Recently, I read a children’s book called Thanks a LOT, Emily Post! About 4 sarcastic children whose happy disobedience is hampered when their mother buys a copy of Emily Post’s Etiquette. It was so funny that I sent a copy to my mother. I don’t know whether she’ll laugh or boo when she gets it.
It called to mind an online conversation I had with a person trying to understand Christianity. This OP had unfortunately grown up in a home where the Bible was held over her head – sometimes literally! – as a criticism of everything she did. She asked me about this supposed conflict: is Christianity a religion of laws and criticism, or a religion of love? I told her that it’s both. I told her, while perhaps her parents were doing it the best they understood, I would not be surprised if they had never read the entire Bible – for themselves, openly, not skipping around from topic to topic or just looking to reinforce the opinions they’d already formed, or the teachings they’d already heard, or throwing away any part that didn’t already make sense to them.
“If you ever hear somebody quoting Emily Post’s book of Etiquette,” I wrote (checking three times how to spell “Etiquette”), “they’ll usually be criticizing the number of forks someone used, or how they wrote an invitation, or how the seating arrangements went. And it is true that you will find these things in her book. But if you actually read the book Etiquette, starting with the first page, not just skipping around for specific topics, you’ll find a different set of teachings.
“Post was clear from the start – and many times throughout – that good etiquette is about being kind and attentive and making people feel comfortable, even loved. If you got nothing else ‘right’, but everyone had a wonderful time and felt that they had been treated well, then you’ve been a good hostess. All the rules were meant to anticipate/forego possible problems and reinforce kindness to your guests. You put the forks here so that the guests can find them; you phrase the invitation this way so that no guest gets embarrassed by dressing for the wrong event or leaving behind someone you’d intended for them to bring; you put the chairs there so that it’s easier for people to break the ice with newcomers; etc., etc., etc…. However, if you arrange the forks ‘right’, phrase the invitation ‘right’, and arrange the chairs ‘right’, but treat your guests like crap, then you’ve failed.”
The Bible is the same way:
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:36-40
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to be burned as a martyr that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8
“Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” – Job 6:14
“A friend loves at all times” –Proverbs 17:17a
Good evening, and have a good weekend.
– Morgan Grace Hart
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