Working on: Elijah’s tone of voice

As I said yesterday, I’m thinking about thinking about some things. Here’s another.


I noticed recently that there are two Bible stories in particular where a person is preparing a presentation. They believe that they are going to have one chance to make a case for their position. They work out their wording and the writer gives us a glimpse of it. And then we read those same words as they are presented.

In one, Elijah is fearful and frustrated. He offers the same speech to God twice. The first time is when he tells a voice what he wants to say to God. The second is when he knows he’s talking to God.

In the story we know as the prodigal son, the younger son puts together a speech for his father (who Jesus implies is representing THE Father). The first time he gives the speech, he’s talking to himself. The second time he’s talking to his father.

I know, of course, that the Elijah stories were spoken before being written. And I know that the parable Jesus is telling is spoken before being written. And I know that exact repetition is helpful in oral story-telling. In Daniel 3, we read three times about  “the satraps, the prefects and the governors” who were gathered. In Nehemiah, Nehemiah is described as saying repeatedly that the walls are broken and the gates are burned.

Given that these are oral before they are written, tone of voice enters in. And I wonder about the tone of voice of the presenter.

What we know from our own experience is that we prepare speeches for difficult moments where we believe the other person is going to be difficult. We prepare for why we want a raise, why we should get the promotion, why the other person should have followed the process.

But we also know that in the moment, sometimes, the situation changes when we are met by understanding rather than resistance, by love rather than distance.

Sometime soon, I want to explore this tone-of-voice and relationship observation more. For now, I wanted to mention it to you.