Sunday, April 20, 2008

Discerning Deception and Double Talk

Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech.
2 Corinthians 3:12 KJV

Have you ever been confused, befuddled, or annoyed by the speech or method of communication of another person? Have you ever listened to someone talk and had no idea what they just said? Double talk, also known as double speak, is defined as, "deliberately ambiguous or evasive language." Other colorful words to describe it are: balderdash, baloney, hokum, bunkum, drivel, flimflam, rigmarole, and waffling. Hokum and bunkum are my favorites on that list. Sometimes the language is gibberish mixed in with normal speech. Both double talk and double speak may be used in different forms, but with the same intent, which is to deceive, mislead, and/or withhold information.

This "technique," if you will, is often used by politicians. They go around the world, so to speak, to supposedly answer a question, and when they are finished, they are hoping that no one noticed that the question was never really answered. It is very frustrating, isn't it? It is also insulting to your intelligence and sense of reason. Colossians 2:8, in the Message warns us to "watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything." Sometimes it is difficult to muddle through the muck and mire of what was said by many politicians, as well as ministers.

We had to deal with this from the leadership at at our former church. Not that big or intellectual words were used, but it did take on many other forms. One of them was the face to face conversation where you were trying to make a logical point, or you had a legitimate complaint. Logic did not exist there, and complaints were not welcome. So, somehow the conversation had to be twisted to make it look as though everything was somehow all your fault. There were no real answers given, and unless you specifically asked for one, no sincere apologies were made. And, in my opinion, an apology that that you have to solicit from someone is not truly sincere.

I know of a person who tried everything he knew to be a help in a particular area of the church. He was talented and well-liked. He handled many responsibilities in a very capable manner, but kept having them taken away from him with no clear explanation. He would continually ask what he did wrong and would only get a mumbo jumbo answer. Just total nonsense. We found out later that he was getting too close to a situation that the person in charge did not want him to know about, so the attempt was made to discredit him.

Colossians 4:5-6 in the Message says, Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don't miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.

If you were mistreated by the leadership or their family and it bothered you, then you were "offended." If the leadership or their family members were mistreated by someone and it bothered them, they were "hurt." It seemed that they were always the victim in any given situation. That is a manipulative use of semantics. When someone in the congregation messed up, they were harshly corrected and sometimes rudely treated. When the leadership or their family messed up, everyone was admonished not to gossip, and a new series on forgiveness came from the pulpit. That is double talk combined with a glowing example of a double standard.

Watch out for manipulative double talkers. It is very unpleasant to be taken advantage of, and this is a vile form of it. Always mean what you say and avoid those who don't. If someone tries to manipulate you with double talk, just tell them they are full of hokum bunkum.

For a little comic relief, I added this funny clip that gives an extreme example of a double talker who mixes gibberish with normal speech. I hope you like it.

Mr. Doubletalk

- V