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In this essay Julie W. Morgan and Richard K. Olsen explore the utility of a dialectical perspective for approaching and engaging in communication as Christians. After defining dialectics from both historical and critical perspectives, the authors then outline generic dialectics imbedded in almost any communication. The authors draw on the works of Leslie Baxter and William K. Rawlins and connect them to some common Christian presuppositions such as original sin. They then identify dialectics that uniquely permeate and inform Christian communication. The first pairing is that of “intention and perception,” as illustrated by the women with the issue of blood. The second is the pairing of “depravity and sanctification.” The awareness of this pair fosters a perspective and context for our communication. To overly sanctify language is lose sight of our fallenness and even the shortcomings of language itself. Simply to reconcile ourselves to depravity or the limitations of language is to lose the struggle toward truth and community. Ms. Morgan is Professor of Communication Studies at Eastern University and Mr. Olsen is Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.


A college student struggles with her mom’s decision to leave her father for another woman. The student is overwhelmed by grief. She misses her mom. Concomitantly, she feels the pressure from her church to condemn her mom’s new lifestyle. On a faculty personnel committee, members struggle with a decision regarding the promotion of a well-respected single father. How does justice and care play out in the decision? Does the documentation regarding his scholarship, teaching, and service warrant a promotion? Do his circumstances play any role in this decision? Many of life’s most difficult challenges seem not to be about one issue but a tension among multiple issues.

In his book Communicating for Life, Quentin Shultze offers the term “symbolic stewardship” for the approach Christians should have toward communication.1 He argues that communication is like any other of God’s creations and resources for humankind. It is the primary means by which we co-create culture. Shultze posits that every culture is co-created through four types of relationships: with God, with our neighbor, with creation and with ourselves.2 This assertion high-lights the relational nature of communication that is a key focus in this essay.

Leslie Baxter has argued that dialectic tensions are inherent within every relationship and that such tensions must be managed in an ongoing process of communication rather than solved in a single episode of communication. If both of these communication scholars are correct, what are the implications of Baxter’s insight on the four types of relationships outlined by Shultze to help Christian communicators become better stewards of symbol and communication in their relationships? Is there evidence of dialectic tension in our relationship with God and with others?

It is beyond the scope of this project to do a close examination of each relationship separately. However, there seem to be some common tensions that permeate all relationships—even our relationship with God. To begin to explore these connections we offer a brief definition of dialectics and an overview of two foundational scholars’ work applying dialectics to the study of communication. Next, we explore some additional dialects raised by other scholars that should inform Christian communication along the Christian journey, and finally we offer two examples relevant to Christians interested in applying dialectics to their symbolic stewardship. From this foundation and effort to highlight dialectics of particular interest to Christians, we argue that a dialectic perspective provides a uniquely healthy framework for Christians to engage in symbolic stewardship in a fallen world because it allows us to have realistic expectations even as we pursue divine ideals.

Defining Dialectics

Dialectics as a concept has its origins in ancient philosophy and rhetoric. Dialectic was understood by Aristotle to be an exchange of ideas that moved from opinion toward a demonstrable truth. In contemporary philosophy it was used by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel to identify competing opposites that needed resolution.3 It is this more contemporary meaning of opposites that Baxter and other dialectical scholars in communication invoke with the term.

Hegel’s efforts have been critiqued by Jacques Derrida, who struggles with the positivistic posture in Hegel’s stance. It will take us too far astray to enter their debate fully, but we must clarify the following. First, we agree with William Desmond, who argues that “there is a determination process more ultimate than determinate intelligibilities.”4 That is that the dialectic process is more certain than any conclusions we may draw from engaging in that process. Derrida also sees limitations imbedded in the (sometimes) artificial duality of dialectics, given his understanding of the human condition as fragmented and needing to be freed from such dualities. Derrida is also concerned about the dangers of reifying the polar terms of our dialectics. While those cautions are worth noting, from a functional standpoint, communication practitioners generally try to find balance between pairs of things. So yes, there may be multilectics or polylectics, but when we begin the process of determination and management, we generally break them down into opposing pairs to clarify the tensions. Thus any multilectic is often sorted as a series of dialectical tensions. One of the most central scholars in dialectics within communication studies, Leslie Baxter, while significantly influenced by Hegel, also feels constrained by his conception and has incorporated Mikhail Bakhtin’s notion of dialogue to help open up the concept of dialectics. A key advantage is that “from a dialogic perspective, contradictions are located in the communication between relationship parties” rather than merely at the poles or within the participants.5 The majority of scholarship within the discipline of communication studies has focused on this more open and functional approach and thus has found the concept of dialectic tensions sufficient for capturing the complexity and challenges of communication within relationships even if this conception may fall short in addressing the tensions between individuals and the larger power structures of culture and society. We now turn our attention to how the foundational scholars of the dialectic perspective have defined the central dialectics intrinsic to most relationships.

For Rawlins and Baxter, a dialectic is a “tension between two or more contradictory elements in a system that demands at least temporary resolution.”6 A key insight to take from Stephen Littlejohn’s summation is that most resolutions are temporary. This is consistent with Baxter’s reminder that despite the various uses of the term dialectic, “the two features that are common across various dialectical theories are process and contradiction.”8 Baxter calls these two types of dialectics external and internal dialectics respectively.

External Dialectics

The contextual dialectics include the tensions between public and private and between the ideal and the real. The actual relationship is a mostly private affair yet there are cultural forces that can inform that relationship. Furthermore, culture is often a source of ideals, and these ideals must be negotiated into the “real” friendship much in the way media scholars talk of preferred, negotiated, and oppositional readings of mediated artifacts. For instance, viewers of a show on television can adopt the meanings that producers and larger cultural forces intentionally promote through the artifact, or viewers can engage in the harder work of filtering and modifying their interpretation of the artifact to promote a set of meaning not originally intended by the producers. Relational dyads can also engage in active resistance to dominate meanings and expectations of relationships and create a very counter-culture expression of friendship. For example, John Eldridge’s bestseller Wild at Heart begins by pointing out that the dominant image of the Christian male and of male friendship is overly domestic and passive: the “nice guy.”9 Males within many Christian contexts then must work harder to enact what to him is a more “natural” mode of masculinity and friendship. The men at one of the author’s churches who have a motorcycle ride each Sunday after church in a group that includes some seriously customized bikes offer an example of a negotiated if not oppositional example of Christian masculinity in light of typical cultural stereotypes.

Internal Dialectics

Within friendship, four dialectical tensions emerge for Rawlins. The first is the freedom to be independent and the freedom to be dependent, which are similar to Baxter’s dialectic of autonomy and intimacy. Within healthy relationships, we want there to be an “us” without losing a sense of “you” and “me” as distinct entities as well.

The second dialectic is affection and instrumentality. This dialectic manages the friendship being an end in itself, and the friendship as a means to an end. At least as far back as Aristotle10 we have examined the motives and nature of friendship and chastised those based solely on practical benefit and cherished those based on mutual affection. Yet Rawlins notes the tension and interrelationship.11 What if I ask the object of my affection to help me move? Surely the answer of “No, I thought you liked me for me!” would seem extreme. Most relational partners—both platonic and romantic—make room for both “unconditional” and “practical” expressions of friendship. This tension may, to some extent, explain the difficult passage in Matthew 20. In this parable there are workers who have labored all day and workers who came later, yet the master pays them both the same. It clearly speaks to the sovereignty of the master, but it also seems to suggest that the relationship between God and man goes beyond instrumentality. There is—or should be—an unconditional display of affection one to another.

The third dialectic for Rawlins is judgment and acceptance. A friendship must negotiate the tension between unconditional acceptance and the advice and criticism of a “true friend.” We can clearly see this in Proverbs: “As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another.”12 Yet a sense of unconditional love and acceptance is also required. Jesus forgives Peter for denying him, and said to forgive your brother seventy times seven times.13 And Paul reminds believers not to be easily offended. These are just a few biblical examples where acceptance of the person supersedes judgment of the actions. However, it is the women brought before Jesus who has been accused of adultery that offers the most poignant example. In John, Jesus is asked to rule on a woman accused of adultery. When pressed, he suggests that the one without sin among them cast the first stone. Keys to a dialectic understanding of this story are in these verses:

When Jesus raised Himself up, He said to her, “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you?” She answered, “No one, Lord!” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go on your way and from now on, sin no more.”14

This passage shows the simultaneity of acceptance and judgment. The acceptance is understood in light of judgment and she is both accepted and offered a standard to which to aspire. Shuangyue Zhang and Laura Stafford explored honest but hurtful (HBH) messages and found that perceptions about the motive for the message played a larger role in how they were accepted than the perceptions about the value of honesty as an abstract concept, which highlights the relational dimension of this tension.15

Finally, the dialectic between expressiveness and protectiveness addresses the degree of spontaneity and strategy in self-disclosure. J. Grant Howard suggests that after the fall, humans have two communicative impulses: to hide and to hurl.16 These are the negative manifestations of the expressiveness and protectiveness dialectic. However, there are positive aspects as well. We must have reasonable but flexible boundaries for our expressiveness so that “How are you today?” from the dry cleaner clerk does not result in an extended disclosure of our darkest fears or a diatribe regarding our deepest frustrations. Yet, to be known as we hope, we must self-disclose.

A dialectic not addressed by Rawlins, but offered by Baxter, is that of certainty and uncertainty. Ongoing relationships should contain a certain degree of stability and predictability; however, they also should avoid becoming a lifeless routine. This dialectic is often at the center of an individual or church body’s relationship with the Holy Spirit. Some churches put great emphasis on “tradition, decency and order” while others express excitement that “God is doing a newthing.” Relational dialectics can exist at the individual and corporate level. The flexibility and rich heuristic quality of dialectics has inspired a wide variety of research within relationships. 

Dialectics has been productively applied to a wide variety of communication challenges. Here are a few projects that illustrate its application. Erin Sahlstein, Katheryn Maguire, and Lindsay Timmerman used the fundamental dialectics discussed above to illuminate the struggles of military couples brought about by deployment.17 Wives were asked about pre-deployment, deployment, and post-deployment challenges and within each phase a major dialectic emerged. Pre-deployment tensions centered on certainty/uncertainty. During deployment the main tension was autonomy/connectedness and upon return the openness/closedness dialectic emerged as primary. The dialectic perspective allowed the authors to address a gap in previous research that had looked at deployment only for the negative impacts but dialectics also allowed for positive dimensions to be integrated into a fuller understanding.18

Carinne Cools asks a similar question to the one that drives this essay: are there unique dialectic tensions to intercultural couples?19 She found some expected challenges of language and cultural norms, but the investigation also highlighted two unique dialectics: privilege and disadvantage was a tension that emerged as non-native speakers dealt with feeling less power when conversing in the non-native tongue. Belonging and exclusion was another unique tension. After a period of time some participants felt as though they were not natives in the host country nor could they fully return to their own country. In this example we can see the complementary dynamic of liminality interplay with the dialectic.

Researchers have also explored the socializing of in-laws20 and interaction within stepfamilies.21 In each case the application of a dialectic perspective served to highlight dynamics not illuminated in previous research. For example, Dawn Braithwaite and Baxter found that there is often a parenting/nonparenting dialectic at work: when asked, the child wants the stepparent to parent, but when it happens, there is resistance. This example highlights the simultaneity of many dialectic tensions. 

One of the authors of this manuscript even used dialectics to explain the appeal of sport utility vehicles within the American psyche.22 The various features of the vehicles became the site of negotiating the relationship we wish we had with the natural environment. With the versatility and utility of dialectics adequately established, we now shift our focus to some additional dialectics (broadly defined) as we move toward dialectics that are implicit in the Christian journey.

Other Dialectics and “Sort of” Dialectics

Baxter admits to dialectics being messy and muddy stuff. In addition, she suggests that many more dialectics exist within specific contexts and relationships than the short list she has developed. In this section we briefly look at three existing scholarly projects that are enriched by the dialectical perspective.

Carol Gilligan’s landmark analysis of women’s moral development and orientation can be understood as a dialectic.23 A sweeping summation of her work is that women, when managing relationships or solving problems, are mostly concerned about caring while men are mostly concerned about justice. An application of dialectics immediately highlights a more nuanced and dynamic reading of sex difference in moral decision making. There is a dialectic tension between justice and care. Males may wrestle with this tension with an orientation toward justice. Women may seek a balance point or resolution with a more astute sensitivity toward the care/relational aspects. However, neither decision typically comes at the complete absence of concern for the other pole. Certainly for the Christian seeking to become an effective communicator, the reasoning and expression of a moral decision should demonstrate an awareness of this tension.

Martin Buber’s work on dialogue illuminates and is illuminated by the concept of dialectic.24 Buber suggests that most communication is I/It and characterized by viewing the other as an instrument for “my” agenda. This is not always bad, but Buber claims we should strive for more within those occasions and relations that allow for or call for it. Going deeper and being fully authentic and treating the other as fully human and not as instrument helps us achieve an I/Thou encounter.

Buber notes that “The I is impossible without the Thou.”25 The inter-implication of I in Thou and Thou in I is consistent with dialectic tensions. Not every encounter can or should be an I/Thou encounter. The I/It encounter emphasizes the instrumentality discussed by Rawlins. The I/Thou expresses the acceptance he also identifies but with an unapologetically spiritual base. While Baxter uses the metaphor of the seesaw to help her readers visualize the dynamics of dialectics, Buber asks us metaphorically to walk the narrow ridge of commitment to self and commitment to others. In Matthew we are called to be as shrewd as serpents yet as innocent as doves.26 In this imagery there is a call to strategic communication and self-preservation while maintaining an openness toward the opportunity for fellowship, acceptance, and vulnerability: a narrow ridge indeed!

A final existing dialectic we briefly explore is one implied by Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson when attempting to organize major movements within twentieth-century theology.27 They organize various movements around the central theme of transcendence and immanence. In transcendence we understand that God is “self-sufficient apart from the world. God is above the universe and comes to the world from beyond.”28 God is also immanent; he is present and active within the universe and an integral part of the processes of the world and human history. The theological movements that Grenz and Olson cover attempt to find a balance point between these two understandings of God’s nature. However, a shortcoming of this approach (and in many cases the movements the authors summarize) is that it suggests that a single, stable balance point is to be found. Surely God, because He is God, does not need to find His place within this tension. He can be both simultaneously. However, we are far more limited; we wrestle with the dialectics discussed above—even in our relationship with God. For instance, in C. S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles we often see Aslan visit the children and offer direct intervention, and then purposely withdraw even while saying “I am always with you.” This fable reveals the ongoing process and tension between times of tangible immanence and times of transcendence within the relationship of God to an individual believer. In God’s essence He is both immanent and transcendent, but in the life of and relationship with a believer there is a dialectic tension between these characteristics.

Two Additional Dialectics of Concern to Christian Communicators

The previous section briefly illustrated how existing insights on communication, community, and theology can be interwoven within a common tapestry of dialectics. In this discussion we hope it is clear that we see dialectics as comporting well with a Christian worldview, generally, and as an insightful and useful concept for understanding specific aspects of the Christian journey. All of the dialectics identified by Rawlins, Baxter and the other scholars mentioned above can certainly be seen in operation within friendships maintained by Christians, marriages between Christians, secular and religious organizations staffed by Christians, and so on. In this next section we raise two additional dialectics central to communication for the Christian that are not currently tied to existing theories. The first is the tension between intention and perception, the second is the tension between depravity and sanctification.

Intention and Perception

In their classic text on the sociology of knowledge, Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann demonstrate the powerful role that language and human actions and routines play in shaping what we casually call “reality.”29That communicative acts can both create and sustain certain social realities must be taken very seriously, even by people who strive to perceive and align themselves with ultimate and unchanging truth. But the communication resources we have to work with are shaped by two central concepts: intention and perception. In the book of Mark there is the story of the woman with the issue of blood. She had bled for twelve years despite the efforts of physicians. We pick up the story in verse 28:

She thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. 30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 ”You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

In this passage we see the centrality of intention within communication. The difference between others crowding and pressing in against Jesus and the suffering woman’s hope-filled touch is intention. Jesus’ response clearly indicates the importance of this distinction. For relationship and communication to take place there must be intention and faith. In the case of the woman there is faith in Jesus as the source of her healing. In other encounters there is a faith in the very communication process and in the basic rationality and cooperative nature of the other person.

However, we cannot say that communication is solely a matter of intention, at least not for humans since the fall. God spoke things into being ex nihilo. With the narrow exception of speech acts such as marriage vows, we can only speak things into our perception. The zebra exists because God says so. We become aware of the zebra by naming it. After the fall, our perceptions are corrupted and the communication between God and man and Adam and Eve are changed significantly.

As a consequence of the fall we must recognize the role that perception plays in communication as well. It is our hope, as it was Paul’s, to overcome barriers brought about by varying and limited perception. In First Corinthians Paul remarks, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”He knows that he is now burdened with limited perception and understanding but that these limitations are temporary. Perhaps in recognition of this limitation he reminds believers to avoid even the appearance of evil lest they cause another to stumble. In these passages we have clear recognition of the role of perception in shaping interaction and relationships.

The tension between intention and perception is evidenced in a common conversation around death. After the unexpected death of a spouse, a friend says, “it is probably for the better.” The intention of the comment is related to the perception that the departed spouse is now with God, where there are no more tears, no more crying, no more pain. However, the widow perceives the comment as insensitive, given the sadness and mourning of the loss. The divergence between the intention and perception then shapes the subsequent interaction between the two participants.

This tension also is informed by the larger tension of the status and nature of truth generally within postmodernity. Veith noted that one of the primary characteristics of postmodernity is the relativity of truth and the absence of absolutes.Contrast this with Harry Blamires’ treatise on the Christian mind in which he argues that for Christians, “truth is supernaturally grounded: it is not manufactured within nature.”35 Thus in a very real sense the notion of intention as allied with the author’s truth, and perception as allied with the receiver’s limited (relative) understanding, are implied by one another in tension. To overemphasize intent is to ignore the reality of the “other” in communication. To overemphasize percep-tion is to fall into the trap of postmodernity that has minimized authorial intent and the possibility of Truth. Such a stance encourages tribalism around an almost infinite number of preferential totems. Conversely, a healthy recognition of intent provides us with the hope that we can accomplish great things with words—our intent can be realized—while a sensitivity to the role of perception can keep us humble about the finality of our own understandings and the complexity of the communication process.

Depravity and Sanctification

Just as transcendence emphasizes the otherness of God, so depravity emphasizes the otherness of man. In John, Jesus said, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world”36—clearly an indication of distance and separation. It is beyond the scope of this article to address fully the nature and implications of depravity in human communication and in our communication with God. However, we do assert that an overemphasis on depravity denies the power of prayer and communication to bring about change. As Howard notes, “At the heart of salvation is communication . . . [and] the process of sancification requires that we listen to what God has to say to us.”37

Sanctification is the maturation of a believer becoming more fully the person God has created him or her to be. Sanctification is not about losing oneself in God but in finding one’s true self in Christ. The idea that such a process can be carried out through various forms of communication (prayer, readings, contemplation, singing, intentional silence, listening) reminds Christians of the miraculous potential of communication.

To overemphasize our sanctified status or the sermonic dimensions of communication can deaden a valuable awareness of our sinful nature and limitations brought on through original sin. The biblical illustration from Luke of the two men who go to the temple to pray illustrates the consequences of this posture.38 The Pharisee reminds God of his own efforts toward sanctification while the tax collector is authentic about his depravity. In this story, only the tax collector goes away forgiven and justified before God. We are always in the process of sanctification, but we are never fully sanctified. To lose sight of that is to lose the bridge that connects us to the lost and our own humility.

An overemphasis on sanctification of the believer can lead to rigidity based on pride—the Pharisee saw no need for change. An overemphasis on the sanctifica-tion of language can lead to a similar rigidity. Reification, the treating of words as things, can lead us to ignore Ludwig Wittgenstein’s reminder that our language is too small to articulate the fullness of God. And even perhaps that our theological concepts are wrong even when they are linguistically clear.


This essay has sought to illuminate some fruitful connections between relational dialectics and a Christian understanding of communication processes. Christians who are sensitive to the ongoing journey of sanctification will, we think, grasp the nature of the ongoing process of managing dialectical tensions. Christians are called to become Christ-like, even though that status is far from our earthly reach. Likewise, we need to see balance as a process in our communication and relationships, as constantly managing the poles of various dialectical tensions.

We offered two dialectics that we feel are particularly central to how Christians should approach communication. The first dialectic discussed intention and perception. The tension between stressing the author’s production and the receiver’s interpretation can be seen playing out in the postmodern struggle between absolute Truth and moral relativism. The second dialectic discussed, human depravity and sanctification, permeates our communication with both God and man. Sensitivity to this tension can make us more aware of both the power and the limitations of communication. It can also helps us build common ground with those to whom we communicate since we all experience human depravity.

Augustine struggled many years ago with how to sift through ancient wisdom on rhetoric to improve the preaching of his contemporaries. For Christians today, existing theories of human behavior offer a similarly rich resource to mine. These theories, along with the scriptures, can guide our understanding and practice of communication. Dialectics is one such theory worthy of further examination.

Cite this article
Richard K. Olsen and Julie Morgan, “A Dialectical Perspective on Communication and Ethical Reasoning”, Christian Scholar’s Review, 41:2 , 135-146


  1. Quentin Schultze, Communicating for Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2000).
  2. Ibid., 19-20.
  3. Dagobert D. Runes, ed., Dictionary of Philosophy (New York: Philosophical Library, 1960).
  4. William Desmond, “Being, Determination and Dialectic: On the Sources of Metaphysical Thinking,” The Review of Metaphysics 48 (1995):743. Italics in original.
  5. Leslie A. Baxter, “A Tale of Two Voices: Relational Dialectics Theory,” The Journal of Family Communication 4 (2004): 184.
  6. Stephen W. Littlejohn, Theories of Human Communication, 4th ed. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1992), 280.
  7. Leslie Baxter, “A Dialectical Perspective on Communication Strategies in Relationship Development,” in Handbook of Personal Relationships, ed. S. Duck (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1988), 258. Italics in original.[/efn_note} This notion of temporality is an important reminder for Christians negotiating life in a fallen world. It is consistent with the approach to spiritual formation that treats sanctification as an ongoing process that will have both victories and failings until the Christian pilgrim completes the journey.

    Not only is duration of resolutions limited, but the scope of any given dia-lectic is as well. Rawlins’ examination of friendships revealed two general classes of dialectics: 1) contextual dialectics that address “the place of friendship in the prevailing social order of American culture,” and 2) interactional dialectics that focus on tensions within a relationship.7William K. Rawlins, Friendship Matters: Communication, Dialectics and the Life Course (New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1992), 9.

  8. John Eldridge, Wild at Heart (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2001).
  9. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, trans. William David Ross (Oxford: Clarendon, 1908).
  10. Rawlins, Friendship Matters, 17ff.
  11. Prov. 27:17.
  12. Matt. 18: 22.
  13. John 8:10-11.
  14. Shuangyue Zhang and Laura Stafford, “Relational Ramifications of Honest but Hurtful Evaluative Messages in Close Relationships,” Western Journal of Communication 73 (2009): 481-501.
  15. J. Grant Howard, The Trauma of Transparency (Portland, OR: Multnomah, 1979).
  16. Erin Sahlstein, Katheryn C. Maguire, and Lindsay Timmerman, “Contradictions and Praxis Contextualized by Wartime Deployment: Wives’ Perspectives Revealed through Relational Dialectics,” Communication Monographs 4 (2009): 421-442.
  17. Ibid., 423.
  18. Carinne A. Cools, “Relational Communication in Intercultural Couples,” Language and Intercultural Communication 6(2006): 262-275.
  19. See Carolyn Prentice, “Relational Dialectics among In-Laws,” Journal of Family Communica-tion 9 (2009):67-89.
  20. See Dawn O. Braithwaite and Leslie A. Baxter, “‘You’re my Parent but You’re Not’: Dialecti-cal Tensions in Stepchildren’s Perceptions about Communicating with the Nonresidential Parent,” Journal of Applied Communication Research 34 (2006): 30-48; Leslie A. Baxter, Dawn O. Braithwaite, Jody Koenig Kellas, Cassandra LeClair-Underberg, Emily Lamb Normand, Tracy Routsong, and Matthew Thatcher, “Empty Ritual: Young-Adult Stepchildren’s Perceptions of the Remarriage Ceremony,” Journal of Personal and Social Relationships 6 (2009):467-487.
  21. Richard Olsen, “Living Above it All: The Liminal Fantasy of Sport Utility Vehicle Adver-tisements,” in Enviropop: Studies in Rhetoric and Popular Culture, ed. Mark Meister (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002), 175-196.
  22. Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development, 6th ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 1993).
  23. Martin Buber, Between Man and Man (New York: Collier, 1965).
  24. Ibid., 209.
  25. Matt. 10:16.
  26. Stanley J. Grenz and Roger E. Olson, 20th Century Theology: God & the World in a Transitional Age (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992).
  27. Ibid., 11.
  28. Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality (New York: Anchor, 1966).
  29. Howard, The Trauma of Transparency.
  30. I Cor. 13:12.
  31. Rom. 14:2-21.
  32. Rev. 21:4.[/efn_not]eThen the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 33Gene E. Veith, Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture (Wheaton, IL: Crossways, 1994).
  33. Harry Blamires, The Christian Mind: How Should a Christian Think? (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant, 1963), 106.
  34. John 8:23.
  35. Howard, The Trauma of Transparency, 247.
  36. Luke 18: 9-11.

Richard K. Olsen

Mr. Olsen is Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Julie Morgan

Ms. Morgan is Professor of Communication Studies at Eastern University.