by Talitha Greaver
For one of my assignments for an education course, I had to film myself teaching a lesson to three of my classmates. Thinking that I’d get a head-start on revisions, I decided to watch the video myself, to see if I’d done anything terribly stupid that I should be bracing for when I got my critiques. However, as I watched the video, I was unable to concentrate on how effective my teaching was. A single question consumed my entire attention.
Is that really how my voice sounds?
I’m sure some of you have experienced a similar shock and horror when hearing your voice for the first time on a recording. Our voices sound different to us because, according to an article I found on Google, we hear our voice two different ways: through vibrations in the air and vibrations through our skull. The latter are slower and more spread out, making it sound lower. We are literally too close to hear ourselves clearly.
This made me wonder where else proximity is hampering my understanding. For example, I have been Lutheran since I was baptized as a small, chubby baby (yes, I was adorable), and have been attending weekly services since I could sit in the pew and be distracted into good behavior by coloring pages. Because of this, my understanding of the Lutheran church has been limited to a very intimate perspective.
Attending the Lutheran/Catholic dialogue that took place recently between the Lutheran and Newman Centers began to change this. As we discussed the similarities and differences between the two denominations, I learned about the substance behind the phrase “simultaneously saint and sinner”, about differing opinions on issues such as sacraments, the role of authority, and justification. Everything was coming into a larger context. I think this is why conversations with different denominations are so important: not only does it help us understand each other, it also helps us understand ourselves.
Next, to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, I was lucky enough to help with the Lutheran Center’s Reformation door outside the Union. Pastor Adam created what he called the Wittenburg Door; He added cork board, spray-painted a Luther Rose on the top, and positioned the door in front of the fountain for all to see and respond to. As people from different denominations and faith backgrounds wrote down and pinned up their grievances and concerns about the church, I began to understand in a very concrete way what the Christian community looks like from the outside. I feel that these different perspectives can help me grow as a member of a Christian community.
As Lutherans, we often have a narrative of what the church is: compassionate, serving, loving, and accepting. These are true, but not all the time. I believe we should be aware of the places where these narratives fall flat. Sometimes the easiest place to see those weak points is from the outside. If you are looking for places of growth to work on, I encourage you to review the grievances posted on the door, (or listen to your friend’s complaints, or read through a varying perspective on your favorite social media site) and to think about which grievances apply to your own life. Read them carefully. Listen carefully. Can you hear what our voice sounds like?