Thinking Out Loud

April 22, 2010

Better Than Roberts Rules of Order

You can’t expect to run a society by the rules of parliamentary debate, but it often seems like a little bit of civility and decency might be in order.   So it seems rather timely that George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation should be released by so many publishers over the last few years.

American kids grow up knowing the rules as part of a penmanship exercise, but the title is foreign to Canucks, Brits, Kiwis and Aussies.

Many different publishers have availed themselves of this public domain title with 24 editions printed since 2002 currently available.

One publisher, Applewood, has the lone currently-available pre-2000 edition in print and markets the book with this history:

“Copied out by hand as a young man aspiring to the status of Gentleman, George Washington’s 110 rules were based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595. The first English edition of these rules was available in Francis Hawkins’ Youths Behavior, or Decency in Conversation Amongst Men, which appeared in 1640, and it is from work that Washington seems to have copied. The rules as Washington wrote them out are a simplified version of this text. However much he may have simplified them, these precepts had a strong influence on Washington, who aimed to always live by them. The rules focus on self-respect and respect for others through details of etiquette. The rules offer pointers on such issues as how to dress, walk, eat in public, and address one’s superiors.”

Prices vary from $5.99 US for a simple 52-page edition to $37.95 US for a 180-page edition with commentary.

However, you can actually read all 110 rules at this Wikipedia page (#91: Make no Shew of taking great Delight in your Victuals, Feed not with Greediness; cut your Bread with a Knife, lean not on the Table neither find fault with what you Eat) … though it’s in desperate need of a Eugene-Peterson-Message-style update.   Or maybe they can get James Reimann, the guy who updated My Utmost for His Highest.

On the other hand, KJV-only advocates should feel right at home with the language this title presents.

Better yet, here’s a question to end on:  Do they still teach any of this stuff to kids today?   Maybe we need this to be more than a writing exercise.

Related posts in this blog:  Don’t Blame Seniors (Aug. 2009)

Another reason you’ve heard the word civility in the last few days:  The head honcho of the Assemblies of God removes his name from The Covenant of Civility, perhaps rather missing the whole point in the process.   Read that story here.

September 11, 2008

God and Governments (plural)

Filed under: Christianity, Church, Religion — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:02 am

Last week I rather accidentally stumbled on a blog page that is more of a private blog for members of a youth group.  I didn’t realize that at the time, but couldn’t resist jumping into their discussion.   I’ve decided not to link to it, since it’s not really a public blog, but here’s the question they posed:

[We were visiting a] church in Fort Worth this past Sunday. The sermon was about Christians and government. The preacher brought up a point that I have been wrestling with for three days now and I wanted to hear your thoughts. He stated (from scripture) that all governments were put in place by God. He stressed ALL governments…even someone like Hitler or Pol Pot. He implied that even if we don’t understand it, God has his purposes for installing some governments. I am sort of OK with that point (not really, but it wasn’t what bothered me most). He backtracked on himself and said that God works in two ways. Basically his argument went like this. If it is a good and just government then God actively worked to put it in place and if it an evil government then God passively allowed that government to take power for some reason. I just can’t get my head around that. It seems to me that either God is working actively in the world to bring about His purposes or He is allowing things to happen on their own and working through those events. I just don’t think that you can have it both ways. It seems like by doing that we are giving God a kind of revisionist history, making Him exactly what we need Him to be without Him becoming too scary or reproachable.

I wrote back:

The center of Jewish life was the prophets until the people asked for kings, because the surrounding nations had kings. God granted them this request, but promised them that there would be days it would bring regret and sorrow.

God is the most powerful force in our world, but not the only force. The fact is, the surrounding nations had kings first. As Christians we tend to focus on our Jewish roots, which include Kings, but the notion of Kings did not begin with the Jews.  As a theocracy, the prophets originally held the highest place in the hierarchy.  Then came the time of Kings.

Nonetheless, we’re commanded in scripture to respect those in authority over us (I Peter 1) whether in government, the workplace or families, but I’m not sure it’s accurate to say that God put specific leaders in place, except insofar as everything happens under God’s broader sovereignty.

I’d like to know how this pastor would deal with the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was part of the group who attempted to assassinate Hitler.

God gave us a notion of hierarchical government (singular) but it’s not right to say that God put all governments (plural) in place. I’m not saying the logic of the message is faulty, but there are certain nuances to it that might have been fleshed out more clearly.

Jesus also said to ascribe to government the things that belong to government, and ascribe to God that which is of God. We obviously face a choice of allegiances.

What was the purpose of that message? What was the “take away” life application?

So what do you think?   Did that pastor have a point to all this?

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