Cooper & Cary Have Words

#162 Quick to Listen, Slow to Have Words

September 21, 2023 James Cary & Barry Cooper Season 1
Cooper & Cary Have Words
#162 Quick to Listen, Slow to Have Words
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

James and Barry discuss the art of listening. What does the Bible have to say about it? And how does it relate to anger? Are we bad at listening because it's a selfless thing to do? After all, there's no "I" in "LISTENING" is there? Oh wait.

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Production and music by Cooper & Cary. Opening theme by Beyond Our Galaxy.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Cooper and Kerry have words. My name's Barry Cooper. I live in a place called Deland in Florida. 4000 miles away from me, across the Atlantic, is my friend, james Kerry. We've known each other for what 30 years or so now and James is over there in Yoval's summer set. James, how's life?

Speaker 2:

Life is good. It's starting to be autumnal, which is great for me, because, although it's the end of the cricket season, it's the beginning of autumn, and I love autumn.

Speaker 1:

So that's all good. The smack of leather on Willow. It's a wonderful time of year, isn't it all round? Now, what is it? This is very much come off your bat, but just to continue the metaphor, and when I heard the subject, I thought, yeah, this definitely needs to be talked about. What is it that you wish to share with us today? What have you brought to show the class?

Speaker 2:

Well, I have brought listening, and particularly with reference to the verse in James, chapter one on which I recently preached a sermon, that we should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger, and there's an interesting kind of connection between those, and some people are already listening, just thinking, well, it's about time James Kerry listen to that advice. Being slow to speak, let the other guy get a word in edge ways. So I tend to think as I speak as well, so I'm a bit of a verbal processor, I think.

Speaker 1:

What drew you to that particular passage, or was it a sign to you?

Speaker 2:

It was a sign to me, but we've been doing a summer series in my church about our mouths, our ears, our I don't know feet.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, other parts of the body.

Speaker 2:

I don't remember? Yeah, spleen, no idea. There's plenty of that. And although actually this most recent Sunday we did mouth as well, which we will also hopefully get onto, because it's talking about also in James chapter three I think was it four I've got it here somewhere James three, where James doesn't think much of our ability to speak either, so it's a bit of a wow, you guys are the worst.

Speaker 2:

So I thought it'd be good to talk about that, because I think it really did surprise me once I looked at the verse, particularly in context as well, the fact that it links listening to being slow to anger. I thought well, this could be an interesting chat and I'd be interested in your initial take on it. I mean, I wrote a sub stack about it which we can link to in the show notes as well, and as you read it, maybe what jumped out at you.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, I was just going to say just in passing, if you're not on James's sub stack, make sure you get on there, because he's turning out great material on there, week by week as well, worth reading. And what is James essentially saying then? James is he saying listen, chums, you've got two of these, you got one of these. Just you know, take a, take a hint from nature. What, what exactly is going on here? Help us to dive deeply into this.

Speaker 2:

Well, firstly, james I think is a fascinating book because it doesn't sound like the others. I think it's really interesting how James has got a different tone as well, luther would agree with you.

Speaker 2:

So, yes, that's right, he has his own reservations about it. But James, who we think is the brother of Jesus in the case, in this case I would say James is the book that sounds most like Jesus's words and talking, because the way Paul talks and the way Jesus talks actually sounds quite different in terms of tonally and stylistically and conceptually, is well, in terms of abstract theology, whereas James sounds like halfway between Jesus, particularly in the Beatitudes and Proverbs. There's lots of wisdom tightly packed together, but it's not just sort of fire hosed out although that would be fine if it were. But, in particular, what struck me was the context of this verse is the idea that we don't want to be double minded.

Speaker 2:

I think that's the theme of James. Don't be tossed around by different opinions and different feelings. You want to be rooted, and one way in which that happens and boy, we need to hear this now, in an age of anger is the fact that do you know what it starts with listening, which I thought was a very surprising place to start. So there's lots of preamble in chapter one where James is unpacking. You know the fact that we do need to be much more rooted and not blown around, but that we are easily blown around. I think.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and presumably if we're getting angry, just looking at James, chapter one, verse 19, and following here, if we're getting angry, we are not. And not only we're not listening, but we're also not doing, we're not acting on the words that we hear. Because he seems to be making a connection here, doesn't he, between you, know? He says verse 22, but be doers of the word and not hearers only. So there's a connection not only with being angry and not listening, but then, of course, being angry and not actually obeying God's word.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and we do see that, don't we? Anecdotally, I think, pastorally, the most difficult conversations you have with people pastorally is you feel that quite often there's a hostility there, which means that they're just not really hearing you or, for that matter, more importantly, hearing God's word, and they're getting into a spin as a result of it. Just words, but good words. That's where ideas begin. Maybe you should listen to them. Is the solution to this? Then, going straight to the solutions here, what would you say to someone who struggles to listen when they are just in everyday conversation with people? Because that does seem to be a thing, doesn't it? The thing, where people are just thinking of what they're going to say next rather than actually really being in the moment listening. I mean, how is there a way we can get into the? Get better at that?

Speaker 2:

Well, yeah, I think one way he says by not answering your question is to take an extra step back and just think about the diet that's going in through our ears. So we're pretty obsessed with the diet that goes in through our mouths, but what do we? What are we listening to? We don't actually switch our ears off at any point. I think that's quite significant, and if you're a podcast listener, it may be that you spend an awful lot of time listening to podcasts that you either violently agree with or violently disagree with, or you're sort of just trying to consume and audit information as fast as possible. And these are all fine things to do. You know, we need a balanced diet, both through our mouths but also through our ears, and I think one thing that I've really noticed recently is that I do need to stop listening to anything and just let myself think and not constantly require input. That therefore requires how do I feel about this? How do I feel about this?

Speaker 2:

And so you know, yesterday I drove three hours in a car and I listened to a. I listened to a the Daily Prayer app, the Church of England Daily Prayer app, for the first 20 minutes, which has got it's mostly Bible, liturgy, psalms, readings, lecture, new readings and that kind of thing collect. And then I listened to a podcast, which is actually a productivity podcast I think it was the Cal Newport one that I quite like and then my brain started working. But then I just switched off all audio and for about an hour and a half I was just thinking. I didn't even have music on. So I think in a way, we need to learn how to just take a step back, listen, think.

Speaker 2:

You know, I try to go to go for a walk most days and it's really easy to take headphones with you and listen to a podcast or listen to an audio book or listen to something, listen to the radio, even listen to music, and it's like nature's got a soundtrack. Could try that. The birds are there, there's the sound of wind rustling. So I think in a way, we're so overly cranked for listening but also speaking that when we're in a one-on-one situation with someone, suddenly you know we might be channeling our inner Ben Shapiro or whatever it is or whoever your demagogue of choice. And that's not great, is it? Do you find yourself trying to just listen to less? A bit, barry.

Speaker 1:

I think that's a really good point. We're very good, aren't we? Just ingesting lots of information, and I think, in the internet age, with smartphones, of course, with constant notifications we've been very much trained to be like that, and I think you're exactly right it doesn't really leave much room for processing, sifting, evaluating, meditating upon. I think that's all. I think that's. That's absolutely right.

Speaker 2:

Cobra and Carrie have words.

Speaker 1:

It is interesting that, reading on a little bit the metaphor that James uses, he says he looks at he's talking about a man who's a hero but not a doer. He says he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. So that's, that's a picture of somebody who kind of gets information about themselves but then immediately it's kind of gone, it's not allowed to really settle, and I think that's exactly what you're talking about really Pun intended.

Speaker 2:

There is no period of reflection. Yes, exactly right in this metaphor, you're not looking in the mirror to see if you look all right. You don't look all right. That's a given. And therefore, if you're reading God's word and you're not doing it, if you're not compelled to take action, you're not looking, you're not reading, you're not listening, you're not hearing. I think that might be the sense of that image that's going on there.

Speaker 2:

So in a way are you know if, if we're actually listening to it, it should stir up in us thoughts and ideas? And the yeah, the point that I made in my talk was uh, we're quick to listen and slow to speak, and the reason I think James says that is because, once you're speaking, the listening is now over and you want to be very careful that you haven't overlooked what they're actually saying or even worked out why they're saying what they're saying and that what they're saying isn't actually quite what they mean. There's some subtext going on here.

Speaker 1:

I remember reading a biography of Stanley Kubrick years and years ago, and the quote that I remember underlining a zillion times, as which he just said in passing he said there's a way. Kubrick said there's a way of talking about problems which makes you feel like you've solved them. And I think there's something of that in this whole question of listening. We can, we can listen to God's word and be so full of the data that we think we are going great guns in the Christian life, but we haven't actually acted on it and therefore our maturity is not there. And I hate to draw your attention to this, but in the Pilgrims progress James, there's a character called Trigger warning. Yeah, trigger warning.

Speaker 1:

There's a character called talkative. See if you can have a guess of what he's like. Anyway, talkative is somebody who knows all of the theology, like he's a terrific evangelist. He understands the need for the new birth, he understands the gospel, the need for repentance, you name it, but he hasn't acted on it. And so the really scary thing about that character, talkative, of course, is that he talks a really good fight, he's convinced of his own spiritual security, but the text makes it very clear that he is heading on the path to damnation. So I think that might be a particular danger actually for reformed guys and girls and let's face it, I really mean guys here because we love to accumulate information that we really are so big on the theology. Theologies are really important, caviar, but we spend so much time talking about it and batting it around and stroking our beards that we don't actually do it. So there's a way of talking about theology which is not actually making any difference to us at all. Do you think that's fair?

Speaker 2:

Oh, totally yeah. And we've all read Bible commentaries by non-Christians which don't seem to take the text seriously at all. It just seems to be commentary. It just seems to be literally commentary. There's nothing. And good commentaries do give you the comment and that's fine. But actually a really good Christian commentary does really make your heart sing and does make you want to change something in your life and that's really important. I mean, it is hard, isn't it? Especially if you're called to a theological ministry where you do need to deep dive and do this stuff. But actually and I think that maybe is also where those warning signs for going back to that Ravi Zacharias incident that someone who was talking, talking, talking, talking on a stage, talking, talking, talking he wasn't actually sitting under the preaching of the word in a church that was then challenging him on the doing.

Speaker 3:

And once we found out what he was doing it wasn't pretty. Can't you make them understand?

Speaker 1:

They wouldn't listen to me, they're pretty mad.

Speaker 3:

Then I'll talk to them myself.

Speaker 1:

You also drew attention to when we were talking about this before, and I think this is obviously a connection here. Jesus is parable of the soil sometimes, but it's really about the soils, isn't it? Rather than the sower in Mark, chapter four. What do you think?

Speaker 2:

I don't know. I've just read a really good commentary on this. I'm marching my way slowly through Mark's Gospel with the.

Speaker 2:

Pillar New Testament commentary on it. It's really helpful, by a guy called Edwards, I think, and what struck me the first time on this and we'll get onto the listening in a moment. What's surprising that you sort of don't even notice is why is the farmer scattering seeds on the path and stony ground and among the thorns? What's he doing? Why is he doing that? You don't have enough seeds to do that. This is a profligate sower of seeds.

Speaker 3:

Right.

Speaker 2:

And what I mean by that is in the first century AD. You need to sow a field.

Speaker 1:

You had piles through that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you're keeping back some crop from the last year and then you're sowing it. So this commentary makes the argument partly that the first time it's said before the parable is then explained, because it almost seems to shift slightly between the telling and the explanation as well. But the profligacy of the farmer sowing the seed is almost like Jesus just doing all this stuff in his earthly ministry. He's healing the sick, he's driving out demons quite a lot and he's teaching and people aren't really getting it and it looks like he's kind of wasting his time. What are you doing? So I think there's a sense in which the sower is slightly more significant than I had previously thought, and I thought that was quite an interesting observation which I throw in as a bit of a sidebar have you noticed that before.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, I do think there's an obvious parallel there isn't there to the nature of Christ's ministry, that the Gospels constantly draw attention to his audiences and how mixed they are, you know, when there's a transition between talking to the crowd at large and talking to the disciples. So there's an obvious parallel there isn't there between the sowing of the seed just everywhere. In a profligate way, he's speaking to those who presumably he knows will come to him, but he's also speaking to those, inevitably because they're all mixed together in the same crowd, who will not. And the parable itself is, obviously, when he's explaining it to the disciples, he specifically draws attention to the fact that he's speaking in parables, so that we'll get into this. I'm sure that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven. So there's an awareness that there will be people who listen, who don't actually hear, and act on it.

Speaker 2:

And I think that's quite a common theme in Mark. I'm learning and you would know you've written a Christian Explore course based on Mark but the crowd is gathering in that first half of Mark in particular. But the crowd don't seem to be. They're kind of more gawping and they're following, but they're not really listening. And as Jesus gathers his disciples who are a very, very unlikely bunch, if we're honest mostly Galilean fishermen they're not the dream team if you were picking teams, but he works with them in a particular way, and so it sounds like it's not really fair that Jesus is telling these people what it really means, and all the bozos out there aren't really listening. But there's something about listening, isn't it? And so that whole section ends after the light on a lampstand. Stuff. Mark 24, Mark 4,.

Speaker 2:

Consider carefully what you hear. He continued with the measure you use. It will be measured to you, and even more. Whoever has will be given more, and whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And again, we find that so troubling and difficult. We get that in a parable, in one of the Gospels too, doesn't it? Take his talent and give it to the one who has five. What, what are you doing? That's not very Christian, but what that parable is, I guess, showing as well, is that this person doesn't know, isn't interested in handling what he has, and some of that is the listening to Jesus and making the most of it, leaning into it, puzzling on it, thinking about it and then going back for more. I think.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think that's exactly it. I think the reason why Jesus teaches in parables is because he doesn't want people to just come at it his teaching at a superficial level. He doesn't want the guy saying, come on, come on, just give me the bullet points, then I can get on with my life. It's specifically couched in such a way that it positively, not only does it reward deeper reflection these parables that were still puzzling over 2,000 years later but it positively demands it. And when you think about the initial audience, they're only hearing this once. They don't have notes to refer to afterwards.

Speaker 1:

So Jesus' injunction to listen. I mean you probably noticed this. It's actually it bookends the parable. He starts in verse 3 by saying listen and then at the end, in verse 9, he says he who has ears to hear, let him hear. So again and again there's this stress of listen. You have to really concentrate here and go deep with it. You cannot be on autopilot. You have to give all your bandwidth to this in order to really take from it what I want you to take from it.

Speaker 2:

Boy, you guys are not sucking me into the story at all. I'm just telling you for your own benefit. I'm very aware that I'm watching a play right now. Whilst we're on the subject of my sub-stack, which I guess we kind of were, I did have a bit of a rant back in July last year, so if you look up JamesCarriesubstackcom, you'll find my sub-stack. I'll put a link in the notes. But I wrote an article called the York Notification of Stories.

Speaker 3:

Right. So York Notes, because I'm a bit of an age Cliff Notes we have over here.

Speaker 1:

Cliff Notes.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, it's like, just give me the Cliff Notes. It's like, well, that's not going to work. And so there are these services as well that read you the headlines of these non-fiction books, in particular Summarizers. What's that one called? There's you know, I think even Cal Newport mentions them too. What's it called oh?

Speaker 1:

I know exactly what you're.

Speaker 2:

They're these sort of services that just say, hey, we'll condense everything for you because you're, like, really busy.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, don't waste time reading books. We'll tell you what they say.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but as someone who's written some books, if someone just says, just give me the headlines, it's like, well, no, I didn't just give you the headlines, because if I could have just given you the headlines, I would have given you the headlines. I didn't write 55,000 words so I could skin you for nine quid. That's not how it works. And also, would you like the Cliff Notes of Pride and Prejudice? Or would you like to read Pride and Prejudice? Yeah, this whole Hamlet thing. Just give me the gist. Yeah, because that will be the same.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's, the Woody Allen joke is near about. I did a speed reading course. I read War and Peace. It's about Russia. It's like, yeah, you could certainly get the bones of it, but it isn't going to change you, it isn't going to go inside you. And this is where I think we segue, if I may, to.

Speaker 2:

Just so I found the link before you segue. I wrote a post called Down with Executive Summaries and that was in March of this year. Blinklist and Headway were in my target on that one. I just thought, because at one point I'm the sort of person that would sign up for that, because, as we sort of said, I'm auditing information all the time. Just give me the headlines, give me the headlines.

Speaker 1:

It's like Well, I'm going to throw a little wrinkle in here and say that maybe there are some books where actually it's entirely appropriate to boil them down, because the person who wrote it is simply in the business of imparting information. They have no styles to speak of, there is no deep wisdom to speak of. It's not a Christian parable, it's a Whatever it is. It's a management consultancy type deal and a lot of those are, I think, pretty shallow and you could probably just get the bones of it and be on your way. But, as you say, if we're talking about pride and prejudice, I don't know. Yes, I think in the sense, sometimes, even when it's incredibly shallow, just the fact that it's taking you time to read it is helpful, like I get that it slows you down but also they will have illustrations.

Speaker 2:

They will explain to you firstly why you need to know this information. Then they will give you the information, they will illustrate the information and then they will summarize it and maybe apply it. And so you're just kind of missing out and, in a way, if you want to get an executive summary of something and I've read executive summaries of very long Church of England reports that are 170 pages, and I'll just read the executive summary, that's only 33 pages or whatever, and it means that I can now, if I'm interested in a particular thing, I'll go and look for it in the overall report, but that's but it is a bit of a both-and I just think that's fair and I think the segue I was going to talk about here is it's very interesting that God's maybe you guys will get into this when you're doing the mouth in your sermon series but it's very interesting that the metaphor that's being used for really hearing God's word so that you act on it is eat it.

Speaker 1:

Eat God's word. So the metaphor is God's word. Is honey Sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb that swamps on 19? How sweet are your words? Words to my taste sweeter than honey to my mouth.

Speaker 1:

I II, god's word, is meant to be Internalized. It's meant to become a part of you, like food, so that it changes you. You don't benefit from food if all you do is look at it, admire it, maybe just roll it around on your tongue and then spit it out. Discussing it is not enough. You have to swallow it and that sort of takes. The mastic Asian takes time. The swallowing takes time. Yeah, like it, you know it becoming a part of you.

Speaker 1:

And that, I think, is partly why Jesus instituted the Lord supper as a sacrament. He didn't just say remember that this happened. Yeah, he's saying here, here is food, here's a cup his bread, you eat it, hmm, and you take it in deep inside yourself. What is that except a profound metaphor about what Jesus wants us to do with him, which is to To believe in him in such a way that he enters into us by his spirit and changes us the way that food changes us? You know, there's a, there's something profound that's happening there which I think makes bread and wine, you know, particularly appropriate food as appropriate as a metaphor.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, think, yeah, I think that's really helpful. I think, therefore, if we're treating Scripture as something to be decoded and then mastered, and then sort of your your cliff noted as it, were Hurgitated.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah then that really isn't what it's for, and actually this is another point I make is that we should therefore listen to God's word, and the most normal way of doing that, historically speaking over the last 2000 years, is through our ears. So affordable, disposable Bibles are Pretty recent, because, although printing was invented in the 1500s, paper was still quite expensive for quite a long time, and even into the 1800s you might have a family Bible which probably cost several hundred pounds in in that money that you would then pass down through the generations and somebody would read from it and you would listen to it. So the art, so having it on your phone and, of course, in some cut, in some cultures, the Bible is still being translated into People with, into cultures that don't have it in their original language. Yeah, so we we really mustn't take this for granted, that we've got it written down. That's again quite a new thing.

Speaker 1:

It can kind of make it seem less precious content that the ubiquity of it. Yeah, I think this is. I think this is one of the reasons why people get obsessed with vinyl. Now there's no real reason for using vinyl. I was really Inconvenient to get it get scratched and dusty. You got to pull it out the sleeve, put it down, but the stylus on which is very finicky.

Speaker 1:

But whenever I hear people talking about why they do this, why they're obsessed with vinyl, it is the whole Experience means that in doing this you're really focused on the album as a whole. The journey is a whole from start to finish, whereas in a digital Spotify, apple Music world it's kind of all about the singles and it's very atomized and you don't get that's. Not only do you not get the lovely big artwork and the sleeve notes and all the rest of it, but you just don't sit there typically for 45 minutes and give your attention to a single album. It's like, just listen to, I'm gonna make my own mix tape of stuff that I'm grabbing from all over the place. Yeah, and it's quite. I can I get why people like vinyl.

Speaker 2:

For that reason, yeah, yeah, I think that's really interesting parallel as well, because I I use music when I'm working, but I'll listen to an Apple Music playlist like Beat Strummental, where every track on it sounds relatively similar to the one before. Yeah, I've not heard of any of the artists and I couldn't tell you what any of the songs are. The artists all have odd names, the songs all have fairly arbitrary names, and so therefore I'm not really listening to that music.

Speaker 2:

It's just something that's on, and the worry is that we, if we treat God's word like that oh, I just like to have it on in the background. Yeah, that's right.

Speaker 3:

It's like oh.

Speaker 1:

Pretty sure.

Speaker 2:

James didn't want that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah. So I think what I'm hearing you say, james, it's quite a good thing to say in conversation, isn't? It very good, very good. Um, there's listening and there's listening. There's chess, there's a game of chess Language, and their speech and there's speech.

Speaker 2:

That's right? Um, there's, there's chess and there's a game of chess.

Speaker 1:

There's a biblical sense of listen and it actually the ESP is interesting. That translates James chapter 1, verse 19 Be quick to hear rather than listen. And I think even in English it slightly captures the difference between listening to something and really hearing something. The listening is just okay, this is information going in, but it's like it's just on in the background and the hearing is alright. I'm really taking this in and it's it's changing me in some way and I'm now acting on what I am hearing, and I think that is a distinction which Scripture makes again and again, isn't it? There's there's a difference between listening and hearing, just listening and and doing.

Speaker 2:

You know yeah, I mean, for me it's slightly the other way around. I think hearing something is not listening, I think you're not listening to me, as in you're hearing the words as I'm saying, but you're not listening. Yeah, the words mean. So I'm not convinced that one or other is necessarily the granular version of the general version, but I and that's what I'm hearing, I don't know if that is that what you're not saying, that add a sort of a Greek or Hebrew level.

Speaker 1:

It necessarily means two things, I think.

Speaker 2:

But I do know there's a difference.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I think the way they've tried to translate it, I don't know be interesting to see how most people would Understand the word listen and the word here. But you're right, listen. When you're talking to children, you do say no, no, no, no, listen, look at me, listen, listen, yeah, so yeah, and they're sort of struggling and trying to get over and reach the chocolate biscuit or one of that, and they're just, they're not taking it in. Yeah quite.

Speaker 2:

This puts me in mind of One of the more positive experiences I've had at the general synod of the Church of England During these exercises where we were, where we don't actually look at the Bible to understand human sexuality Because it still says what it's always says and it's it's pretty clear and we can keep checking back to see if it's changed. No, it's the same.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but we can now try and pretend that it's not clear. But one of the things that we did do which I thought was really helpful is we were in split up into groups and then to smaller groups in a three and you the. The lesson was to say how you felt about this exercise. There was an awful lot of how do you feel about this, how are you feeling about this? Okay, how do you think that went? Oh, oh, was that it? We didn't, oh, we didn't Talk about it. We just talked about how worried we are about talking about it and then reflected on how we felt about it, but so in a way that the actual exercise itself was was not helpful generally.

Speaker 2:

But there's one thing where they said what you have to do is you have to listen to this person, say how they feel about it and then summarize it back to them to show that they are happy With your, that you've understood what they're saying. It's I did. It's called active listening or something like that. So I would you know. So I would say it's very frustrating to me that we're trying to talk about human sexuality when the Bible to me seems extremely clear and Blah, blah, blah, blah and someone say James is Is very sure that the Bible is very clear on this and so they, whether they agree with me or not, they're just trying to Highly. And I would say to somebody this person doesn't understand why we're having this discussion when, for her, if the church teaches this, then this is something that the church should believe and that the laity are not really meant to be questioning.

Speaker 2:

I was, I became quite good friends with that, with a fairly high Angler Catholic at the time, and actually she was, you know, delightful and we had an awful lot in common. But it was a really interesting exercise to do that and it's it's not just steel manning, which I think is another good habit that people now say about giving the best version of an opponent's case. But just to say, have I understood you correctly? Can I just summarize back to you what you've said to me just to make sure that I've heard it before I respond to it now, that takes time and people don't want to do it, and also it might be more challenging to do that because you then have to understand, yeah, what they're saying. But can you? Have you ever had to do that kind of thing?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I think it's really good practice. I mean, given the noetic effects of sin, that it sin effects not only the way we no etic no etic you want.

Speaker 2:

For me, that is the word of the podcast.

Speaker 1:

No way we go no etic, which, if I'm on, if I'm understanding that right, means you know that sin affects every part of us, including the way that we kind of intellectually process things with our minds. So, yes, the way that we listen is affected by sin, the way that we then articulate ourselves affected by sin. So I think anything we can put in there to try and alleviate or minimize the effects of sin in communication I think it's a great idea and it's just good to know you've been heard, isn't it? And just, there's nothing worse than wasting two hours Debating with someone. You're both talking past each other.

Speaker 1:

It's just it's just doesn't serve anybody. So yeah, I think that is. I think that is a good thing to do.

Speaker 2:

Something just came to mind. It's something that I'm talking to some guys about tonight and, and you know, when you you look into a passage and again, just backing up once more, sometimes we get we get angry with God that the Bible is not clear, or we get angry with God because of what he's like, because we haven't actually read what it says, we haven't actually listened to what he is like, and so we know what on earth am I supposed to do? And so I had that very briefly, with Jesus's arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14 and and so.

Speaker 2:

I've. I've got a little idea for a, for a book or something possibly called running away naked, based on, potentially, mark, who is the Person following Jesus who is grabbed by his linen as Jesus is arrested and he leaves the linen behind and runs away naked, and it's a wonderful sort of illustration of cowardness and all of the worst things that I think particularly men are frightened of. That. That's going to be them, and the flip side of that is the disciple who we later learn is Peter in the other Gospels, but Mark doesn't name him as the one who you know right, yanks out a sword and slices off a servant's ear.

Speaker 2:

And it was only when I was talking to my kids about it this morning. I I said Well, what was he supposed to do? So the guy with the sword is thinking well, I'm not having this, he's got a sword, he's going to use it. You're not arresting Jesus. That's wrong. And just thinking. And again, as I often say, what was Adam supposed to do in the Garden of Eden With the when the snake comes? But on this particular instance I was thinking I Don't know, how am I supposed to know? I don't know. And then I realized what he probably should have done? He should have listened to Jesus.

Speaker 3:

Hmm.

Speaker 2:

He should have said what do you want me to do, rather than I'm going to almost kill someone. You know, if you cut off someone's ear, you're going for the head. I mean, that's that's a kill shot, isn't it?

Speaker 3:

That's not, I know I should very carefully Like one of the three musketeers you know, sort of whisk off their ear and threaten See like it's the princess bride.

Speaker 2:

No, I'll start with your ears and I'll tell you why. You know, whatever it is.

Speaker 1:

Do you think that's significant? It's just funny. Interesting all this chat about listening and hearing. Yeah he takes off an ear. I mean, I just wonder whether we're talking about how Peter should have reacted. But how should the high priest servant have reacted? Well, should have listened to Jesus, shouldn't he? And as a result of not listening Jesus, well, sorry, we're even. That's going to be taken from you.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, off comes his ear, you know off comes an ear, although Jesus in John puts it back. Yes yes, yes, but yeah, no, that's interesting, isn't it? Of all the, of all the things, it's, it's an ear.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, he's that is sliced off and you could.

Speaker 2:

But you can imagine it sort of sort of sitting there on the ground and then he gets another one. Just imagine looking at your discarded ear but knowing that you've got another one, and what are you gonna do? You know that's something for the kids, isn't it?

Speaker 3:

That's right.

Speaker 1:

That's why God gave you two.

Speaker 2:

Yes exactly in case, in case Peter cuts one off. Yeah, it's one of those ones where you think, well, what were the disciples meant to do?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and actually Ask Jesus, listen to the answer and then do it, because he's got this, and that is something that we're not prepared to do, and so I think sometimes we get frustrated with the Bible because it doesn't say what we would like it to say, yeah, or it doesn't say in a way that we would like it to say it, or why isn't it clearer? Or why is this genealogy here? Why is this interminable list of things? Why is the second half of Joshua so incredibly boring? And, before you know it, we're now angry with God. We're slow to listen to his word, we're quick to speak back to him, and now we're angry, and I would recommend that you don't get angry with God. I don't think that's a good. I don't think that's a good look, and it's interesting.

Speaker 2:

No good can come from that yeah and it's and I love how James says essentially Not essentially he does say Because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Hmm and I know our mutual friends Bran Hansen. He essentially says yeah, this whole righteous anger, Hmm, you keep using that word.

Speaker 3:

I don't think it's as righteous as you think it is. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

He didn't follow. Inconceivable. You keep using the word. I don't think it means what you think it means.

Speaker 1:

And the other application that occurred to me as you were speaking is that Peter says doesn't he have Paul's teaching? He does say some things that are hard to understand. Hmm, okay, why Supposed to be God's word? Why doesn't God just tell people what he wants them to do in, you know, words of one syllable? So we all get it. Why the difficult stuff?

Speaker 1:

And I think the answer to that is that we're meant to wrestle with it. And again we're back to the parables thing. God communicates to us in such a way that we can't go great, thanks for the propositions. I'll run off. I'll just run with that. I don't really need to think about this. He deliberately writes in such a way that we have to make like Jacob and wrestle with it. And in wrestling with it, yes, it's going to put our hip out of joint, but that's the point. It's been written like that so that it slows us down in our natural sin and our worldliness, so that we have to internalize it, so that we have to eat it slowly, because that's the only way it's going to change us. So I think the, the elogist talk about the perspicacity of scripture. That it's, you know, it's meant to be easy to understand. Well, scripture itself does say that bits of it are hard to understand, and that is by design.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's a feature, it's not a bug.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'll put it up for the Patreons, because I wrote something at the Keswick Convention which is about people in parables being relatively unhappy with how they've been treated, and but the overall point of that, which people found intently, hopefully, amusing, was that the fact that these parables are strange and troubling and difficult to understand means that we're just going to keep coming back to them time after time and that they are just like the good wine is the stuff that actually doesn't taste, maybe so good the first time you have it, or once you develop a taste for something, then suddenly there are extra things, and that's the case whether it's due with a single malt whiskey, or whether you're into all different types of food or cured meats, or it's an acquired taste. It's an acquired taste and I think that's a good thing, and there's a perfectly good moment to have a glug of something that you like and it tastes good straight away.

Speaker 2:

But actually you get bored of that, and so I think again. Maybe scripture isn't as perspicacious as it could be. Maybe that's another word of the podcast.

Speaker 2:

It's more like perspex than glass, because it's something that you are pro, that you have been made to live with for your entire life. So we've not been given 60 pages that you've pretty much nailed by your mid 20s or into your 30s. This is a long and complicated library of books, and the more I read and think, the more I think oh, this connects to that or does it, I don't know. It's sort of connects in a way and it sort of doesn't. As I was reading the Gethsemane moment, I was thinking, oh, it feels like the Garden of Eden here because there's a temptation that Jesus is the second Adam, and he could use his power to defeat these people, but he doesn't.

Speaker 2:

There's a kiss. There's nakedness at the end. I couldn't put my finger on exactly.

Speaker 1:

Well, jesus obeys the Father where Adam does not obey the Father. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

There's no one slam dunk bit of.

Speaker 2:

Oh, this is obviously that which you do get in other passages where it's like, well, okay. This is one the other day about reading in Esther, where it just is exactly like the death of John the Baptist, where Herod says I will give you anything up to half of my kingdom, and it's like, oh, okay. So sometimes you do get those big clanging things, although most of these we don't know because we don't know our Bibles, because we don't read them and we don't listen to them. And maybe that's one last thing to think about is the Bible is available in audio. It's free on the ESV app, read by two different people a North American man and a Northern Irish woman who I think is Christine Getty, and there's other, like other Bible apps. You can get John Sushé reading it, although I think we all have read it like Poirot?

Speaker 2:

Why? Why don't we listen to the Bible?

Speaker 1:

Well, if you get speechify which I have you can have the whole Bible read to you in the voice of Snoop Dogg. So there's really no excuse, is there no excuse?

Speaker 2:

I would like it read in the voice of Rowan Atkinson, and then I'd remember. I've often jokes in the past.

Speaker 3:

If you get him to say Zerubbable, then I'm all in and now I could, and I get Rowan Atkinson because of AI.

Speaker 2:

Oh wow, this is a whole new. This is a whole new era in my life, potentially.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, wasn't it Whitfield who was said, I think, by Benjamin Franklin, to be able to pronounce a particular word in such a way that Benjamin Franklin said he would just give everything to be able to speak, as he did, just said a single word. It was something like Zerubbable. One of our listeners will remind me of what it is.

Speaker 2:

Or Zerubbable or something Exactly it's something like that. Yeah, but why don't we want to do it? Why, well?

Speaker 3:

I think it's a bit.

Speaker 2:

We love the word and audio junkies like me and frankly, probably half a listeners of this podcast, if not most of them. Yeah, do you want to listen to actual gods inspired and inerrant word read? Really well, no, thanks, I'll listen to some demagogue. Make me feel good about why I don't like certain groups of people.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think the answer is in your question there, isn't it James?

Speaker 3:

We are awful people, that's why?

Speaker 1:

Well no, it just it makes me feel good. I mean that's the thing, isn't it? And I think the problem. I mean it's like we don't really want to go to the gym because it's hard work. I think the Bible's a bit like that.

Speaker 2:

And we don't want to look in the mirror, yeah.

Speaker 1:

At the very least, like I'll go to the gym and maybe I'll sort of hang around a bit and go to the calf or whatever. But actually drawing a sweat, you know, heaven forbid, but that.

Speaker 2:

I can work up a sweat in the sauna, so I'll do that. I'll love it.

Speaker 1:

Go in the plunge pool or whatever, bubble around a bit. But that's the thing, isn't it? I think God's word has been written to make us sweat in lots of different ways. These are the heavy weights we have to lift if we want our muscles to get bigger, but most of us are just like people who want to get fit without going to the gym. Yeah, it's just no good.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

It's Mesopotamia, it's Mesopotamia, that's the word, oh.

Speaker 2:

OK, oh interesting.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, looking for a refreshing summer cocktail, why not try a Cooper and Carey? Simply mix one ounce of middle-aged regret, a squeeze of barely-contained cynicism and a shot of predestination. But please enjoy responsibly.

Speaker 1:

This reminded me of the CS Lewis thing about nobody really wants to read Plato. They just want to read what people have said about Plato. And he says it's just as easy to read Plato. You've already got Plato, just do the Plato. Yeah, and it's true, isn't it you?

Speaker 2:

already have Plato.

Speaker 1:

Come on, just do it. It was said that George Whitfield could utter the word Mesopotamia. It says here, so that the entire crowd wept. That would be good, wouldn't it? Does that sound credible? I suppose it is. If the Holy Spirit's involved, let's face it.

Speaker 2:

You would have to be to make people weep at the word Mesopotamia. What a bizarre word to use.

Speaker 1:

Can you think of a single word that you would say? If you wanted to make an entire crowd weep? What would the word be? Taco Bell is two words. That's not.

Speaker 2:

Good evening. Oh no, not him yeah that's right, it's me. It's me. Yeah, that's right Welcome.

Speaker 1:

Folks, we're going to natter a bit more for the benefit of our esteemed Patreon supporters and Cooper and Kerry Plus listeners. If you want to get in on that and come on, why wouldn't you hit the subscribe button in Apple Podcasts or go to Cooper and Kerry Patreon? We'll put a link in the show notes and for a really small and reasonable fee you can enjoy that and our Discord server and extended episodes and advanced episodes and all sorts of good stuff.

Speaker 2:

And my extra bonus content of that parable that I wrote oh yeah, of that thing that I wrote about parables which is not available anywhere else and I'm not going to sub-stack it. So there it is.

Speaker 1:

There's a CNC exclusive, so get on that If you just want to. You don't want to mess around with all of that, but you do want to berate us soundly. You can email us kuperankerryatgmailcom. We'd be happy to read. We do always read it. We don't always get to answering, do we James, but we certainly do read. So thank you if you do do that.

Speaker 2:

Yes, we don't get so many emails that we just can't possibly read all of them, but we don't answer all of them, but we do answer most of them.

Speaker 1:

Yes, one way or the other.

Speaker 2:

And people give us good suggestions for podcast episode topics and stuff as well, and we quite often do them or take them up. Or people say, oh, you should talk to this person, they've got a book out about this or that. So we're totally open to suggestions as about what we should talk about and what you will, in turn, listen to.

Speaker 1:

So there we go.

Speaker 2:

He wraps it all up neatly in a bow.

Speaker 1:

Look at that glorious. We actually managed to. Rather than crashing into the runway, we actually sort of got the landing gear down and actually sort of there was a nice little graze across the tarmac there. Nice, thanks everyone for listening and, god willing, we'll be back with you in a couple of weeks, or just one week, if indeed you are one of our esteemed supporters. Love you, bye.

Speaker 3:

It just asking me okay.

The Importance of Listening in Communication
Listening and Understanding in Theology
Hearing God's Word Is Crucial
Importance of Listening and Wrestling With God's Word
The Complexity of Understanding Scripture
Engaging With Audience Feedback and Suggestions