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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Part VII: George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior

At the age sixteen, George Washington wrote out by hand, 110 Rules of Civility. These are based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595. The rules have one major interest in common; a focus on other people rather than on our own self-interests which is so prevalent today. Some of his ideas may seem quaint to our modern minds but they are an excellent reminder of the importance of being a gentleman!

71 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.

72 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-

73 Think before you speak; pronounce not imperfectly, nor bring out your words too hastily, but orderly and distinctly.

74 When another speaks, be attentive yourself; 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 has ended.

75 In the midst of discourse [damaged manuscript] but if you perceive any stop because of [damaged manuscript]; to proceed: If a person of quality comes in while you’re conversing, it’s handsome to repeat what was said before.

76 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.

77 Treat with men at fit times about business and whisper not in the company of others.

78 Make no comparisons and if any of the company be commended for any brave act of virtue, commend not another for the same.

79 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.

80 Be not tedious in discourse or in reading unless you find the company pleased therewith.

Part III: George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior

George Washington

21 Reproach none for the infirmities of nature, nor delight to put them that have in mind of thereof.

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

23 When you see a crime punished, you may be inwardly pleased; but [damaged manuscript] show pity to the suffering offender.

24 [damaged manuscript]

25 Superfluous compliments and all affectation of ceremonies are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be neglected.

26 In putting off your hat to persons of distinction, as noblemen, justices, churchmen, etc., make a reverence, bowing more or less according to the custom of the better bred, and quality of the persons; among 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 word keep to the most usual custom.

27 ‘Tis ill manners to be one more eminent than yourself be covered, as well as not to do it to whom it is 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 or saluting ought to be taking place and sitting down for ceremonies without bounds are troublesome.

28 If any one come to speak to you while you are [are] sitting, stand up, though he be your inferior, and when you present seats, let it be to everyone according to his degree.

29 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.

30 In walking the highest place in most countries hand; therefore place yourself on the left of him whom you desire to honor: but if three walk together the middle place is the most honorable; the wall is usually given to the most worthy if two walk together. (“The Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation”)

The American Culture Of Narcissism

Dr. Ross Porter, licensed Clinical Psychologist, is the founder and Executive Director of Stillpoint Family Resources. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his Ph.D. (Clinical Psychology) and M.Div. (Master of Divinity) degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary, where he first became interested in the integration of psychology and spirituality. Dr. Porter writes and presents workshops and seminars on issues dealing with psychology and spirituality. He has created the The Virtue Project, a unique and practical vision of healing and hope that integrates psychological truth with theological and philosophical wisdom. The following excerpt is from Dr. Porter’s article on “Reclaiming Virtue and Wisdom”:

There was a time when reality-testing was a hallmark of good mental health. The presumption was that a psychologically well person could distinguish between what was objectively good behavior and what was inappropriate; what was natural and what was unnatural; what was creative and what was destructive. Psychologically unhealthy people, in contrast, struggled consistently with making these same kinds of fundamental discernments. Responsibilities, both to self and others, were understood and taken seriously. Duty was not a four-letter word, and giving back was not the punch line of a joke.

We need no Gallup poll to confirm current American culture is not our grandparent’s generation. The increasingly self-indulgent, secularized, nihilistic America that followed The Great Depression and World War II has left our culture both psychologically immature and morally confused about meaning and purpose. Like never before in America, subjectivity is becoming the sole source of both reality and truth. And there’s the problem, pure subjectivity does not provide a shared standard for judging reality or truth.

How does this exhibit in our culture? Americans increasingly fall prey to a phenomenon known as the “self-serving bias”, exhibiting a reliable tendency to interpret events in ways that are favorable to them, or show them in the best possible light; even when objective facts don’t justify these judgments. So all successes are attributed to me, but all failures are blamed on others. If I get the job it’s because I’m wonderful, but if I don’t it’s because I was discriminated against. If I stay with my wife it’s because I’m wonderful, but if I leave it’s because she wasn’t meeting my needs. If my son excels in school it’s because he’s my son and I’m wonderful, but if he rebels it’s because of the school. This is consistent with what Paul Vitz has called “selfism”, and what Christopher Lasch has called “the culture of narcissism.”

Read “Reclaiming Virtue and Wisdom” here. . . .

Too Much Introspection?

Andrée Seu writes this article which appears in World today. The title is “His Word Over Mine”. She expresses the problem that so many of us have in this self-absorbed culture. This is right on target! I hope you will read the entire article:

Personality is a funny thing. By the time you are middle aged, you cannot tell how much is nature, nurture, or the fruit of bad choices.

Doesn’t matter. I have spent too much time trying to understand why I am the way I am, and not nearly enough time thinking about who God says I am. He tells me that all the old is passed away, and behold, the new is come. That’s His Word. Am I going to put my word above His, or am I going to side with God against my own self-evaluation?

Continue reading here. . . .

Rules For Achieving The American Dream

From the desk of columnist Cal Thomas:

“Anyone who thinks dysfunctional government is going to help achieve their dreams is putting their faith in the wrong place. People who believe a politician of whatever party or persuasion can make their life better than individual initiative are doing more than dreaming; such persons are displaying cult-like faith, which can never be fulfilled. The rules for achieving the American dream may no longer be taught in and supported by culture, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work. The rules are known to previous generations: studying and staying in school; achieving at least an undergraduate degree; avoiding drugs that harm your mind and body; getting married before you have children and working hard to stay married as an example to those children and to benefit society; saving and investing for retirement so as not to burden taxpayers and relatives; living within one’s means; demonstrating personal honesty and professional integrity, which comes from character developed in one’s youth, usually with a sense of right and wrong once imposed by parents and affirmed by culture.”

Ancient Intelligence

Evolutionists often advocate the belief that ancient man was intellectually inferior to modern-man. The theory, however, does not fit the facts. While there are numerous theories on how megalithic structures like the pyramids were built, there continue to be arguments over the technology used to construct them. In addition to this, ancient pyramids have been found in various places around the world. Then there are the 2,000 year old batteries known as the Baghdad Batteries, which date back to between 248 B.C. and 226 A.D. It is believed that this ancient battery might have been used for electroplating objects with gold.

An interesting artifact was recovered by sponge-divers from a shipwreck in 1900 off the coast of Antikythera, a small island that lies northwest of Crete. The divers brought up a hunk of corroded bronze that contained some kind of mechanism composed of many gears and wheels. Writing on the case indicated that it was made in 80 B.C. An x-ray of the mechanism revealed it to be very complex, containing a sophisticated system of differential gears. Gearing of this complexity was not known to have existed until 1575!

There is ample evidence of brain surgery, dating back to the Neolithic (late Stone Age) period. The unearthed remains of successful brain operations, as well as surgical implements, have been found in France. Pre-Incan civilization used brain surgery as an extensive practice as early as 2,000 B.C. In Paracas, Peru, archeological evidence indicates that brain surgery was used extensively. Here, too, an inordinate success rate was noted as patients were restored to health.

Consider the work of Heron (or Hero) of Alexandria who lived in the first-century A.D., probably from A.D. 10 to 75. He was a mathematician and practical inventor. He invented a sacrificial vessel where water flows only when money is dropped in a slot. Heron also constructed a small temple so that when a fire was lit, the doors opened spontaneously and shut again when the fire was extinguished. These devices were designed, most probably at the behest of the king, to make people believe that the gods were real and near. Heron also developed elaborate entertainment devices that set wooden actors and props in motion without any of the pulleys and weights visible to the audience. He is most famous for inventing the aeolipile, the precursor to the steam engine.

Free To Choose

John Stossel

Quoting columnist John Stossel:

“America’s current struggles notwithstanding, life here is pretty good. We have a standard of living that’s the envy of most of the world. Why did that happen? Prosperity isn’t the norm. Throughout history and throughout the world, poverty has been the norm. Most of the world still lives in dire poverty. Of the 6 billion people on earth, perhaps 1 billion have something close to our standard of living. Why did America prosper when most of the people of the world are still poor? Milton Friedman taught me the answer. More than any other American, Friedman, who won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1976, clearly warned the world about the unintended consequences of big government. ‘We’ve become increasingly dependent on government,’ said Friedman. ‘We’ve surrendered power to government; nobody has taken it from us. It’s our doing. The results — monumental government spending, much of it wasted, little of it going to the people whom we would like to see helped.’ That’s from Friedman’s PBS TV series ‘Free to Choose,’ which aired 30 years ago and became the basis of his No. 1 bestseller by the same name. The title says a lot. If we are free to make our own choices, we prosper.”

Read more here. . . .

Lifting The Burden Of The Less Intelligent

What do you think would be the result of gathering together America’s best and brightest intellectual elite to manage the nation’s economy and social engineering policies for the future? Advocates of central planning have a long record of supporting the idea that the intellectual few need the power to manage the lives of the common people who are less wise in making important decisions. The disastrous results of such policies – when enforced – are well documented in the history of the 20th century. Nevertheless, the supporters of central planning have not been deterred by the facts. Thomas Sowell, who is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust writes an excellent article concerning this phenomenon:

Many of the wonderful-sounding ideas that have been tried as government policies have failed disastrously. Because so few people bother to study history, often the same ideas and policies have been tried again, either in another country or in the same country at a later time– and with the same disastrous results.

One of the ideas that has proved to be almost impervious to evidence is the idea that wise and far-sighted people need to take control and plan economic and social policies so that there will be a rational and just order, rather than chaos resulting from things being allowed to take their own course. It sounds so logical and plausible that demanding hard evidence would seem almost like nit-picking.

In one form or another, this idea goes back at least as far as the French Revolution in the 18th century. As J.A. Schumpeter later wrote of that era, “general well-being ought to have been the consequence,” but “instead we find misery, shame and, at the end of it all, a stream of blood.”

Continue reading. . .

Intellectual Dishonesty In Our Universities

What has happened to open and honest academic debate? University professors now defend their secular progressive ideas by attacking the intelligence of their opponents. Yet, they wish to shield themselves from any criticism whatsoever. The dishonest professor of higher education rushes to advance ideas that fit his own biased worldview even when there is no evidence of objective support. They are even guilty of continuing to advance ideas which have been fully refuted by evidence. According to columnist Mike Adams:

Today, feminist professors continue to advance the idea that there are no innate differences between men and women despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. They continue to advance the idea of widespread gender discrimination in pay despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Liberal Arts professors continue to promote the idea that there is widespread racism in the loan application process despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. . . .

Sadly, this trend is not limited to the social sciences and humanities. It has infected the hard sciences as well. Intellectuals continue to promote the idea of global warming despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. Even those caught in the act of fudging data are unwilling to relinquish their cause.

Apparently, no wealth of evidence is so great that “intellectuals” cannot suppress it in order to preserve their role in finding a “solution” to our collective “problems.” Yet their prideful lies are all uttered under the guise of serving the best interests of society. . . .

Psalm 14:1 says that “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good.” These seem like harsh words but many have observed that the flood of strange and foolish ideas flowing from the ivory tower has followed closely on the heels of the efforts of intellectuals to expel God from the academy. . . .

I take recent academic proclamations of moral relativism as an invitation to critique the academy. And I advise students who hear a professor proclaim that all ideas are equal to drop his class immediately. If he believes such a thing his ideas are no better than that of a student. He is therefore intellectually unfit to be a professor.

Of course, the professor who insincerely proclaims that all ideas are equal is unqualified for a different reason. He is a liar and, therefore, morally unfit to be a professor. . . .

Continue reading this article here. . . .

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