No Context – No Communication, Know Context – Know Communication

Knowing what someone says does not always equal knowing what someone means. It may be as silly as whether to use soda or coke. Much of your decision is learned from your context. Do you invite someone for a soda? If so, it may mean you will offer a variety of flavored carbonated beverages. Do you invite someone for a coke? If so, it may mean you will offer only a Coke-a-Cola. Context matters when it comes to communication.


Take the word intersection. Generally we may think of the place where two streets intersect. The decision as to who has the right to pass first is governed by either a light or the rule that says it is a matter who comes to stop at the intersection first. If there is a question, you yield to the right.

Intersections means more when we apply the word to context. In this reprised interview, Natalie Burris, helps us think about intersectionality. Think of it as more the convergence of multiple Interstates. If you have ever traveled into Dallas and reached the downtown area, you find yourself at a number of traveling options. Radio traffic personalities refer to the civil engineering marvel a mixmaster, at least they did the we lived there.

Shared live is much like the convergence of any number of influences, a veritable mixmaster. Together the influences help shape and inform our understanding of the world. Everyone’s intersections are different. Communication at that point requires knowing the context of those intersections.


Communication is thwarted by impatience with seeking to understand the intersections associated with context. When we tire of learning how intersectionality works in our varied contexts, we may practice derailment. Now we are mixing our metaphors unless the aim to to travel the path of healthy communication.

Pastors are not immune to derailment. No one is. Natalie describes where she first hear the idea of derailment. We may draw some parallels, if not simple inferences, to how we treat others when we tire of listening to the other. Derailment may be a tactic in issues large and small.


Today is MLK Day, Martin Luther King Jr commemorations. My friend Marty actually offered a short description of our we may miss intersectionality and practice derailment. He posted:

January: The month most White Americans can’t stop “remembering” MLK.February: When many of the same White Americans ask, “Why do we need Black History Month?” without the slightest sense of irony.

Posted by Marty Duren on Monday, January 18, 2016

Our future well being as a people who learn to get along may be helped by understanding the themes and insights offered by Natalie in this interview.

Subscribe to the podcast. Choose iTunes or Stitcher. If you like what you hear, leave a review.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to subscribe to email alerts at the top of the right sidebar. 

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

1 comment on “No Context – No Communication, Know Context – Know Communication

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.