Communication Studies in Christian Thought
In 2018, your editors were part of a book titled Words and Witnesses: Communication Studies in Christian Thought from Athanasius to Desmond Tutu (Hendrickson, 2018). It included more than 40 chapters from nearly as many authors and institutions. It covered early church, medieval, Renaissance, Reformation, early modern, modern, and contemporary Christian thinkers and theologians. The current project is a continuation of the purposes of that volume, as described below. There are many more voices that need to be heard and we hope to provide a space for that expression here. This volume will be published by Integratio Press, the CCSN’s imprint.
The Purpose: In Technopoly (1992), communication theorist and cultural critic Neil Postman lamented that technological society’s most insidious accomplishment was to convince people that the future does not need any connection to the past. Indeed, our culture’s religion of technological optimism today is one which falsely equates information with wisdom, promotes individuality over community, and seeks to cut off people from the past, including tradition.
Instead of pursuing more information or bandwidth to address the many communication challenges we face, the authors in this volume help readers identify “foundational processes” that help to faithfully navigate the rough seas of a society filled with both data and misinformation. A central way to identify “foundational processes” is to explore the core beliefs and practices that animate and inform the historic Christian tradition. Tradition offers an interpretive encounter with meaning, a unified vision of the world, and a pragmatic wisdom about true communication in the midst of an ephemeral digital deluge.
Christian tradition recognizes the Church as a place where the faithful are educated in the faith. That is, they are given inner formation that is consistent with the Gospel. The soul, in the Christian Tradition, is taught, primarily, to be like the Word Himself. This process of interior transformation leads to exterior actions that speak that Word again into the world’s clouded visions, muffled hearing, cluttered lives, and disordered values. By examining the inner life and outer witness of those in the past, we gain new insights into how communication, the Word, and the world are intertwined. Courageous devotion to, and consistent with, interpretive reflection on the inheritance of faith is a calling for every generation. Those who, in the past, have shown themselves faithful to that calling become sources of encouragement and instruction for living well and communicating wisely today. They provide both insightful communication theory and profound communication praxis.
The Audience: Our primary target audience will be general, educated Christian readers across a broad denominational spectrum in both Catholic and Protestant traditions. In addition to the educated lay reader, the following are specifically targeted: (1) high school, college, graduate, and seminary level educators and their students at Christian and religiously-affiliated institutions; (2) educators and scholars of religious and Church history at non-Christian institutions; (3) pastors looking for assistance in helping congregants wisely address communication challenges and faithfully sort through their responsibilities as critics, consumers, and producers of messages; and (4) small group leaders who facilitate discussion and exploration as part of a faith-formation outreach in their local place of worship.
A strong secondary audience includes other working professionals in communication who need an alternative intellectual grid to explain certain communication and cultural phenomena occurring within religious circles and within society at-large. A final secondary audience includes non-Christians, including Jews, and others affiliated with faith communities that value and emphasize tradition.
The Approach: While theology is interesting in and of itself, the chapters in this collection will focus on a different path, presenting the devotionally formative aspect of one individual’s vision of communication, followed by an exploration of how this transformed vision led to transforming action. Implications for the present moment are then drawn.
More than an instruction manual for “effective” or “efficient” communication, the chapters of this volume will offer insights and reflections on how the faithful of the past have understood the connection between the Word and words, how this understanding made them Christlike, and how those believers enacted that Christian understanding in a challenging, fallen world.
Few of the influential thinkers or theologians represented in this volume are likely to have written a full-blown “theology of communication.” Contributors to this volume will, therefore, focus on an individual’s implied theology of communication—that is, their understanding of how symbol systems, language, and meaning point toward God. The contributor will then trace the consequences of this view in the individual’s own piety and devotion. Next, the contributor will trace how this inner formation was embodied and enacted in the individual’s own culture, society, or family. Finally, contributors will conclude with commentary on the practical implications this transformation has for us today, in our attempt to preserve and live Christian tradition.
It is worth noting that the Christian thinkers presented in this volume need not be professional theologians, but they must have influenced other theologians and be considered significant for their contributions to theologically oriented reflections and action about communication in Church and society.
Authors are encouraged to use clear sub-headings in the body of the chapter, and “get to the point” quickly in their writing. Given word limits (described below), this is essential. Moreover, authors are encouraged to go for depth and insight rather than breadth in their analysis. Therefore, instead of trying to address a particular individual’s complete body of work, authors should concentrate on a single significant work or two that highlight the individual’s understanding of a key communication construct, practice, phenomenon, or event that led them toward Christlikeness. These understandings may have been part of a conversion experience, or they may have simply been a moment of deepening and sharpening the believer’s faith. All chapters should be rooted in communication studies as they touch on theologically influential persons, insights, and actions.
Individual chapters will center around one or more of the following intersections between communication and theology:
- how contemporary communication scholars might turn to influential Christian thinkers and theologians as resources for addressing specific problems, controversies, or crises in communication today.
- how particular theologies (doctrines, Church practices, biblical texts, etc.) articulated by influential Christian thinkers and theologians might help re-describe specific issues in communication in ways unavailable to mainstream communication scholars.
- how ideas or texts in communication studies might help solve a specific problem or oversight in the Church which influential Christian thinkers and theologians know and address.
- how communicative means, practices, and authorities at the time of the Christian thinker’s or theologian’s writing might have influenced their access to, thoughts about, and propagation of their theological ideas, assumptions, values, and problems.
The Structure and Length:
Title (left justify, bold, Times New Roman, 16 pt.): includes influential thinker’s or theologian’s name.
- Sub-title (bold, Times New Roman, 16 pt.): includes the main communication theme that will be the focus of the chapter (e.g., listening, speaking, persuading, resisting; motivation, self-image, credibility, expectation, audience adaptation, shared meaning, narrative, conflict, dialogue, and more). The theme should be specific and clear.
- Author’s Name (no bold, Times New Roman, 13 pt.): your name as you want it to appear in the book.
- Chapter Abstract (125-150 words, Times New Roman, 12 pt.): See sample below.
Jacques Ellul: Communicating Wisely with Hospitable Resistance
Quentin J. Schultze
Abstract: Jacques Ellul acknowledged that The Presence of the Kingdom (1948) was his most important work, essentially an introduction to all of his later thought about the relationships among faith, technology, and communication. This short, five-chapter book addresses the problem of being a Christian “in the world,” the revolutionary character of the Christian faith, modern society’s emphasis on “means” over “ends,” the essential difficulty of communication in a fallen world, and the need for a “new form” of communication among humans. The book suggests four critical aspects of this new communication: authenticity, hospitality, faithfulness, and community. The result is an astonishing book that people of faith can use today to discern how to listen wisely, maintain a hospitable stance toward alien culture, and speak resistantly against the principalities and powers of the age.
Chapter Body (10-13 double spaced pages, 3,000-4,000 words not including endnotes, Times New Roman, 12 pt.).
- Introduction (2-3 pages): begin with a short story/illustration from the individual’s life that has some relevance for us today in terms of communication issues or challenges we face. The story/illustration should highlight this person’s insight or understanding about the way a key communication construct, practice, phenomenon, or event in God’s Kingdom works. Include a clear statement of your thesis about the key construct, practice, phenomenon, or event that your chapter will address, and provide a brief overview of the chapter before you leave the Introduction.
- Text (2-3 pages): explain the key work or two you are going to focus your chapter on and how the work(s) are expressions, reflections, or applications of this person’s communication vision as identified in the chapter’s Introduction. Make clear the connection between theology, discipleship, and communication as presented by the influential thinker or theologian, and what that individual’s position on the particular communication construct, practice, phenomenon, or event is.
- Context (2-3 pages): explain why the individual wrote what he or she wrote. Press deeply into the world of the author. As you do so, the individual’s work becomes more illuminating and interesting. So, instead of just asking, “What truth does Karl Barth or Augustine or Calvin or Ignatius think he is uttering here?” ask, “Why was Barth or Augustine or Calvin or Ignatius uttering this word at this particular moment?” Grounding theology in its context will also help us make stronger connections to the world in which we live, precisely because our world is different from theirs. In short, chapters should keep a theologian’s feet placed firmly on the ground.
- Application (4-5 pages): emphasize how this person’s understanding of some aspect of communication became an influence on their own individual journey with and into God. Connect the insight of the individual with their own devotion, piety, and interior life. How did their understanding of communication shape or change them? What did it mean for their prayer life? For their study of Scripture? For their participation in worship? Of course, we have no direct access to the author’s heart and mind, but we can make reasonable assumptions and then clarify the connection(s) we see, and back up those connections with support from biographies, letters, sermons, or journals. Throughout, consider what the central theme of the individual’s work presented in the chapter means for us today, and how it helps us to communicate wisely given our communication challenges. How does it help us think about and evaluate communication without being trendy, faddish, or irrelevant five or ten years from now? Find three to five key applications that speak to our target audience.
- Conclusion (1-2 pages): the final sub-heading of your chapter should be a single page or less and summarize the key or “big” ideas of the chapter, connecting the reader back to the story/illustration presented in the introduction. Leave the reader with hope and encouragement.
The Process: As a way to serve our readers, and to help our chapters hang together within and across volumes, we have included some basic guidelines regarding language, tone, and style at the end of this document in an Appendix. There may be slight changes in style along the way, but you will be safe following the attached guidelines for now.
Sample chapter. Sample chapters may be found in Words and Witnesses: Communication Studies in Christian Thought from Athanasius to Desmond Tutu (Hendrickson, 2018), the book from which this current volume has been developed. Each chapter represents the structure above and provides guidance in terms of tone, style, and structure.
The first stage is a chapter outline (due sometime on or before Feb. 1, 2023). This short outline (2-3 pages, or much more if you want) is something we have used in previous projects of this scope. The outline ensures greater consistency across the final collection and reduces the number of edits for you and me down the road. We will turn these outlines around quickly so you do not lose momentum on your chapter. If you have worked with us in the past, you know these outlines are quite helpful and painless.
The second stage is the submission of your chapter draft. We need this sometime before June 1, 2023. Most authors go through 1-2 rounds of revision (please expect at least one round). Given the process we follow as outlined here, however, by the final stage most edits are relatively minor.
The third stage is the final draft of your chapter. We ask that you submit your final draft no later than August 28, 2023.
Given the number of authors in our collection, we’d appreciate receiving your work as soon as possible before the deadlines.
Finally, please send us the two items below as soon as you can if you have not already done so:
- An updated vita.
- A short bio (125-175 words).
Mark A. E. Williams is a professor of rhetoric at California State University, Sacramento, where he teaches courses in rhetorical criticism, rhetoric and religion, and the history of rhetoric. He is a former research fellow of Oxford University and of the L’École Biblique et Archaéologique de Jérusalem. His publications include “St. Socrates, Pray for us: Rhetoric and the Physics of being Human” in Rhetoric in the Twenty-first Century: An Interactive Oxford Symposium, “From Here to Eternity: The Scope of Misreading Plato’s Religion” in Communication and the Global Landscape of Faith, and “St. Anselm of Canterbury” in Words and Witnesses: Communication Studies in Christian Thought from Athanasius to Desmond Tutu; “Integrating Secular Faith and Navel Gazing” in Professing Christ. Left unsupervised, he will read Tolkien, bind books by hand, watch the shadows change in the back yard, take pointless walks, and write just for fun.
Thanks again for your commitment to this important project.
CCSN Executive Director
Professor of Rhetoric
California State University-Sacramento
Style and Formatting Guidelines for Authors
Please follow the general guidelines in The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., humanities style, on matters of style and Webster’s Tenth New Collegiate, Biographical, and Geographical Dictionaries for correct spelling (use the first spelling). Please consult these works if you have any questions.
- Your chapter should be 3,000-4,000 words in length, not including endnotes.
- Approximately 10 sources, and about 20-30 page references to your theologian’s key work (or two) under examination.
- As just noted, use endnotes, not footnotes.
- Double space your entire manuscript, including endnotes.
- Use non-technical jargon/language accessible to our audience. If you absolutely must use it, then immediately define it.
- Please avoid Christian bashing or proselytizing.
- Use active (versus passive) verbs as often as possible.
- Include only key authors’ or scholars’ names in the body of your chapter. Use full name the first time it is mentioned and only last name after that.
- Use present tense when referring to quoted authors unless the historical context is important (e.g., Smith says, “Yada yada.”; Smith said [in 1967], “Yada yada.”)
- Include several key/foundational sources for readers early on in your endnotes.
- Include at least one illustration, graphic, or other image in your chapter. (If you do not have the actual illustration, graphic, or image, describe what you had in mind, and I will see if I can help us to acquire the image). Please include it in a separate file, with its position in the text called out by a bracketed placeholder thus: <photo here>. Likewise, any tables you use should likewise be in a separate file, with its position in the text called out by a bracketed placeholder thus: <table 1 here>.
- Always use the tab key for paragraph indents rather than using the space bar to position text.
- Always left-justify your text and headings, and sub-headings.
- If your manuscript contains special characters or symbols, please consult with me. We will probably need to incorporate custom coding in the final manuscript.
- Font Styles and Sizes, Subsections
Chapter Title: Times New Roman, 16 pt. font
Author(s) Name: Times New Roman, 13 pt. font
Body of Text: Times New Roman, 12 pt. font
Major headings: Times New Roman, 12 pt. font, bold
Main subheads: Times New Roman, 12 pt. font
Second-level subheads: Times New Roman, 12 pt. font, bold, italics, followed by period, then double space to beginning of paragraph on same line.
What Else to Avoid
- Do not use contractions.
- Do not hyphenate words at the ends of lines.
- Do not use a hard return anywhere within a paragraph; use hard returns only at the ends of paragraphs, lines of poetry, items in a list, titles, and all levels of headings.
- Do not use centering or other formatting commands (other than bold and italic) in your word-processing software. Include contiguous punctuation in the formatting, that is, punctuation immediately following a word should be in the same format as the word.
- Do not manually insert page numbers in your files. For page numbering, use the numbering feature in your word-processing program. All page numbers should be bottom center.
Text and Punctuation
- Abbreviations and acronyms
Spell out on first use in a chapter or entry; include the acronym in parentheses immediately after the first mention: Department of Transportation (DOT), chief executive officer (CEO). In bibliographic entries and in-text citations, the full name of the organization, author, or entity must be spelled out.
Use EM dashes without spaces on either side (This is an example—so follow it well.)
Praeger uses the word-by-word system for alphabetizing. See Chicago, 16th ed., sections 18.58 and 18.59, for details.
Titles of positions, even quite long or very important ones, should be lowercase unless followed by the name of a particular person: the director of internal affairs, the secretary of state, the president, but Secretary McNamara, President Wilson. Likewise, full titles of organizations are capitalized but not the shortened form: the University of California, but the university.
Note the capitalization guidelines for certain key words in our series:
church (if local community or group)
God/Creator/Holy Spirit (pronouns referring to God, too)
World Wide Web (“website” is lower case.)
Church (if Church universal, or all Christian, and not just local community/group)
Use the series comma for three or more items in a series: The basket held apples, oranges, and pears.
When citing dates, use the month/date/year style (November 13, 1987).
Spell out whole numbers one through ninety-nine, but use figures for larger numbers, percentages (6 percent—note that “percent” is spelled out as one word), page numbers, and exact measurements (5 feet).
If similar numbers both large and small occur in a single paragraph or section, use figures for all of them. (The group consisted of 29 women and 103 men). (See Chicago, chapter 9, for details.)
1890s (no apostrophe); 1871−1875 (NOT 1871–75)
12 percent, 0.4 percent
23 acres, 2 kilograms
25 million people, $3.5 million
4,000 (comma with ordinary number) but p. 1259 (no comma)
- 455−458 (NOT 455−8 or 455−58)
- Any direct quotation in a chapter or entry must cite its source, including page number.
- Do not directly quote your own work from a previous publication until you consult your editor.
- Do not directly quote from Internet materials without properly citing the source just as you would when quoting from a book (That goes for web pages, listservs, and e-books).
- Do not depend on general reference materials such as World Book. Although such reference works have their value, the information should come from years of personally studying the subject or from works that treat the topic in some depth. Use substantive sources for obtaining your information.
- Avoid long quotes that may require us to seek permission.
NOTE: Because poems/songs are typically shorter and more dependent on distinctive expression than most prose, even very brief quotations may be considered foul rather than fair use. I have found that in my own work it is often possible to paraphrase and then quote verbatim key words and/or phrases. If it is absolutely necessary to include more, then we will seek permission. If your chapter is one that may include more poetry/songs than others, please let me know as soon as possible so we can work together on this ahead of time.
In addition to endnotes, each author is required to prepare a bibliography of sources. We will follow the style recommended in The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, referred to as the humanities style, for bibliographic references.
Most of the reference types for endnotes and bibliographic references you will need are given online at: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html
NOTE: When necessary, use the two-letter postal abbreviations for state names (Madison, WI); for large cities or if the state name is included in the publisher’s name, the state name is omitted (Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin).
- Subsequent entries of same source. In your endnotes, be sure to use a shortened entry if it is a reference already given a full treatment.
- Example of the first reference for a source in your endnotes: Walter Brueggemann, Prophetic Imagination (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978), 13.
- Example of the same reference appearing later in the endnotes of your chapter: Brueggemann, Prophetic Imagination, 42-43. Please consult The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, for additional details.