Saturday, February 12, 2005

Less bloggy circumstances

Took Candace to meet other junior and senior high school students yesterday. They are driving to Indianapolis to get together for the annual prayer and fasting retreat called the Gethsemane Challenge. Candace, Bethany, Jamey, and Aaron are going from our congregation. The main speaker will be Pastor Gordon Keddie. I don't even think of Candace being in high school much anymore. That's probably because she takes college classes and she had recently attended the college retreat. She says she's getting the best of both worlds this year - I agree. I have fond memories of my senior year - it was similar to hers in its fast pace and spiritual growth. Lord bless her.

Candace and I have a special early morning routine. She slips in my room every week day at 5:45 a.m. and gently shakes my shoulder so as not to bother her dad. I reach for my slippers, we make green tea, then we go to our separate devotional places. (I like to go in the pantry behind the fridge where it's WARM!)

Wednesday, Robert rose earlier than the rest of us because he traveled to Marion to an early morning men's prayer meeting.

Played volleyball last night with Amy and the gang. Amy's skills are improving. I told her that it just takes time and much repetition to get the hang of it. There are a lot of skills to master. Like when you bound forward to spike the ball, it requires timing to know if you need to go ahead and spike it, or dink it, or stay back and bump it over. (I love the verbs of volleyball.) She's coming along nicely. She'll participate in a volleyball clinic in March which will meet twice a week in the evenings. Everyone says that the clinic is an excellent opportunity to make great progress in one's skills. I'm glad Amy can go.

Now on to some random thoughts. I've been thinking about civility lately. At present, we don't seem to have much of it. I grew up in the midst of what I believe was a slice of a typical high society Southern city circle. My unique perspective was drawn back to an even earlier generation due to the fact that we were raised predominantly by our grandmother who moved among a circle of friends and acquaintances whose lives had been molded by the Great Depression and had emerged to live in the prosperous '40s and '50s. Civility ran high. I experienced the final phase of this fading civility in the '60s which was still preserved among these ladies and gentlemen while the world all around them rapidly fell apart. Some day I'll try to write more about the times grandmother dressed me in formal ware just to serve the ladies tea, or the extent of her expectations of our dinner table etiquette, or how her precise instruction in the proper use of the English language profoundly affected me. But for now I'll get to the point I've been aiming for. (Grandmother, forgive me for that dangling preposition.)

I've been wondering lately with questions running through my mind:
"Is civility relevant today?"
"If so, to what degree. I mean, is it so vital that we need it to coexist?"
"Is real communication possible without civility or is it just a antique shallow gesture?"
I'm not sure of the answers, but I have some thoughts.

By being civil to others, I mean doing things like listening. Listening is not only polite, I think it's necessary. How can we hope to have relationships without really listening? And I don't mean the kind of listening where one person stares at the other while keeping the mouth shut and occasionally nodding the head. I mean the kind of listening where our minds aren't simply clutching our own thoughts while refusing to listen with an open mind.

I realize we live in a world filled with the absolutes of God. I'm not speaking of having a mind that wanders beyond the scope of God's world (as if that were possible anyway.) We can still listen better, because I think we can learn much from those who have opposing views. Christians, of all people, should work at being able to identify the sides of opposing arguments. Not only are we responsible to know what we believe, we are also responsible to know what we do not believe. And we should able to express the whys. How can we properly do this unless we really listen? It's the only civil thing to do.

But just listen to me. I make it sound as if I go around being so genteel all the time. I don't. In fact, I can be down right beasty. Still, even though I don't claim to be an expert of this type of listening, it continues to be my goal. Elusive at times, but attempted none the less.

Let me share some favorite examples of civility - a positive one and a negative one.

I read somewhere that when Winston Churchill dispatched a letter to the Japanese Ambassador announcing that a state of war existed between England and Japan, he ended the letter with these words:

"I have the honour to be, with high consideration, Sir, Your obedient servant, Winston S. Churchill"

That sure was a polite way to address your enemy.

Churchill commented in his wartime memoirs that “Some people did not like this ceremonial style. But after all when you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite.” Showing us that even in extreme circumstances one can be civil.

Lord Chesterfield related the following story about the uncivilized behavior of some people:

"Many people come into company full of what they intend to say in it themselves, without the least regard to others; and thus charged up to the muzzle are resolved to let it off at any rate. I knew a man who had a story about a gun, which he thought a good one, and that he told it very well. He tried all means in the world to turn the conversation upon guns; but, if he failed in his attempt, he started in his chair, and said he heard a gun fired; but when the company assured him they heard no such thing, he answered, perhaps then I was mistaken; but, however, since we are talking of guns— and then told his story, to the great indignation of the company."

So you're thinking, "Well, isn't blogging a form of allowing one to ramble on a favorite subject 'til the end of time without any sense of civility to others?" ::scratches head:: Well, I suppose you're right. I guess I was thinking about civility in less bloggy circumstances. :-D

1 comment:

# 47 said...

Wow. As usual, this's deep and challenging stuff (as for Sir Winston, let's put him in a class by himself!). Yes I think we all veer off into the silent nodding stage and walk off thinking we've done our job. What people may need is for us to assimilate it, or be confronted by what we hear.

Also love hearing about great-Grandmother and what kindof life there used to be. Keep it up. :o)

Don't worry about the bloggies :D. Figuring out your own interworkings teaches us too.