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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What Why How

Last spring, or summer or fall...whatever it was...I had to attend a training through work. I didn't want to go but to my surprise, something I learned that day was actually useful, and didn't involve the motivational speaker telling me that I'd be living in a van down by the RIVER! (As I had feared, even though I MIGHT end up living in a VAN down by the RIVER eventually.)

So often, (please forgive me) I have been frustrated by the commenters who take my posts out of context, pulling out this or that sentence or point and trying, it seems to make my post about something it is not.  Much of this failure is mine;  often I am not clear, often it is a difficult thing, and sometimes it is something that can only be understood by someone who is going through the same thing I am while I write about it.

Sometimes I try to address within the post what I know will become a stumbling block for this or that type of reader, but it seems, always, that my most introspective posts manage to invite comments by those who simply cannot grasp where I am coming from or where I am going. It's impossible and unwieldy to even TRY to make ever commenter happy in catering to their needs. Thus, in the end, the frustration is with myself, in my inability to be all things to all people.

Truly, I don't expect people to understand me,and yet, idiotically, I somehow expect people to understand me. 
(Do you see me rolling my eyes at myself yet?)  

Some time ago, while trying to keep my frustration under wraps, I found a way to express it by writing a humorous post about what would happen if St. Augustine had blogged "Confessions."  I didn't pick on any commenters in particular, but admittedly went for reality to include the rational and annoying both.  You can find that post here. Any blogger could relate and add to the commentary.

This is where I circle around to bring in my actual subject matter for this post:  I have come to realize the speaker I was forced to listen to that day had a point, and truly, there are three types of people in the world, and all of them have commented at my blog at one time or another.

Understanding the types of people (therefore readers/commenters) can go a very long way towards responding to them according to who they are, and this leads to blog success.  More specifically, it leads to success in evangelization THROUGH the blog - or any other medium, for that matter.

(Yes, I'm shameless. Why are you shocked?)

Without further ado, I introduce you to the three types of people found everywhere in the world through every single medium, including blog com boxes:

The "What" People:

These are the people who just want to know WHAT the problem is if there is one, or if not, WHAT the subject is about and therefore, WHAT they should do.  These are the same people who want short blog posts and who are looking for the fine points in any given published article or online post.  They favor bullet points over paragraphs and wouldn't be able to survive without printers and highlighters

In some sense, I think that they might be the most likely to take longer posts out of context, just because of their inherent nature to ask "What the hell are you talking about so I can respond and get it over with?"  These are the people who look to the Passion of Christ as a necessary business, but would prefer not to emote too much over it.

The "What" people are pragmatic, practical, to-the-point, realistic, logical, and want to prioritize. They don't have time for trivialities and quickly tap their feet when confronted by both the "Why" people and the "How" people, whom they see as being extremists and polar opposites.

To evangelize them one must focus mainly on who Jesus is and the fittingness arguments as to the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection.  The challenge in formation for the "What" people is often to bring in both doctrinal and mystical theology to make sure they do not focus only on outcome, i.e., "getting the job done."

Many "What" people are most probably Thomists or Scholastics.


The "Why" People:

These are the people who are the most empathetic among us. They tend to be the most optimistic, the ones who most desperately flee any semblance of suffering in favor of "looking to the good things", often to the degree of outright denial of the necessity of obstacles.  In their empathy they are looking for the same empathy they offer out of their own inherent virtue, and are often bitterly disappointed, but to be fair, are honestly confused when others aren't as "Resurrection-oriented" as they are. They suffer greatly in this area and struggle to maintain their optimism.

The "Why" people tend to be the ones who are most offended and have the thinnest skin when it comes to the reality of sin in the world, wanting both to deny it in general and for themselves, focusing so desperately on the "positive" that they willfully deny the very important positive point of redemptive suffering.

This group is the most difficult to evangelize; they are emotionally driven to the deprivation of the intellectual. It is therefore important, when evangelizing a "Why" person, to find points of identification, such as that provided  by the Saints.  Find a Saint that most resembles the individual, build the points while you build the relationship of friendship and support with that individual.

Keep in mind that with a "Why" it isn't about facts or history or doctrine...it is all about whether they like you or not, and whether you can transfer their affection for you to affection for Christ so that He reigns.  It's a long-term project, and it means that you're going to become family members and best friends long before the "Why" finally accepts the teaching of Christ.  Why?  Because it's all about emotion and trust. It's entirely possible for a Why to adapt to a more realistic approach, but it takes time and patience. When it happens, though, get out of the way for the Why can easily become a How when they recognize the importance of their mission, and NOTHING stops them!

You'll find a lot of "Why" people focusing on Catholic Social Teaching, but the challenge in forming them tends towards the emphasis of  the doctrinal teachings and why they are important. They are excellent in the field of encouragement and intercessory prayer (you'll never find someone more dedicated to intercession!), make great motivational speakers, and are often found peddling politics and special causes.

These are the "doers" of society who keep things running.

The "Why" people are the ones most likely to find a philosophical basis in conceptualism and/or relativism. They can be guided towards Scholasticism and may adopt other philosophies according to their formation and emotional approach to spirituality.

The "How" People:

Oh, this is probably the most complicated of all.  They are perhaps the bane of my existence.

The "Hows" are the concrete-numbers-only-literalists among us.  They tend to be engineers and mathmeticians, or even worse, actuaries.  They might even be librarians (although most librarians are more flexible and personable.)  Most likely, they work for the IRS, the KGB, or the CIA.  Or maybe the DMV.

These are the people who, upon being notified of a meeting, demand to know the topic, the content, what they should bring, and then prepare spreadsheets with all sorts of complicated figures so that they will be certain to know each and every detail and be able to contribute to influencing it.

You'll never find a politician among this group. The "How" people are far too intelligent to ever condescend to mere politics. They make up the backbone of any organization, the unsung heroes in the dingy basement office of the highest skyscraper, spending their days with numbers, printouts and ever-changing computer code.

Evangelizing a "How" is quite difficult. If they are not already faithful, they tend towards the atheistic spectrum, although do have a special love of logic. The only people who can really evangelize a "How" have a deep grasp of philosophy, a love of concrete facts, and only bring in the mystical when it is absolutely necessary AND when the How is ready to go to the next level.  It's a very tricky task, but once a How has converted...get out of the way!

"Hows" make the best Scripture Scholars and Systematic Theologians.

The challenge in the formation of a How is in the realm of true pastoral relations and divine pedagogy;  making sure that the person receiving the message is actually prepared to receive it.

Philosophically speaking, the "How" people tend to cross the spectrum; but once converted, tend towards Thomism, Scholasticism, Moral Ethics, and Natural Law.

Conclusion

I have detailed above the three types of people, and having had a year or so to consider it, have come to the conclusion that the speaker was correct. I work with all three types of people and their combinations.

Most people belong to a combination of categories. For myself, I am a What-Why, only rarely tapping into How.

It is no surprise that I sometimes become frustrated when I am not understood through this medium, and probably, my readers likewise are not understood.

Although I've taken a (dry) humorous approach on this, I invite my readers to look at the categories (What, Why, How), suggest your own take on philosophy, evangelization, and characteristics, and post them in the com box.

Keep it light, keep it fun, and keep it real.

:-)

It might be Lent, but that doesn't mean we have to give up being geeks!

12 comments:

Parenting said...

Blogwalking from Indonesia, looking for new information. How do You do?

Warren said...

I don't believe in blogging as an "evangelization" tool. I think Christian bloggers in general, Catholics and all the rest of us too, exist in a kind of religious blog ghetto.

I think the only person one can be converting or failing to convert is the person Francis called Brother Ass. :-)

He was referring to himself. But hey, if you can convert that one, the rest should be easy.

W

Adoro said...

Warren ~ EVERYTHING is a tool for evangelization. But if you don't want to see blogging as that, then, well, take the info above and apply it to the real world.

Evangelization isn't about forcing someone to convert...it's about spreading the gospel message to the world. The Pope himself has called on Catholics to use the internet for this purpose. So I am, and have been for a few years now.

I agree there's kind of a blogging ghetto, but I'm not limited to that...I'm all over the place doing this stuff in the real world in my personal life and at work.

The reality is that people are online and if we're not here evangelizing, then we're going to miss those people who respond to this medium.

Believe me...I get emails all the time from people who don't comment, but have questions about our faith and felt like they could talk to me. If that isn't evangelization through blogging, I don't know what is.

Mary said...

Yes, I think that evangelization is an important thing. You do a wonderful job at it. If it's not here it's in other places that you are.

I find that one should know what type of person one is before they can do anything. And, that is were I get hung up. I have a hard time with the How kind of person. But the other two have more of me. I just don't know what I am. I'm going to have to think about this one.

The other thing that I have to say is that you have given me a lot to think about in the past few posts, so thank you.

Mary said...

FYI
I did talk about your blog in my podcast. so if you get some new hits on your blog. It might be that I got that podcast up.

Like I said you have has some very good post and I have had to think about them.

So angain I say thinks.

Adoro said...

Thank YOU Mary! :-)

Sarah said...

Ha, I am definitely a Why-How person. People always tell me I have a "complicated" personality, hehe. I have the hardest time with the "what" people. I guess I am just not that practical. It's so helpful to identify your temperament, I think. And I agree that the internet is a great tool for evangelization. A person who may not pick up a heavy book about the faith may be willing to browse posts on a blog. I also agree it's not about forcing anything... just making the faith accessible and available.

Adoro said...

Sarah ~ I work with a couple people who are total "Why's", and oh, my how we occasionally butt heads! LOL!

I go into a meeting just wanting to know WHAT I need or WE need to do, and a couple of my co-workers are busy emoting about WHY people's feelings might be hurt or how this or that might be received.

As much as I tap my feet at it I know that I need their balance to my propensity to rush headlong into some project without considering how it might impact everything we do!

And our supervisor is a How with a balance of Why-What, so she can somehow deal with all of us!


Last year we all commented, in a staff meeting on how helpful that particular seminar had actually been to us, to our total surprise. I've found applications of it EVERYWHERE. It's not temperament exactly, but great in a business sense for sizing up how to react to situations.

Kiwi Nomad 2008 said...

Hahahhahaha I am obviously a WHY person. No wonder I am so dreadfully difficult!!!

Lynne said...

What a fascinating post! I'm very much a Why person (empathetic and all) but the more I read, the more I realized that I'm also a What as I tend to be politically conservative and I view the social justice types as being liberal. Much to think about...

Melody K said...

I would place myself in the What/Why category. But the weird thing is, I work in the How world, in a science-related occupation, with engineers and technical people, and most of the time I like it. The times when I don't like it are when people take their personal problems out on others.

Melody K said...

Part of what you said in your post is also about being an optimist vs being a pessimist. We need them both; the pessimists keep us grounded in reality, the optimists keep us from being ground down by reality.