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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Now of course that is not a real word, although I did hear it used on a very prestigious interview program on the CBC this weekend. That ought to give it some credence, don’t you think? It was not defined or defended as a word, and the conversation just kept going on as everyone appeared to understand precisely what it meant without further elaboration. I immediately thought “what a good word” and resolved to use it somehow in the blog. I’ve been a couple of days deciding just what to do with it.

The conversation in question was about the apparent imbalance between male and female writers in most current popular magazines. Despite the growing numbers of excellent women journalists, critics and commentators the gender imbalance is undeniable. There are the numbers right there in printed listings of authors, reviewers, etc. Thus the discussion in question. What are the reasons for this imbalance in favour of male writers? Panelists, male and female, were offering their opinions.

One of them suggested that women tend to be less given to “blowhardery” and are not so likely to produce and offer up their free-lance pieces. “They don’t necessarily believe that everyone wants to read what they think.”

I’m not going to get into the eternal battle of the sexes here. That was just some context for you. I am aware that very often decisions get made based on the loudest voices in the discussion. Some people do very well with parliamentary procedure, for example, because they enjoy the argument. It may even seem that they enjoy the sound of their own voices. Some of them need to talk out loud to figure out what they think. You can hear their opinions forming as they speak, having begun from a place of not quite knowing. Blowhardery is just part of formulating a position.

Of course there are those who just hate it all. They’d really prefer never to speak in a meeting, let alone to stand up front and be the centre of it all. Take away that microphone and just let them sit in the back and listen.

But what happens then is that all the opinions spoken out loud are those spoken by the loudest voices. If we are to hear from the others we must devise other ways. It’s why we do things like hold small group dialogue sessions, give people a chance to write down their ideas, circulate polls or surveys, hold more meetings to give greater opportunity to listen and discern—even the opportunity to hear from different loud voices.

Folks with the gift of blowhardery tend to fill the air space available. It is their gift and we appreciate their willingness to share. I’m glad for the people willing and able to speak up. But don’t let’s forget the others whose ideas may differ, who may have thoughts the rest of us haven’t yet. Be sure to give them a way into the decisions too. The best decisions tap the wisdom of the whole. It’s hard work, but worth all our efforts.

Posted by Marion


  1. You made me think about the need for varied voices. I note with interest that the World Church Leadership Council is just over 20% female. I hope some of them are blowhardy.

  2. You'll note I didn't offer an opinion in the post about the initial comment that "women are less given to 'blowhardery' in that I've been known to indulge in it a bit myself from time to time.
    The point you've gleaned is correct. We need varied voices!
    It puts a responsibility on us all to offer those opinions and to offer different ways to participate, if necessary. Sometimes the loud voices need to step back; sometimes the quiet ones need to speak up; always, those in charge of process need to find ways to open that process to all.

  3. Having for many years been one of those quiet unheard voices I understand why some feel they can not speak up and share their point of view. We have come a long way in the church to help the "quiet ones" but sometimes even small groups are intimidating to people and often some will leave as soon as small groups are mentioned. I can tell you being expected to share at some point is a very stressful feeling especially when you don't have the confidence in your self to share your thoughts. So many wonderful thoughts kept inside because of fear. Having said all that I really haven't any solutions except to say keep up the small groups, the writing down of ideas and anything else you can think of because they reach some. Gently encourage the "quiet ones" but be understanding that they may take years to build the confidence to speak up.

  4. Thanks Carole for these insightful comments.
    It is unfortunate that we haven't made the church as secure as it should be for some of these quiet folk. "Fear" ought not to have a place here.
    You may be interested in this site:Quiet: the Blog
    They offer lots of good advice to the "quiet ones."


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