In 2013 I became aware of Mr. Washington’s “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.”  Shortly thereafter, I had the privilege of participating in a wreath laying ceremony and the recitation of a prayer he had written.  This took place at the tomb of this well respected and beloved man who’s contributed so much to our country.  Mr. Washington completed these rules when he was a young man.  They became very popular and helped set the stage for the man he would eventually become.

I had hoped to review these rules back in 2013, but only found the time to review the first 40 or so.  Yesterday, President’s Day, I was grateful to run across them again and make time for them.

A knowledge of good manners is helpful when we don’t know others, helping to ease the tensions often associated with meeting new people or spending time with those highly esteemed; not having a sense of good manners can worsen that tension.

Sadly, many people, such as myself, do not receive any formal education in good manners.  We’re left learning from our mistakes if we aren’t able to pick up on those around us, or from what we might learn and enact from TV.

Regrettably, we have an immature tendency to behave like apes when one member of the group seems to have been ostracized or has been shunned or reproved, acting as though that person has some kind of social leprosy.  Perhaps that person is unable to hide that they’re not feeling included and others respond as if there’s a genuine reason for it, avoiding that person like they’re contagious.  This, sadly, has a tendency to reinforce that person’s low self-esteem.  Some may feel as though they’ve been lastingly shunned due to the initial impressions others might have received from them.

However, we know from genetic advances, as well as from studying environmental influences, particularly those related to post-traumatic stress disorder, that there can be a biological predisposition towards these kinds of feelings, as though a person has been ostracized, even if they haven’t actually been treated poorly.  Thankfully, where this pattern emerges, medical treatment in the form of serotonin and/or norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors can help that person feel more naturally included, even spontaneous, creative, up-beat and joyful, the person they know themselves to actually be.

Coffee and alcohol both help increase the effects of these neurotransmitters, whether directly or indirectly, helping to explain why they’re often a welcomed part of social get-togethers.  Caffeine tends to increase norepinephrine activity while alcohol influences serotonin and dopamine.  Unfortunately, when the underlying causes of feeling unwell are the result of poor manners and crass behavior, no amount of alcohol can brighten a person up, though they may drink more and more, even develop an unhealthy habit.

It is known from studying apes in nature that when one of the members of the group has been shunned, that ape is more likely to suffer illness as a result.  There is a known correlation between physical illness and cortisol, a stress related hormone released in response to stress.

In regards to those situations where one may feel shunned, and there is neither a biological reason nor a sound sociological one, thankfully, instituting Christ’s message of inclusiveness, openness and forgiveness helps each of us to restore that person and strengthen one another.

This enactment of love was the focus of Sunday’s homily, following the oration of the these passages:

First Reading: Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron,
“If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch
which appears to be the sore of leprosy,
he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest,
or to one of the priests among his descendants.
If the man is leprous and unclean,
the priest shall declare him unclean
by reason of the sore on his head.

“The one who bears the sore of leprosy
shall keep his garments rent and his head bare,
and shall muffle his beard;
he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’
As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean,
since he is in fact unclean.
He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.”

Gospel reading: Mark 1:40-45

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched him, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning the him sternly, he dismissed him at once.

He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”

The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

Good manners provide comfort when we feel unsure of how we should behave and they help us to treat others respectfully, even if they seem to have caught some form of social leprosy.  However, such guidelines are not without need for reproof and reevaluation, especially in the context of living out a call to a higher purpose.  Some situations require reassessing how we’d respond, not because doing what everyone else seems to do appears socially acceptable or because they’re contained within rules of civility, but because acting a certain way contrary to the norm is in more accordance with divinely inspired acts.  It is good to have proper manners for those situations where rank, dignity, affluence, and wealth commensurate with greater respectfulness, but it is negligent of a quality man not to apply those manners to everyone, particularly to all members of the Body of Christ, which when understood in an optimistic sense, could be every person you meet.

In light of these considerations, where deemed appropriate, I’ve revisited George Washington’s “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation,” and included comments under those rules that would require extra consideration, whether in light of living in accordance with a divine purpose or in reference to customs prevalent today.

1st          Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.

2nd        When in Company, put not your Hands to any Part of the Body, not usually Discovered.

You’ll notice sometimes that people will cross their arms, tucking their hands under their arms.  Crossing one’s arms might suggest being closed off from those nearby.  Conversely, lettings one’s arms dangle, folding one’s hands in front or in back of oneself, or placing them in one’s pockets, might convey a greater sense of relaxed openness.

3rd         Show Nothing to your Friend that may affright him.

4th         In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet.

5th         If You Cough, Sneeze, Sigh, or Yawn, do it not Loud but Privately; and Speak not in your Yawning, but put Your handkerchief or Hand before your face and turn aside.

It is generally a good idea for a gentleman to carry a handkerchief.

Sometimes men have an extremely loud sneeze.  They may believe this is necessary but as one who has been able to tone down the loudness of sneezes, it may be worth a closer look.

It is possible to yawn without opening ones mouth, inhaling from the nose while only partially opening the jaw.  This milder form of a yawn can help avoid offending someone presenting or speaking, but might take a bit of practice and doesn’t feel quite as fulfilling as a regular one.

6th         Sleep not when others Speak, Sit not when others stand, Speak not when you Should hold your Peace, walk not on when others Stop.

It is not always easy to know when to hold your peace.  Conversations tend to be dynamic, with interjections ebbing and flowing.  A balance and rhythm is usually discerned, helping to avoid offensiveness.  However, those who have Asperger’s disease do not often sense that another may have lost interest in a conversation and continue talking, or may speak at times or about matters inappropriate.  Be as merciful to these folks as you’re able.  If it is understood that a person has this disorder, it’s easier not to become offended when inappropriate comments or excessively lengthy conversations emerge.

Interrupting a speaker or event, should you feel your comments cannot wait or be addressed in a more appropriate manner, may end with you being asked to leave the event or being forcefully removed if you’re so passionate so as to lose control.

7th        Put not off your Cloths in the presence of Others, nor go out your Chamber half Dressed.

8th        At Play and at Fire its Good manners to Give Place to the last Commer, and affect not to Speak Louder than Ordinary.

9th        Spit not in the Fire, nor Stoop low before it neither Put your Hands into the Flames to warm them, nor Set your Feet upon the Fire especially if there be meat before it.

10th       When you Sit down, Keep your Feet firm and Even, without putting one on the other or Crossing them.

11th        Shift not yourself in the Sight of others nor Gnaw your nails.

Don’t draw too much attention to yourself.

12th       Shake not the head, Feet, or Legs roll not the Eyes lift not one eyebrow higher than the other wry not the mouth, and bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near him when you Speak.

13th       Kill no Vermin as Fleas, lice ticks &c in the Sight of Others, if you See any filth or thick Spittle put your foot Dexterously upon it if it be upon the Cloths of your Companions, Put it off privately, and if it be upon your own Cloths return Thanks to him who puts it off.

If someone has food stuck in their teeth, politely notify them.  If they have sticks, leaves or twigs stuck in their hair, or if a bird has answered the call of nature upon their head without them knowing, politely notify them.

14th       Turn not your Back to others especially in Speaking, Jog not the Table or Desk on which Another reads or writes, lean not upon any one.

Don’t kick the back of the chair of someone sitting in front of you.  Don’t rock back and forth if chairs are connected so that everyone rocks with you.

15th      Keep your Nails clean and Short, also your Hands and Teeth Clean yet without Showing any great Concern for them.

16th      Do not Puff up the Cheeks, Loll not out the tongue rub the Hands, or beard, thrust out the lips, or bite them or keep the Lips too open or too Close.

17th      Be no Flatterer, neither Play with any that delights not to be Play’d Withal.

If someone is glum, not in their usually cheerful disposition, you might be able to cheer them up, but if you act frivolously, goofy or flighty in the hopes of cheering them up, you might offend or annoy them.

18th      Read no Letters, Books, or Papers in Company but when there is a Necessity for the doing of it you must ask leave: come not near the Books or Writings of Another so as to read them unless desired or give your opinion of them unasked also look not nigh when another is writing a Letter.

Be careful using your cell phone in the company of others, it may be taken as a sign of disrespect.

19th       Let your Countenance be pleasant but in Serious Matters Somewhat grave.

20th     The Gestures of the Body must be Suited to the discourse you are upon.

21st        Reproach none for the Infirmities of Nature, nor Delight to Put them that have in mind thereof.

Don’t laugh if someone puts another down.  Consider gently correcting that person towards greater empathy.

22nd    Show not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy.

23rd     When you see a Crime punished, you may be inwardly Pleased; but always show Pity to the Suffering Offender.

24th      Do not laugh too loud or too much at any Public Spectacle.

Be careful not to cough or clear your throat loudly so as to draw attention to yourself or show your approval or disapproval. Most likely you can hold that sense of an itch in the back of your throat or gently clear it without making much of a sound.

25th      Superfluous Complements and all Affectation of Ceremony are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be Neglected.

Affectation: to draw attention to oneself, possibly misinterpreted as being overly sincere in order to impress, bordering on flattery.  Be mindful to make others feel comfortable, not outdoing others in gestures of kindness or respect in order to draw attention to oneself and with concern for not making another feel that their gesture(s) were insufficient or less valuable.  Build up one another.  Avoid flattery.  Consider abstaining from comments about a persons physical characteristics, such as how tall they are.  There’s a fair chance that this person hears about how tall or how short they are often enough and would rather talk about something else.

26th      In Pulling off your Hat to Persons of Distinction, as Noblemen, Justices, Churchmen &c make a Reverence, bowing more or less according to the Custom of the Better Bred, and Quality of the Person. Amongst your equals expect not always that they Should begin with you first, but to Pull off the Hat when there is no need is Affectation, in the Manner of Saluting and resaluting in words keep to the most usual Custom.

27th       Tis ill manners to bid one more eminent than yourself be covered as well as not to do it to whom it’s due Likewise he that makes too much haste to Put on his hat does not well, yet he ought to Put it on at the first, or at most the Second time of being asked; now what is herein Spoken, of Qualification in behavior in Saluting, ought also to be observed in taking of Place, and Sitting down for ceremonies without Bounds is troublesome.

If you’re going to shake hands with someone or hug someone while greeting or leaving a group of people, where some may not be as well acquainted, be mindful that doing so may be seen as ostentatious, though not necessarily intended. Consider not shaking hands or hugging someone unless planning to do so with all who are present.  Also, consider ceasing all ongoing conversation when someone new comes along, making it easy for them to join in the conversation by briefing them, resuming the conversation when appropriate.  The person speaking should be careful so as not to interpret the interruption as disrespectful, or be readily annoyed.  The one who greets the newcomer should introduce them to the others if they’re unacquainted, using the name of each person in the group before that of the newcomer, e.g. if Simon is the newcomer, Robert this is Simon, Mike… Simon, Dan… (It’s not necessary to repeat Simon’s name again unless one of those present missed it the first two times), Abel…, etc.

When a group reaches around seven people, newcomers should attempt to find another group so as to avoid excessive interruptions.  If they’re already friends with those in the group, this is less of a concern, but when a group is over seven to nine people, it may be difficult to hear one another as the circle expands.  Also, with a larger number, it is more likely that one or two will lose interest in the conversation and leave, allowing some cycling.  In this case, it is generally okay to casually exit without saying goodbye.  If you’re the one speaking, resist the temptation to acknowledge their exit; if you believe they simply can’t live without what it is you’re discussing, try as best you can not to be offended or embarrassed.  If you become embarrassed, try to enjoy and appreciate the sensation of the blood rushing to your cheeks and/or drop of sweat trickling down your arm, it’s your body reminding you that you’re not dead.

Turning one’s eye contact away from the face of one who is speaking can be interpreted as not being interested.  When conversation seems to be dragging on, when your patience is too thin to entertain any more of it, this gesture is a polite way of signaling for an exit or another conversation subject.  Conversely, it may be interpreted the wrong way.

Make an effort to smile or in some way politely acknowledge those you meet, even if in a hurry.

28th     If any one come to Speak to you while you are Sitting Stand up though he be your Inferior, and when you Present Seats let it be to every one according to his Degree.

Because different degrees or accomplishments may have varying levels of value according to the person hosting the event, he or she may choose to organize seating arrangements according to degree or accomplishment, depending on the nature of the visit, or may find a less hierarchical manner, such as according to alphabetical order of name or time of arrival, providing arrival times aren’t staggered, so as to avoid offending one arriving at a later time.

29th     When you meet with one of Greater Quality than yourself, Stop, and retire especially if it be at a Door or any Straight place to give way for him to Pass.

Respect your elders and those deserving of great respect.

30th     In walking the highest Place in most Countries Seems to be on the right hand therefore Place yourself on the left of him whom you desire to Honor: but if three walk together the middest Place is the most Honorable the wall is usually given to the most worthy if two walk together.

If walking with a lady, a gentleman should take the side closest to the street.

31st       If any one far Surpasses others, either in age, Estate, or Merit yet would give Place to a meaner than himself in his own lodging or elsewhere the one ought not to accept it, So he on the other part should not use much earnestness nor offer it above once or twice.

Consider declining a gesture of kindness, such as a friend offering to pay for your meal, accepting only if they offer twice.  Remember to offer first next time, should you meet again.

32nd    To one that is your equal, or not much inferior you are to give the chief Place in your Lodging and he to who ‘is offered ought at the first to refuse it but at the Second to accept though not without acknowledging his own unworthiness.

33rd     They that are in Dignity or in office have in all places Precedency but whilst they are Young they ought to respect those that are their equals in Birth or other Qualities, though they have no Public charge.

34th     It is good Manners to prefer them to whom we Speak before ourselves especially if they be above us with whom in no Sort we ought to begin.

35th       Let your Discourse with Men of Business be Short and Comprehensive.

The greater your vocabulary and practice in speaking to someone of great achievement or position, in the hopes of impressing them or securing a contract, the more likely you’ll avoid superfluity.

36th     Artificers & Persons of low Degree ought not to use many ceremonies to Lords, or Others of high Degree but Respect and highly Honor them, and those of high Degree ought to treat them with affability & Courtesy, without Arrogance.

37th      In speaking to men of Quality do not lean nor Look them full in the Face, nor approach too near them at lest Keep a full Pace from them.

Show respect for another’s personal space, usually the length of their arm.

38th     In visiting the Sick, do not Presently play the Physician if you be not Knowing therein.

Don’t pretend to know something you don’t know, or don’t know very much about, especially to seem impressive or to avoid being seen as ignorant.  No one knows everything, except God the Father.  Acknowledge someone who’s an expert.  If you make a mistake, do your best not to embarrass yourself and insult the intelligence of others by accepting it rather than trying to cover it up.

39th     In writing or Speaking, give to every Person his due Title According to his Degree & the Custom of the Place.

40th      Strive not with your Superiors in argument, but always Submit your Judgment to others with Modesty.

Arguing can get you in trouble.  Consider these insights from the book of Proverbs:

“Those who ignore instruction despise themselves,
but those who heed admonition gain understanding.”

“A fool despises a parent’s instruction,
but the one who heeds admonition is prudent.”

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but those who hate to be rebuked are stupid.”

And the words of Christ Jesus,

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

And those of St. Paul,

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”

41st       Undertake not to Teach your equal in the art himself Professes; it Savours of arrogance.

42nd    Let thy ceremonies in Courtesy be proper to the Dignity of his place with whom thou converses for it is absurd to act the same with a Clown and a Prince.

Try not to take situations too seriously, but mindful of the setting.  A prince can be disguised as a clown and vice versa.  In the Body of Christ, distinctions such as these dissolve, every person should be treated with the same graciousness and respect.  Nonetheless, those who clown around excessively or inappropriately are likely to be regarded unfavourably.  Alternatively, too much seriousness is burdensome.

43rd     Do not express Joy before one sick or in pain for that contrary Passion will aggravate his Misery.

44th      When a man does all he can though it Succeeds not well blame not him that did it.

45th       Being to advise or reprehend any one, consider whether it ought to be in public or in Private; presently, or at Some other time in what terms to do it & in reproving Show no Sign of Cholar but do it with all Sweetness and Mildness.

46th      Take all Admonitions thankfully in what Time or Place Soever given but afterwards not being culpable take a Time & Place convenient to let him know it that gave them.

Appreciate constructive criticism.  If undeserved, find a suitable time and place to inform the giver of wrongfully directed advice.

47th       Mock not nor Jest at any thing of Importance break [n]o Jest that are Sharp Biting and if you Deliver any thing witty and Pleasant abstain from Laughing thereat yourself.

Many jokes are offensive, avoid approving through laughter those that are inappropriate, if you can.

48th      Wherein you reprove Another be unblameable yourself; for example is more prevalent than Precepts.

49th     Use no Reproachful Language against any one neither Curse nor Revile.

50th      Be not hasty to believe flying Reports to the Disparagement of any.

51st        Wear not your Cloths, foul, ripped or Dusty but See they be Brushed once every day at least and take heed that you approach not to any Uncleaness.

If an article of clothing has even slightest unpleasant odor that you can pick up, best to choose another.  Be considerate to those who smell less than wonderful, whether related to poor hygiene stemming from an untreated mental condition, such as depression or bipolar disorder; financial difficulties; halitosis (bad breath arising from a bacterial condition not easily treated); sweat unmitigated due to allergies from antiperspirants; hemorrhoids or other pathologic conditions.

52nd      In your Apparel be Modest and endeavor to accommodate Nature, rather than to procure Admiration keep to the Fashion of your equals Such as are Civil and orderly with respect to Times and Places.

53rd      Run not in the Streets, neither go too slowly nor with Mouth open go not Shaking your Arms kick not the earth with R feet, go not upon the Toes, nor in a Dancing fashion.

54th       Play not the Peacock, looking every where about you, to See if you be well Decked, if your Shoes fit well if your Stockings sit neatly, and Cloths handsomely.

55th       Eat not in the Streets, nor in the House, out of Season.

56th       Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for ‘is better to be alone than in bad Company.

Be careful not to hold in contempt those you deem unworthy of yourself.  The ugliest piece of coal can house the finest diamond; the finest steel goes through the hottest fire.  In the interest of bringing greater glory to God through His bride, the Body of Christ, treat others with equal kindness, building up one another.  Be considerate of the feelings of those who have made seemingly unforgivable mistakes or are less fortunate, seeming downcast as though leprous.

57th       In walking up and Down in a House, only with One in Company if he be Greater than yourself, at the first give him the Right hand and Stop not till he does and be not the first that turns, and when you do turn let it be with your face towards him, if he be a Man of Great Quality, walk not with him Cheek by Joul but Somewhat behind him; but yet in Such a Manner that he may easily Speak to you.

If you’re walking up the stairs with George, offer to shake his hand, don’t be the one to let go until he does and keep turned towards him as best you can as you walk together.  Let him be the first to turn away.  Then, let him go ahead a little ways but not too far so that he can still speak softly to you and you’ll hear him.

58th       Let your Conversation be without Malice or Envy, for ‘is a Sign of a Tractable and Commendable Nature: And in all Causes of Passion admit Reason to Govern.

Friendships thrive on trust, trust involves consistency –rash behavior hinders trust.

59th       Never express anything unbecoming, nor Act against the Rules Moral before your inferiors.

Set a good example, whether in public, while entertaining or on Facebook.  If drinking causes you to act foolish and crass, don’t drink that much next time.  Write it down while you’re drunk so you’ll be sure to remember the next morning.

60th      Be not immodest in urging your Friends to Discover a Secret.

Be respectful and considerate of other people’s privacy and shortcomings and don’t talk about them in a derogatory manner when they’re not around.  Try to hold them in high regards in your thoughts.  If you have something you hold against them, gently approach them in an appropriate time and place.  If they’re ambivalent, seek to approach them while with another friend whom you both share.  If they remain inclined to disregard your concern, if they’re recalcitrant and the friend with whom you previously shared the matter agrees that it’s worth further consideration, discuss the matter with a superior whom you both share and would submit to.  Be careful in forming friendships so that if a matter such as this arises, you’ll have recourse to amends.  Iron sharpens iron, don’t be afraid to call someone out if their actions are inappropriate.  If they care about being the best they can be, they’ll appreciate your rebuff, providing you do it appropriately, at the right place and time and without malice or anger.  If you can’t move past feelings of malice or anger, and praying hasn’t helped, consider finding a friend who can approach them on your behalf, someone who you would trust with such information who would want to help.

61st        Utter not base and frivolous things amongst grave and Learned Men nor very Difficult Questions or Subjects, among the Ignorant or things hard to be believed, Stuff not your Discourse with Sentences amongst your Betters nor Equals.

62nd    Speak not of doleful Things in a Time of Mirth or at the Table; Speak not of Melancholy Things as Death and Wounds, and if others Mention them Change if you can the Discourse tell not your Dreams, but to your intimate Friend.

If Jesus is your most intimate friend, and perhaps rightfully so, and you believe He exists also in the Body of Christ, meaning the Church, you may share your dreams with these members if you choose, and even with those who are not yet so inclined to be a part of the Body, given that you hold an optimistic attitude that they may become so if your dream might inspire them likewise.  If you offer to share such dreams and they decline to listen or show no interest or appreciation, strive not to take offense nor be pushy.

63rd      A Man ought not to value himself of his Achievements, or rare Qualities of wit; much less of his riches Virtue or Kindred.

Know that you are loved and valuable not because of what you’ve accomplished, whether spiritual or material, who you know, your status or your wealth.  Know that you are loved because you are a child of God; you were carefully, wonderfully made by a loving Creator, made to be with Him first and foremost.

64th     Break not a Jest where none take pleasure in mirth Laugh not aloud, nor at all without Occasion, deride no mans Misfortune, though there Seem to be Some cause.

65th      Speak not injurious Words neither in Jest nor Earnest Scoff at none although they give Occasion.

66th     Be not froward but friendly and Courteous; the first to Salute hear and answer & be not Pensive when it’s a time to Converse.

Try not to talk too loudly or seem abrupt in speech or mannerisms so as to come across in a pushy manner.  Chill out if the conversation is light and airy and you’d rather talk about what seems more thoughtful and important.

67th       Detract not from others neither be excessive in Commanding.

Try to be inclusive of everyone.  Be gentle in speech and mannerisms when attempting to urge another to something seemingly right or nobler, and do so privately if possible so as to lessen the perception of embarrassment or need for submissiveness, especially if the person seems prone to disdain correction and/or humility.

68th      Go not thither, where you know not, whether you Shall be Welcome or not. Give not Advice without being Asked & when desired do it briefly.

Constructive criticism is more welcomed by some than others, and better to give and receive after a friendship has been formed.  Sometimes you have to press forward, allowing some discomfort, before knowing where a boundary in a friendship might exist.  Perhaps friendship is not always possible with those whom you’d prefer friendship with, even within the Body of Christ.  Rest assured, this is likely the work of the Lord leading to something better.  Don’t give up, stay optimistic.  “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”  –Romans 8:28

69th      If two contend together take not the part of either unconstrained; and be not obstinate in your own Opinion, in Things indifferent be of the Major Side.

70th      Reprehend not the imperfections of others for that belongs to Parents Masters and Superiors.

Notwithstanding or superseding previous advice aimed at reducing imperfections, don’t take on more than you can chew and become overwhelmed when, as a member of the Body of Christ, you hope to sharpen and build up one another.  Ultimately, the one with whom you’ll have the best influence over, and perhaps the one who needs it most, stands in the mirror.

71st        Gaze not on the marks or blemishes of Others and ask not how they came. What you may Speak in Secret to your Friend deliver not before others.

There is nothing hidden that will not someday be revealed.

2Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 3Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.”  –Luke 12:2-3

Be mindful to speak highly of others as best you’re able, whether in words shared with another or in your thoughts.  Pray for those in need.

72nd      Speak not in an unknown Tongue in Company but in your own Language and that as those of Quality do and not as the Vulgar; Sublime matters treat Seriously.

If you’re inclined to express your love and adoration for Him through words unintelligible to nearly everyone else, as is often the case in a Pentecostal community, do so in a place that would not provide suspicion or consternation to those listening, especially those who’ve never known the Holy Spirit.  Do not look down upon those who decline to express their love for Him in this way, even though it may at times be more effective and efficient than usual words or even songs.

Avoid a potty mouth.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  –Ephesians 4:29 ESV

But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.  –Colossians 3:8-10

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.  –Colossians 4:6

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.  –James 3:10

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. –Proverbs 15:4

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.  –Exodus 20:7

For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  –James 1:20

“You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.  –Exodus 22:28

But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  –James 3:8

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?  –Jeremiah 17:9

73rd      Think before you Speak pronounce not imperfectly nor bring out your Words too hastily but orderly & distinctly.

74th       When Another Speaks be attentive your Self and disturb not the Audience if any hesitate in his Words help him not nor Prompt him without desired, Interrupt him not, nor Answer him till his Speech be ended.

To improve on the ability of speaking publicly, consider joining a Toastmasters club.

75th       In the midst of Discourse ask not of what one treateth but if you Perceive any Stop because of your coming you may well intreat him gently to Proceed: If a Person of Quality comes in while your Conversing it’s handsome to Repeat what was said before.

There aren’t to be distinctions among members of the Body of Christ, all are to be treated with graciousness and dignity.  If one is involved in a discourse, and a newcomer should come along, the one speaking should first consider introducing the person to those unacquainted, particularly if he or she knows the newcomer.  Thereafter, brief the newcomer on the topic and resume as before.  The newcomer should be careful not to begin a new conversation unless knowing the previous one was finished.

If a group stands at about seven or so and is talking together undivided, and you are a newcomer, consider searching for another group if one is available so that interruptions are kept at a minimum and all may stand close enough together to hear one another while speaking comfortably.

If Simon walks into the general vicinity of where people are meeting and greeting, and says, stand on one leg, don’t do it.  Because, he didn’t say “Simon says” first.

76th       While you are talking, Point not with your Finger at him of Whom you Discourse nor Approach too near him to whom you talk especially to his face.

77th       Treat with men at fit Times about Business & Whisper not in the Company of Others.

If you’re celebrating a day of rest together, such as the Sabbath day, be mindful of it and consider not talking about work related activities unless you know the other(s) might enjoy doing so also.

78th       Make no Comparisons and if any of the Company be Commended for any brave act of Virtue, commend not another for the Same.

Try to treat people equally kind.  When someone has received special recognition for something they’ve done, let them enjoy a few moments of recognition if they don’t become too embarrassed, know how to receive a compliment and are willing to receive it; do not readily pass the attention to another, especially if it is for the same thing.

79th       Be not apt to relate News if you know not the truth thereof. In Discoursing of things you Have heard Name not your Author always A Secret Discover not.

80th      Be not Tedious in Discourse or in reading unless you find the Company pleased therewith.

81st        Be not Curious to Know the Affairs of Others neither approach those that Speak in Private.

82nd     Undertake not what you cannot Perform but be Careful to keep your Promise.

It is better to under promise and over deliver.  Don’t be afraid to say no.  Often you can change your mind later.

83rd     When you deliver a matter do it without Passion & with Discretion, however mean the Person be you do it too.

84th     When your Superiors talk to any Body hearken not neither Speak nor Laugh.

85th      In Company of these of Higher Quality than yourself Speak not til you are asked a Question then Stand upright put of your Hat & Answer in few words.

86th     In Disputes, be not So Desirous to Overcome as not to give Liberty to each one to deliver his Opinion and Submit to the Judgment of the Major Part especially if they are Judges of the Dispute.

87th       Let thy carriage be such as becomes a Man Grave Settled and attentive to that which is spoken. Contradict not at every turn what others Say.

88th      Be not tedious in Discourse, make not many Digressions, nor repeat often the Same manner of Discourse.

89th      Speak not Evil of the absent for it is unjust.

90th     Being Set at meat Scratch not neither Spit Cough or blow your Nose except there’s a Necessity for it.

91st        Make no Show 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.

92nd     Take no Salt or cut Bread with your Knife Greasy.

93rd     Entertaining any one at the table, it is decent to present him with meat; Undertake not to help others undesired by the Master.

Manners observed while sharing a meal together have a great deal to do with helping everyone feel at ease.  Excessive attention to manners can be unkind.

94th      If you Soak bread in the Sauce let it be no more than what you put in your Mouth at a time and blow not your broth at Table but Stay till Cools of it Self.

95th      Put not your meat to your Mouth with your Knife in your hand neither Spit forth the Stones of any fruit Pie upon a Dish nor Cast anything under the table.

96th     It’s unbecoming to Stoop much to ones Meat Keep your Fingers clean & when foul wipe them on a Corner of your Table Napkin.

97th       Put not another bit into your mouth till the former be swallowed. Let not your morsels be too big for the jowls.

98th     Drink not nor talk with your mouth full; neither gaze about you while you are drinking.

99th     Drink not too leisurely nor yet too hastily. Before and after drinking, wipe your lips; breath not then or ever with too great a noise, for its uncivil.

100th    Cleanse not your teeth with the table cloth napkin, fork, or knife; but if others do it, let it be done without a peep to them.

101st     Rinse not your mouth in the presence of others.

102nd   It is out of use to call upon the company often to eat; nor need you drink to others every time you drink.

103rd    In the company of your betters, be not longer in eating than they are; lay not your arm but only your hand upon the table.

104th    It belongs to the chiefest in company to unfold his napkin and fall to meat first, but he ought then to begin in time & to dispatch with dexterity that the slowest may have time allowed him.

105th    Be not angry at the table whatever happens & if you have reason to be so, show it not; put on a cheerful countenance especially if there be strangers, for good humor makes one dish of meat a feast.

106th   Set not yourself at the upper of the table; but if it be your due or that the master of the house will have it so, contend not, least you should trouble the company.

107th    If others talk at the table, be attentive but talk not with meat in your mouth.

108th    When you speak of God or his attributes, let it be seriously & with reverence. Honor & obey your natural parents although they be poor.

109th    Let your recreations be manful not sinful.

110th     Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

How wonderful are these rules?!  As you might have thought, I especially liked the last three.

I began these considerations yesterday, President’s Day.  A couple days earlier I invited a few friends to come over for a friendly game of poker using a deck of “The Presidents,” playing cards.  After everyone had arrived, we each chose a card from the deck.  That would be our president for the evening.  We could impersonate that president or go by their name or an associated nickname.

I had hoped to draw George Washington’s card, having spent much of the day on these considerations.  I drew William McKinley.  He was president during the Spanish-American war, which resulted in Spain ceding the islands of Guam and Puerto Rico to the USA.  He was assassinated six months into his second term.  Should I someday serve the public in a direct capacity, or from simply being a follower of Christ Jesus, I might share a similar fate.  I don’t welcome death, but I’m willing to die for His sake and in doing what’s right.

“There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends.”

One of my closest friends drew one of the cards for James Madison, the Father of the US constitution and first author of the Bill of Rights.  I’ve mentioned this friend in an earlier post.  He is the one who has a degree in Theology and Philosophy, who assisted me in changing my view from one who was pro-choice, or pro-abortion, in cases of rape.  This aspect of the issue may be the biggest reason why we don’t live in a pro-life culture –people don’t want to infringe on the rights of their fellow Americans, on a woman who doesn’t want the child conceived in her womb as a result of rape.

Only 2% of all abortions are related to this tragedy, which would include incestuous relations, while the other 98% are free to abort at will without Federal prohibition.  If a Federal law were to prevent these 98% of occurrences, the 2% might increase, not that the actual number of rape cases would, but the number claiming to have been raped might.  In this case, there are a number of ways a woman or couple not wanting to have a child, should a Federal law prohibit abortion, tell a story of having been raped, and potentially too few investigative resources to substantiate every claim.  There may be other cases why someone might tell a lie of having been raped, but whatever they are, unless all circumstances respect the right to life of the child, as they should, the solution will be imperfect if it allows abortion.

Perhaps we too readily fail to think about the rights of the child, who is not to blame for the horrible acts committed by his or her father.  Moreover, all unborn children, whether conceived as a result of rape or not, have an inalienable, God-given, right to life.  This right should be protected.

Below are a few excerpts from the Bill of Rights proposed by James Madison:

First. That there be prefixed to the constitution a declaration that all power is originally vested in, and consequently derived from the people.
That government is instituted, and ought to be exercised for the benefit of the people; which consists in the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right of acquiring and using property, and generally of pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
That the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their government, whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purposes of its institution.

Fourthly… The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed

The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.
The people shall not be restrained from peaceably assembling and consulting for their common good, nor from applying to the legislature by petitions, or remonstrances for redress of their grievances…

The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed, and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person…

The exceptions here or elsewhere in the constitution, made in favor of particular rights, shall not be so construed as to diminish the just importance of other rights retained by the people; or as to enlarge the powers delegated by the constitution; but either as actual limitations of such powers, or as inserted merely for greater caution.

Here is First Amendment, having been finalized:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

After discussing the cards we had picked, my friends sat down at the table while I finished adding mushrooms, olives and pepperoni to a few cheese pizzas I picked up at Costco.  My roommate was unfamiliar with Texas hold’em so a few minutes were spent explaining the rules.  Before long my first hand was dealt.  One card was a king of diamonds, proudly displaying George Washington, the other, a six of diamonds, proudly displaying John Quincy Adams.

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John Quincy was the son of the first Vice President, who eventually became the second President, John Adams.  The quote on John Quincy Adam’s card was,

“The best guaranty against abuse of power consists in the freedom, the purity, and the frequency of popular elections.”

In considering this, if the majority of American’s are pro-life, and major corporations and wealthy business owners stand to gain from sexual permissiveness, being indifferent towards the right to life, whether related to a profit motive or not, are our elections pure when they lobby or contribute to political campaigns that would oppose candidates or legislation supporting this right?

How long before Federal legislation will reflect that most American’s are pro-life, even if some of these would allow abortion in some circumstances, such as rape, incest or where the life of the mother is in danger?

As mentioned in a previous post, I’m not in favor legislation that would prevent a mother from choosing her own life over the life of a child if no other option is available, being faced with murder charges should she make that choice.  While she may choose to sacrifice her life for the child, and such an act is extremely noble if not saintly, legislation shouldn’t influence that choice one way or the other.

It is fitting to acknowledge that Providence already knows the extent of our technological ability to save the life of both mother and child.  When both cannot be saved, He knows –the decision as to who should live must be made by the mother and her family, acknowledging that her spouse, who would be the father of the child, would have a closer relationship to her than any other family member.  If they are not married, there is still a binding union, but not one made responsibly nor recognized by all.  In this case, her next closest of kin would be able to decide, should the mother be unconscious.

This consideration encourages matrimonial union and allows those members closest of kin, who are most likely the ones who truly love the woman, to decide, since otherwise the man would have stepped up to the responsibilities that commensurate with this level of closeness, and wed, committing himself to her and any new life that arises, “until death do us part.”

Since nothing happens that Providence does not allow, neither the mother nor other family members should feel a debt due to a transgression against the Creator, should the life of that child come to an end while attempting to deliver him or her, though giving priority to the life of the mother.  Rest assured He’d rather that one life be spared than both enter into the ‘deep sleep’ when no other option is possible; He is life affirming and fully capable of reuniting mother and child again when the time comes.

In the second hand I was dealt, and both hands were thoroughly shuffled, each by a different friend, in addition to receiving George Washington’s card again, this time an Ace of Clubs, I received Ronald Reagan’s, an Ace of Diamonds.

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Mr. Reagan is the oldest person ever elected president.  With age comes wisdom.  Perhaps it was wisdom that led him to state,

“I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.”

Without life, there can be no rights or violation of rights –the most basic and fundamental right is the right to life.

I placed his quote at the end of the testimony I’d written on 11/11/11 so it was especially meaningful for me to have been dealt his card.

As you can imagine, I was ecstatic that I received George Washington in both my first and second hands.  The odds of receiving him in both the first and second hand were slim, even if he is in the deck twice.  There were also two cards for Theodore Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes and Abraham Lincoln.

Awhile back I entered into a discussion in an online atheist forum.  One of the defendants of atheism claimed that America doesn’t have a religious background.  He was responding to a claim that I had made regarding the opening statement in the Declaration of Independence, namely

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

This was my reply,

Dear Zack,

I wanted to take another moment to add comments to my last response in regards to your previous response: “I’m American and I know it (The Declaration of Independence) well, most of the founding fathers are as Jason said, Agnostic, Deist, and Atheist.”

There were 56 men who signed the Declaration between August 2, 1776 and January 22, 1777, including two future presidents, three vice presidents, and ten members of the United States Congress.  George Washington, our first president, did not sign it, however, he did sign the Constitution.  Nonetheless, he was unanimously elected as our first President, the only president to have unanimous support.  He was decidedly a religious man, and those who knew him best confirmed he was Christian.  For information supporting this view, consider the following reference:  http://christiananswers.net/q-wall/wal-g011.html

For a broader examination of the religious background of many of the Founding Fathers, consider: http://www.amazon.com/American-Heritage-Series-David-Barton/dp/B001RJ78TE/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

In that examination, David Barton expounds on their faith, stating, “There are over 200 individuals who we call Founding Fathers.  Overwhelmingly they were Christian.  Probably 95% of that group were Christians… signors of the Constitution, signors of the Declaration, etc…  they were not only active in their own faith, they were active in helping spread that faith to others.  They saw the Bible as the basis of so many of their ideas, so many of those ideas were incorporated into their documents… that’s clear in their documents, it’s clear in the books that they use.”

‘When they met in Congress for the first time in September of 1774, they opened with prayer.  Not a routine prayer like we might have today, rather it was momentous as well as extended.  Not only did they pray, but the delegates studied four chapters of the Bible in Congress.  John Adams even wrote a letter to Abigail his wife telling her,

“I never saw a greater effect upon an audience.  It seemed as if heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on the morning… I must beg you to read that Psalm… [R]ead this letter and the 35th Pslam to [your friends].  Read it to your father.”

Her father was the pastor of the local church.   The prayer was supposedly so powerful, “Even the Quakers shed tears.”  –Silas Deane

In Washington’s famous farewell address of 1996, he declared, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

Those who formed the first bible society in America, The American Bible Society, were all founding fathers.  Elias Boudinot, first president of the society was also president of Continental Congress from 1782 – 1783.  He singed the final peace treaty with Great Britain to end the revolution and helped frame the Bill of Rights.  He published the book: “The Age of Revelation: Or the Age of Reason Shewn to Be an Age of Infidelity.”

I’m glad I bought this card deck while visiting D.C. with a friend in 2013.

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone celebrated President’s Day by reading about one of our great Presidents, breaking out a deck of these cards and playing away …even if only solitaire!

God bless you my dear readers and friends, God bless America!

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