Quality better than quantity in conversations

Voices of Religion

Posted: Friday, January 20, 2006

I have a friend I haven’t had a decent conversation with in some time.

It’s not that we don’t like to talk, it’s that we get interrupted frequently. We speak in short and incomplete bursts of speech before we are interrupted again and again.

The signal that an interruption is on its way is the “Mexican Hat Dance” song. That’s his cell phone ringer.

I kind of hate that song. In the length of time it would normally take to walk to town and back — I live eight miles from town — I can only get, “How are you?” and “That’s nice,” in between all the calls this guy gets.

The one-sided conversations I hear go something like this, “Hey” — he has caller ID — “Cool,” “Serious?” “Awesome, dude!”

I have had a cell phone for quite a few years now. In fact I was one of the first of my friends to have one.

I had to own one as soon as the size of the phone became smaller than your average banana.

I like having a cell phone and plan to keep it.I still have the original plan I started with that gives me an entire 100 minutes a month.

It’s such an old plan that it isn’t offered anymore and my provider keeps nudging me toward larger and larger plans.

However, I don’t need a larger plan as this one takes care of all my cell phone-talking needs.

Imagine my shock when my friend mentioned his 500-minute plan was way too small and he was upgrading to a 1,200-minute plan.

Imagine his shock when I mentioned I still manage on less than 100 minutes a month.

OK, so I know I must be pretty miserly when it comes to talking on cell phones, but I was once again amazed when I opened the paper and read the advertisement of “unlimited” talk time.There must be a lot more to talk about than I thought.

I can hardly imagine the unseen flow of words that is streaming through the air as we drive through town.

If the words were visible as they passed through the air, it might block light from the sun.Air quality would be worse than Los Angeles smog.

Not very many years ago, in Kenai, there was one phone and everybody shared it.I guess there just wasn’t much to talk about then.

With the volume of words we speak increasing daily — I haven’t even mentioned regular phones, instant messaging or e-mail — I don’t think we have to be concerned that any quotas of words will be unfulfilled.Quantity looks like it is in the bag.

What we might consider is the quality of those words.

Solomon said, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver,” Proverbs 25:11 (NKJV).

I recently listened to a recording of the 20 greatest speeches of the 20th century.It is difficult to convey the power of the words that were spoken.

Words from Franklin Delano Roosevelt when Pearl Harbor was attacked, John F. Kennedy inspiring us to, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” Rev. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream”speech were words that continue to have great impact today.

None of the speeches was very long. The speeches aren’t considered great because they had a great number of words. Those speeches are considered great because they were the right words at the right time.

Many believe the greatest speech in American history is Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.”It has a total of 278 words.It can be recited in less than three minutes, yet in its economy of words the essence of the American dream is so aptly and powerfully conveyed.

The point I seek to make is not that we should talk less, but that we might consider the value of what we talk about.

The apostle Paul encourages us to, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one,” Colossians 4:6.

I have figured out a means of having an uninterrupted conversation with my friend.

I’m going to call him, even if I am standing next to him.

Awesome, dude.

Stephen Brown is a minister at the Kenai New Life Assembly of God, 209 Princess St., Kenai.

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