Book Review: Communicating with Grace and Virtue: Learning to Listen, Speak, Text, and Interact as a Christian
Communicating with Grace and Virtue: Learning to Listen, Speak, Text, and Interact as a Christian by Quentin J. Schultze. Baker Academic. Grand Rapids, MI. 2020. Total pages: 150.
More and more people find themselves at odds with each other. Social media seems to move us farther apart into separate orbits rather than bringing us closer together. Those in the United States wonder if the hotly divided sides in the current election and its aftermath will ever cool off as racial tensions, economic uncertainty, and a pandemic throttle us toward what seems like civil war or Armageddon.
The title of this book offers a welcomed hope: Communicating with Grace and Virtue. The author didn’t grow up as a Christian. In fact, a troubling childhood made him a poor communicator. Through personal stories of tragedy and humor, Schultze wins over the reader to some basic principles for improving communication. Sharing his failures and successes makes it seem realistic and likely to be hopeful by applying one’s self to the task at hand. Through eight short chapters, the reader can zip through the principles to make small yet significant steps to improve communication in one-to-one encounters as well as group settings and public presentations. Each chapter has several small, boxed anecdotes and insights that add zest to the topic.
The author is a professor of communication emeritus at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As a somewhat retired professor, his expertise in communication comes through clearly, but it lacks some of the tech-savvy perspectives a younger professor would more likely find native.
While the author challenges notions such as automatically using PowerPoint slides with every public presentation, little space was devoted to social media and its various platforms. This seems to be a place where grace and virtue quickly disappear. While the heart and mouth and ears are crucial to communication, another chapter on applying this to social media would have been helpful, especially for those of us who deal with this personally and professionally. What the fingers quickly type on devices and the meaning we interpret from what others communicate easily diverge from grace and virtue.
For a quick-read that offers an orientation that promotes kindness, graciousness, clarity, and wholesomeness, this booklet can yield a worthwhile benefit for those who read and take it to heart.
Steve Case, PhD, used to speak at conventions and training events for youth ministry all over the place. Since the pandemic, he primarily communicates virtually through his best friend, Zoom.