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The intricacies of the ear, particularly the human ear, are marvellous. The visible curls and lobes, the hidden-hammer-anvil-stirrup-drum. There is wonder in the design, structure, function and effect. Listen to the ocean. Then cup your hand over your ear and listen to the waves.

How do we come to know things? We know things from being told; whether through the spoken voices of others, or through reading, or by attending to the myriad forms of social communication. The world of advertising is populated by extremely strident voices.

So it is essential to be alert as to who is doing the telling, because there is always an agenda, a focus, an attempt to allure, or deceive or convince; or there may be a desire in the speaker to console and reassure.

Each of us listens to whom or what gives life, to what seems to us to be life enhancing. A person hears what he or she wants to hear, because we like our own perspectives to be validated by others. So it is essential to test every voice, and to discard what offends your soul.


The world is full of voices. In the matter of faith and doubt there are competing voices. Many features by writers in newspapers and magazines often preface their remarks with a proclamation of faith in their atheism. Many evangelical atheists and religious evangelicals shout very loudly. The effect is to alienate anyone not well disposed to them. In view of the bombardment of views and counter views, every voice, every spirit, has to be tested.

Identify who controls the discourse, the terms of reference, the ‘words’ themselves. Ask: Who or what images your life? What stories do I listen to ? What stories do I shield myself from, and why ? To whom do I listen? To whom am I exposed?

A good story gives life. A bad story is a siren voice which leads the pilgrim sailor onto the rocks. Siren voices include fundamentalism in religious systems, evangelism in atheistic systems, ex-cathedra statements from the press, ill-liberals masquerading as liberal. A good story is the life-enhancing challenge expressed in the Sermon on the Mount [Mt.5-7]. If people listen to this, they will not build on sand.


Listen also to

A blackbird on a high wire at dusk

The waters lapping against the shore

The waters roaring in the power of surging waves

A sound in the distance of a cellist at practice

The wind in full leafed trees,

The wind through bare branches.

And sounds which shock with their intrusion:

The news of bombings

Angry marchers

Slapthud of domestic violence

The whimpering of a child abandoned.

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