Thursday, July 31, 2008

Miss Manners on Sharing Sustenance

This comes from the The Lambeth Witness, the daily newspaper of the inclusive church crowd at the decennial meeting of the worldwide Anglican Communion. I agree with Katie Sherrod that Miss Manners' column from Wednesday applies to the situation we find ourselves in, but also to all people of faith and goodwill when confronted with those who might be inclined to draw lines between those who are "in" and those who are "out."

Miss Manners’ unintentional analysis of the WCG proposal
by Katie Sherrod (Integrity USA)

The Windsor Continuation Group is floating a proposal whereby a Pastoral Forum would have the authority to impose a diminished status or “diluted representation” on a naughty province. The following column by etiquette columnist Miss Manners seemed an amazingly apt analysis of this proposal. “Party Hosts Who Pick Favorites” ran in the Wednesday, July 30, 2008 issue of the Washington Post.

Question: Dear Miss Manners - Unfortunately, I think I may have discovered a phenomenon that is even tackier than cash bars at wedding receptions. Apparently, some restaurants have begun offering a service called a "half-open bar" to customers who wish to hold private parties. This means that the hosts are allowed to select a set number of "VIP" guests, designated with visible wristbands, who are allowed unlimited free drinks. The rest of the guests must pay for their beverages. I'm not necessarily faulting the businesses that have made this service an option; they are hardly forcing anybody to participate. I am, however, trying hard to quash my uncharitable feelings about the hosts who would employ such a service. As for how this sort of thing reflects on the culture as a whole, I am completely at a loss for words. You, however, rarely are. Thoughts? Can civilization put the kibosh on this nonsense? Are we too far gone?

Answer: Although she is not quite ready to give up on civilization, Miss Manners admits that what has happened to hospitality is an evil portent. In secular society, as in many religions, the willingness to share sustenance freely, even if one has little, is a test. Those who turn others away are in trouble, even if the visitor does not turn out to be a deity in disguise. However, Miss Manners does admire the modern efficiency. What you bring to her attention is a method of insulting guests by making them pay to be entertained, while at the same time making it clear that the insult is personal rather than general.

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