Monday, January 15, 2018

Turning to Miss Manners® for Help

To discern how we might live as nobler Christians, we are going to meditate on how Miss Manners® Rescues Civilization (New York: Crown Publishers, 1996). It’s her insightful discussion of manners and etiquette that might help us become more courteous—and thereby loving—witnesses to Jesus Christ.
If we were to summarize the Gospel, we might say that Jesus Christ is the truth who sets us free to love and leads us into fullness of life.
Because of Jesus Christ, every human being has two personalities. One, our Olympian personality, is structured in terms of the six conventional yet false and destructive gods of Olympianity. With his crucifixion, Jesus doomed it to destruction. The other, our Christian personality, is structured in terms of the truth, freedom, love, and vitality of Jesus Christ. With his resurrection, Jesus made it our bright future.
Our doomed Olympian personality defines freedom and love in the self-centered ways of its gods. It understands freedom to mean doing what it wants. It understands love to mean sharing affection with someone because doing so pleases it. So our Olympian personality freely shares affection with others as a means to its own satisfaction.
In contrast, our radiant Christian personality defines freedom and love in Christ-centered ways. It understands freedom to mean our grateful commitment to God for our gracious redemption by him from slavery to the gods. Love, then, means our commitment to nurture and protect others as ends in themselves. So our Christian personality freely affirms the well-being of others simply because it’s the right thing to do.
Because Jesus Christ is the truth who sets us free to love, we shouldn’t need to talk about any rules of love. As Augustine of Hippo said, “Love, and do what you like.” Yet all societies, cultures, and Olympian personalities on Earth are currently dominated by the Global Technological System (GTS). The influence of the GTS is universal, constant, intense, insidious, and destructive. The result is that even we ourselves, as Christians and churches, sadly and harmfully confuse Olympian with Christian freedom and love. We sadly relate to others in harmful Olympian ways while imagining that we are relating to them in helpful Christian ways.
To help us to clarify the difference, and to affirm noble Christian ways of relating to others in contrast to ignoble Olympian ways, we will reflect on values and guidelines discussed by author Judith Martin in her book, Miss Manners® Rescues Civilization (New York: Crown Publishers, 1996). “Miss Manners” is the pen name of Judith Martin. We will refer to the author as Miss Manners as we discuss her book.
Her book is all about manners and etiquette—what we refer to as courtesy. In her book, she gives ample examples of both rude and courteous behavior. More importantly, she reflects on how the painfully Olympian GTS has wrongly yet successfully persuaded us that rudeness is far more virtuous than politeness. By God’s grace and with her help, we may yet find our way back to the narrow path of freedom that leads through love to life. 

Copyright © 2018 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.