Communication is a Three-Way Process

Yesterday morning I was lucky enough to be part of the Church of England Diocesan Communication Officers’ ‘Firefighting or Firelighting’ Conference at Cuddesdon. I was very impressed by the people I met and afterwards wondered whether the Catholic Church in England and Wales can count on such sincere and talented people to help front the Church to the world. The fact that I don’t know bothers me slightly and says something (I’m not sure what) about communications within the Church to which I belong. However, it also made me think a little about the nature of communication itself.

In a Christian context, communication is never merely a two-way process; it is always three-way because it must proceed from, be informed by, and in some way ‘return’ to God. It is, if you like, essentially trinitarian with a small ‘t’. I find that a very liberating thought because it takes so much responsibility from our shoulders. Of course we must do our best to communicate important truths as clearly and simply as we can; of course we must use words to build up rather than tear down; but ultimately we can be at peace because we are relying not on ourselves but on God, who is the Supreme Communicator and can use some spectacularly unpromising material, even the jawbone of a donkey, to get his message across. Come to think of it, if I were a diocesan communications officer, I might just take Balaam’s donkey as my personal mascot!