certain things, don’t we? Bloggernacle talk has made me so conscious of the Sunday School Triad of “pray — read scriptures — attend church meetings” that when I hear them mentioned I start counting. In the three meetings of our ward conference today, the expected (and recited) answers to seven — count ‘em — seven queries by our stake visitors was “pray — read scriptures — attend church meetings.” (The single variation was a comic “pray — read scriptures — attend revelatory experiences.”) The answer to “how can we pray more effectively?” was “prayer” — the answer to “how can we get more out of scripture study?” was “read the scriptures.”

    When I listen so carefully that I notice and count the repetitions, I find that in order to keep my temper, much less get anything significant out of three hours of such repetitions, is to listen even more carefully and hear things that aren’t even spoken. What *about* prayer is the real answer to the question that was asked? How can studying the scriptures solve *that* problem?

    And I resolve not to ask questions as a teacher that can be answered with the Sunday School Triad. I probably won’t succeed, but maybe I can listen carefully enough to prod for more and elicit what class members really mean beyond the shorthand. It’s not easy, as either a listener or a speaker.

    • Surely the reason the three answers are ubiquitous is, well, they’re, er, ubiquitous?

      Mind you, that’s no excuse for failing to elaborate once someone has indicated compliance. Why not talk about studying through topics, structure, personality etc? Ah well.

  3. Ardis says:

    Read that previous response with more kindness than candor, and maybe you won’t notice the horrible sentences that changed direction midway …

  4. Paul says:

    I had a great experience today, too. I was in a ward in Mexico and found that I had to listen very carefully in order to understand even the basic feeling and theme of what the talks were about (preparing for a mission, tithing and raising good children). Your comment made me realize that for some time I have been listening in my home ward until I get bored and then in my head I start constructing my own talk on the speaker’s subject. I need to stop what I’m doing and listen to what the speaker has to say and understand his/her point of view. Happy Sunday to you and yours, WVS.

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