Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior

November 4th was election day all across our great nation. For the past few weeks we have all had to persevere through the various campaign ads formulated to either encourage or discourage us from voting for a particular candidate. It made me hatch a thought about how our founding fathers would have perceived this 21st century campaign marketing ideology. It also made me think about how we all address each other on a daily basis. Then I came across this tidbit of wisdom originally written a few centuries ago. Oh, how times have changed. And as silly as some of these rules sound, I think it much more appropriate behavior then so much of what society exhibits today. Even though one hand is always pulling us forward into the future, one is always pushing us back to the past. We can still learn from our countries history. Civility and good manners are never antiquated and out of style.

Romans 13:7  "Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed."


By age sixteen, Washington had copied out by hand, 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation. They are based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595. Presumably they were copied out as part of an exercise in penmanship assigned by young Washington's schoolmaster. The first English translation of the French rules appeared in 1640 and are ascribed to Francis Hawkins the twelve-year-old son of a doctor.

Today many, if not all of these rules, sound a little fussy if not downright silly. It would be easy to dismiss them as outdated and appropriate to a time of powdered wigs and quills, but they reflect a focus that is increasingly difficult to find. The rules have in common a focus on other people rather than the narrow focus of our own self-interests that we find so prevalent today. Fussy or not, they represent more than just manners. They are the small sacrifices that we should all be willing to make for the good of all and the sake of living together.

These rules proclaim our respect for others and in turn give us the gift of self-respect and heightened self-esteem.

Richard Brookhiser, in his book on Washington wrote that "all modern manners in the western world were originally aristocratic. Courtesy meant behavior appropriate to a court; chivalry comes from chevalier – a knight. Yet Washington was to dedicate himself to freeing America from a court's control. Could manners survive the operation? Without realizing it, the Jesuits who wrote them, and the young man who copied them, were outlining and absorbing a system of courtesy appropriate to equals and near-equals. When the company for whom the decent behavior was to be performed expanded to the nation, Washington was ready. Parson Weems got this right, when he wrote that it was 'no wonder every body honoured him who honoured every body.'"

Excerpt taken from:

Here are but a few "rules" that we should, or at least could, still adhere to today. How different would society be....?

  • Every action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.
  • Let your Countenance be pleasant but in serious Matters Somewhat grave.
  • Show not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy.
  • Superflous Complements and all Affectation of Ceremony are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be Neglected.
  • Strive not with your Superiors in argument, but always Submit your Judgement to others with Modesty.
  • Be not hasty to believe flying Reports to the Disparagement of any.
  • Use no Reproachful Language against any one neither Curse nor Revile.

Friday, June 27, 2014


Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain (now officially known as the United Kingdom). Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworksparadesbarbecues,carnivalsfairspicnicsconcertsbaseball gamesfamily reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is theNational Day of the United States.[1][2][3]
During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776, when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that had been proposed in June by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia declaring the United States independent from Great Britain.[4][5] After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by aCommittee of Five, with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the wording of the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife Abigail:
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.[6]

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Magic in Ordinary Days

     Job 12:7-10

But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will teach you; Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; And the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breadth of all mankind?

      Job 37:5

God thunders marvelously with His voice; He does great things which we cannot comprehend.

       Genesis 1:24-25

Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind"; and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

   There's magic in an ordinary summer evening…the lively sound of crickets, the light of fireflies sparkling like tiny floating jewels, and the warmth of a gentle breeze drifting by…add a cool glass of lemonade and you’ve made yourself the perfect summer evening. At least that’s my version of one.
    Catching fireflies never seems to go out of style. It’s one of those past times that children enjoyed a hundred years ago, and still do today. I caught myself trapping a few in the palm of my hand the other evening. I watched their soft pulsating glow before they walked to the tip of my finger and flew away. How magical, and how lovely a gift the Lord has bestowed upon us when he created them. You see, from my perspective, fireflies are more than a winged beetle known for their twilight use of bioluminescence; they are part of the grand makeup of our world created by God Himself. How thoughtful of Him to fashion such a perfect little being to “light-up” our world and give us precious childhood memories.

     The same goes for the cricket. Yes, I know they can be very annoying when they get caught in some small crevice in the house, and chirp non-stop all evening. Aaaargh. However, when they are outside it sounds, to me, like a symphony when added to the other evening birdcalls, and singing tree frogs.
     Did you know crickets chirp at different rates depending on their species and the temperature of their environment? Most species chirp at higher rates the higher the temperature is… (approximately 62 chirps a minute at 13°C in one common species; each species has its own rate). The relationship between temperature and the rate of chirping is known as Dolbear’s Law. According to this law, counting the number of chirps produced in 14 seconds by the snowy tree cricket, common in the United States, and adding 40 will approximately equal the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. Creation is amazing!
     I’m saying all of this to make a point. Stop for a moment to listen, watch, smell, and touch nature. Our Father created all things as a gift for us, His children. Let us be forever grateful for even the seemingly insignificant things like fireflies, and songs of crickets singing. It is in those precious still moments that one can catch a tiny glimpse of heaven here on earth.


Monday, May 12, 2014

When The Lilacs Bloom

       The sense of smell locks memories into place like super glue to the brain. For instance, a whiff of diesel fuel reminds me of traveling by train from the northeast to the west when I was about six years old. Walking out onto the platform to our passenger car I could smell the strong odor of the engines burning, while they waited to be put into gear. To this day that distinctive aroma will whisk me away to the large domed waiting room at the station, and the sound of train whistles blowing their arrival.
        Perhaps, for you, fresh cut grass brings flashes of carefree childhood summers, or the smell of chlorine fun poolside activity.  I would make a bet the smell of coconut infused sunscreen takes everybody directly to the beach. Aah, what a lovely gift the Lord bestowed upon us. Then again, perhaps not, because the sulfur smell at low tide is anything but pleasant.
         Lilacs. Now there is a smell most can appreciate. Its blooms are imbued with such a sweet, haunting fragrance, only God Himself could have created them. Yes, for some it may be too overwhelming an odor, but for most it’s a lovely beginning to summer. It’s disappointing, however, that the blooms only last a few weeks, but obviously that’s how the Lord intended it. Just like sugar, I suppose too much sweetness can be a bad thing.
        The smell of lilacs like many things at this stage in my life, typically take me back to some childhood memory. When they bloom, I am carried off to my grandmother’s yard, and it’s 1965. I am five, my brother is seven, and we are ecstatic as we run and hide beneath the purple colored, ambrosia filled branches. For a child, that’s about as close to heaven as one can get.
         I’d like to imagine the Lord in all of His love for us, would have lilacs blooming in Heaven when we arrive. I can just imagine the “pearly gates” opening up to a beautiful stoned, meandering, walkway lined with every imaginable, or perhaps unimaginable, blooming bush, plant and flower. Of course in Heaven everything, I’m assuming, would be kicked up a few hundred notches. The colors would go beyond our earthly, human spectrum. The fragrances would be like none our noses have ever experienced. Natures music would be as sweeping as a stadium-sized orchestra.  There would be an irrepressible, everlasting presence of beauty, sounds, and smells. Awesome is the only word I can think of to fit this scenario. 
         So, upon Junes arrival, I will indulge in the enjoyable recollection of sweet, summertime memories, and I will relish the notion of Heaven, when the lilacs bloom.

1 Corinthians 2:9  However, as it is written: "what no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived - the things God has prepared for those who love him -"

Monday, March 31, 2014

Is Youth Wasted On The Young?

Is Youth Wasted On The Young?

I think I know what George Bernard Shaw was attempting to say when talking about youth being wasted on the young.  Young people are in the best of health, their minds are clear and sharp, they're dreams are only as far away as their imagination can carry them.  I wonder if wisdom were given to the young, and health were given to the old, where would we be?  Seventy year olds' would be bungee cording, screaming "cowabunga", while the teenager looked on in horrified disbelief.  This is hyperbole, but you get my point. I would hazard to say the Lord gave us these timely “age” traits for a reason. Let me stereotype for a moment. The Millennials always seem to be more impetuous and impulsive, more willing to take a leap of faith in major decision-making, always assuming the outcome will be positive. Whereas the Baby Boomers or Gen X crowd are a bit more staid in resolving issues. They think things through at a slower pace, analyzing each situation. In a nutshell, the younger generations are like microwaves, whereas the older generations are like slow cookers. Each has favorable qualities, and each has negative ones.  I don't know the exact reason for this age-old conundrum, but I'm certain the Lord does.  He has equipped each stage of life with the necessities and knowledge required for that place in time. So in youth we are supplied with what is necessary to grow and learn and move and gather, whereas in old age we are supplied with experience and knowledge giving us better judgment and, hopefully, wisdom. Young or old, it is up to us to build on these Godly foundations and make them stronger. But, in the end, how does one explain to a twenty year old how time catches up with you all too quickly?  In the twinkling of an eye we are our parents, and the dreams of youth have slipped into memories of yesterday. It is only in the living that we learn life’s’ difficult lessons whether we want them or not.  In youth, we are impatient. It's all about instant gratification.  In middle age, we learn to take deep breaths allowing us time to contemplate.  In youth, we have all the time in the world. The days are an unending beach of sand. In old age, the days pass quickly by like the ticking of a clock.  If only we could manage to be more sagacious in youth and more optimistic with age then perhaps my twenty one year old niece will start a retirement fund, and I really will go bungee cording. Yikes.

I am glad to be through the age of indiscretion. Youth still holds some appeal when it comes to energy and less aches and pains, but I am not disillusioned in the discoveries of aging, for it brings a wiser more "grown-up" me, whom I like a whole lot more than my youthful counterpart.  I will still carry with me my childlike faith, my amazement of all creation, a love of roller coaster rides (see, I haven’t shed all of my youthful exuberance) and cotton-candy, but I hope I have set aside my childish ways.

Matthew 10:16  “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves." 

Isaiah 40:29-31
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.