Program #0307 for Friday, May 25, 2012: How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice: 10 Principles of Civil Communication

May 25, 2012

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How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice: 10 Principles of Civil Communication

Summary of today’s show: Whether it’s in a media interview or at a Memorial Day barbecue, Catholics are often called upon to defend their faith. Scot Landry, Fr. Mark O’Connell, and Dom Bettinelli discuss Austin Ivereigh’s new book “How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice,” and especially his 10 principles of civil communication, so that all Catholics can give a good witness and avoid winning arguments at the expense of changing hearts and minds.

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Mark O’Connell

Today’s guest(s): Domenico Bettinelli

Links from today’s show:

Today’s topics: How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice: 10 Principles of Civil Communication

Because Dom Bettinelli was a guest on today’s show, he was unable to provide the usual detailed show transcript. Please listen to the audio recording if possible or pick up the book How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice: Civil Responses to Catholic Hot Button Issues

1st segment: Scot and Fr. Mark caught up on the last two weeks. Fr, Mark recalled Msgr. Frank Strahan’s story about singing before Pope John Paul II at a moment’s notice. We heard this story when Msgr. Strahan was on the show.

2nd segment: We all at some point represent the Church to our friends or families or coworkers to defend the faith. A new book by Austin Ivereigh covers these principles. Scot spent last weekend at a workshop with the author and others.

Excerpts from Introduction to “How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice”:

We know how it feels, finding yourself suddenly appointed the spokesman for the Catholic Church while you’re standing at a photocopier, swigging a drink at the bar, or when a group of folks suddenly freezes, and all eyes fix on you.
‘‘You’re a Catholic, aren’t you?’’ someone says.
‘‘Um, yes,’’ you confess, looking up nervously at what now seems to resemble a lynch mob.

What you’ll read in these pages is the result of a group of Catholics getting together to prepare themselves for precisely these high-pressure, get-to-the-heart-of-it-quick, kind of contexts: not just around the water-cooler, but in three-minute interviews on live television. Their experience, distilled here, will help you to ‘‘reframe’’ the hot-button issues which keep coming up in the news and provoke heated discussion.

We call these issues ‘‘neuralgic’’ because they touch on nerve endings, those places in the body which, when pressed, cause people to squeal. In our public conversation, they are the points which lie on the borders where mainstream social thinking inhabits (at least apparently) a different universe from that of Catholics. Touch on them, and people get very annoyed. “How on earth can you believe that?” they ask you.

So while we can’t predict the news story, we can be pretty sure about the neuralgic issues. This book helps you to think through ten of the most common (and the toughest) for yourself; to understand where the criticism is coming from; and to consider how to communicate the Church’s position in ways that do not accept the presuppositions of the criticism. At the end of each of the nine briefing chapters, there are some ‘‘key messages’’ which summarise these positions—and which will hopefully help you next time you’re challenged.

Ten Principles of Civil Communication

Here are the ten principles which helped Catholic Voices develop the mind-set needed for this work:

  1. Look for the positive intention behind the criticism.
  2. Shed light, not heat.
  3. People won’t remember what you said as much as how you made them feel.
  4. Show, don’t tell.
  5. Think in triangles.
  6. Be positive.
  7. Be compassionate.
  8. Check your facts, but avoid robotics.
  9. It’s not about you.
  10. Witnessing, not winning.

3rd segment: Now as we do every week at this time, we will consider the Mass readings for this Sunday, specifically the Gospel reading.

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,
but they were confused
because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,
“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?
We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,
inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene,
as well as travelers from Rome,
both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs,
yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues
of the mighty acts of God.”

  • Second Reading for Pentecost Sunday, May 27, 2012 (1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13)

Brothers and sisters:
No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.

As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

  • Gospel for Pentecost Sunday, May 27, 2012 (John 20:19-23)

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

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