I’ve spent the last several months thinking about the utter waste in our nation. We waste resources, education, and effort on a wealth of idolatrous pursuits that are at the epicenter of American culture. It makes me sad. It is deeply sinful. And one of the saddest parts about it is that the American church has done or is doing very little to call it’s people to repentance. Shame on us.
I once dated a girl that had attended a private Catholic school. At this school they spent about four hours a day learning manners. When she finally entered public school she was clueless when it came to the simplest of mathematical principles, but she knew what a salad fork was. One of the best lectures I ever heard in college came from my English Comp professor, who spent an hour explaining why grammar is silly. What do these two stories have in common? Etiquette.
In a lot of ways etiquette is stupid. We put such a high value on something of pretend importance that we often degrade people based on a perceived, and altogether faulty, system with absolutely no actual value. In a lot of ways we lift up etiquette as an idol, especially when we use it as a tool to pass a sinful judgement on someone.
Sometimes people smell bad. We snicker about it, or demean them, but how often do we hug them? How often do we give them a place of honor, instead of mockery? When did the value of their aroma surpass the worth of their humanity and dignity. It didn’t.
Of course, there are some people who are blatantly rude. We call that being obnoxious. But really we only see them as obnoxious because they have infringed on our perception of acceptable social mores.
Etiquette is dumb. Like so many other things in our lives, it is a type of idolatry. Whether its a system of ideas that gauges how we value someone’s appearance and image, a method of criticizing someone’s written or spoken word, or an elaborately imagined acceptable formula for “appropriate” dining behavior, it has no value–and the moment we place more value on it than we do on the person committing an imagined infraction, we are idolaters.
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