Pounding the pulpit

I’m feeling rather evangelical…about…laundry detergent.

My girlfriend Michael Ann told me about it, bless her dear little soul. It’s the good stuff, biodegradable, fragrance-free, HE compatible and whathaveyou, but the best part is that if you subscribe to it on Amazon they’ll ship it to you for free! Michael Ann had told me about it before, but last week when I stopped by her house for a brief chat (and to pick up my kids that she was so graciously watching) she sent me home with a sample of the white powder. I guess it made her feel a little evangelical, too! That afternoon I clicked over to Amazon and signed up (no fee, no commitment—can change the subscription or cancel it at any time) to have forty pounds of Country Save Detergent (equals fifty-two dollars) delivered to my front door every six months. It arrived the very next day and I felt like a million dollars (you know, from that little high you get when you buy something, plus the coffee I was slurping…), but I haven’t gotten to use it yet since I’m using still finishing up the last box of Dollar General detergent, and now it’s raining so I’m not even doing laundry anymore…

I’m a little zealous about other, more heady, things, too, like books. I’m reading The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter (also recommended to me by Michael Ann—I’m tellin’ ya’, that woman belongs in sales) and am love, love, loving it! The story is simply Carter’s memories of when he was a young boy living with his Cherokee grandparents. It is a refreshing read, cleanly written and insightful.

Here’s an excerpt from what I read this afternoon while settling The Baby Nickel for his nap: “Folks who laugh and say … that Nature don’t have a soul-spirit, have never been in a mountain spring storm. When She’s birthing spring, She gets right down to it, tearing at the mountains like a birthing woman clawing at the bed quilts.”

And some more: “Then, when April gets its warmest, all of a sudden the cold hits you. It stays cold for four or five days. This is to make the blackberries bloom and is called ‘blackberry winter.’” Oh! So that’s what’s going on with the weather right now. Makes me feel a little better about this depressing dreary cold. At least we’ll have blackberries!

This is a book geared for adults, but I think it would make a fabulous read-aloud to children. In fact, I’m planning on reading it to Yo-Yo and Miss Becca Boo just as soon as I’ve finished it myself—I want to read it all the way through first, just to be sure it’s okay for little ears. Granted, parts of the book are still above their heads, but I’ll gladly read it again later on. It’s the kind of book that you may want to consider purchasing for your bookshelf—one that you’ll want to hand out to others because it is certain to give you that glory-be evangelical feeling.

The other book that I’m preaching is one that I borrowed from my sis-in-law, and then after I finished reading it I went ahead and ordered it on Amazon; it just came in the mail today. Nonviolent Communication by Marshal B. Rosenberg is a (sorry to say) dry read, but quite profound nonetheless. Even when the lines blurred and my eyes went shut, the intriguing ideas pulled me back to its pages the following day.

Ach, droning on and on in this depressing vein is very un-saleslady-like—nobody will ever read it if I continue on like this. But hey, I just want to be honest with you. Here, let me share a few of the book’s main ideas, or at least the main ideas that I got out of the book.

I thought the first part of the book was a little hokey (there I go again)—it was all about “I statements” and formulas (“I feel blank when blank because blank…”) and I don’t do that type of jazz (especially seeing as studies have proved them to be irrelevant—sorry to burst any I-Loving Bubbles out there). But as the book went on, it got into the parts on true listening and that part was man-oh-man profound. As in, dude, that’s deep. Basically, the key is to listen to the feelings and needs behind statements—your own and others. Sounds simple, but it’s hard—try it!

Another thing that Rosenberg says is that “should” is the most violent word in the English language. Take heed: you should never use the word “should.” Yep, and “ain’t” ain’t a word.

Some of the most (to me) profound ideas were on anger: “At the core of anger is a need that is not being fulfilled.” And, “Blaming and punishing others are superficial expressions of anger. If we wish to fully express anger, the first step is to divorce the other person from any responsibility for our anger. Instead we shine the light of consciousness on our own feelings and needs. By expressing our needs, we are far more likely to get them met than by judging, blaming, or punishing others.”

Any of you well-versed in the Christian faith will quickly realized that this has a shattering effect on our church’s teachings on salvation, redemption, and forgiveness. I’m not going to say more than that, just enough to peak your interest.

Whew! That’s enough preaching for one day. Gotta go mop my brow.


  • Margo

    I read NVC for a book club and it left me mostly puzzled. I just couldn't figure out how to DO it. I will try to read it again sometime, because I respect really love it.

  • Kris

    Preach it, Sister!

    Not about the detergent (never much liked powder myself) but about that book, that intriguing, challenging, life-changing book about Nonviolent Communication. I think I know what you mean about shattering the church’s teachings, as in, maybe Jesus died because those in power were threatened by the amazing way he lived, and not so much because God had to take out some supposed almighty wrath on someone, and did it on Jesus to spare us all. It is interesting to think about Jesus’ life in light of NVC principles, for instance, the cleansing of the temple.

    Frankly, I feel a whole lot more Christian in my thoughts and actions since I started using NVC (about 3-4 years now?). I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone, but especially to anyone who has a family or friends or co-workers or students… But don’t read it because you should. (I notice whenever I say that word now, and also “ought”, “have to”, “need to”… I do something because I CHOOSE to do it.)

    Read it because you are curious, or want tools for helping you give up resentment, or would like to know how to speak (and listen) respectfully to someone who really “pushes your buttons” (to use non-NVC language), or need new ways to discuss difficult subjects with your spouse or anyone, or want to express your feelings without blame.

    It saved my life and my marriage. No joke.

    Thank you Jesus!

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