If you’ve been around me much you may know of my affection for the Book of Sirach, sometimes called Ecclesiasticus, an apocryphal book not always included in English translations of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. It’s a very practical book of wisdom, one ancient mind’s interpretation of Hebrew Law and faith for those outside of Israel or those within who wish to study deeper into God’s instruction.
As an ancient book and being set entirely in an ancient worldview and mindset, there are many things which do not immediately resonate with us. But even across the thousands of years, there is so much to learn from these words. In the passage we’re reading today the writer of Sirach prepares us to gossip less, be more forgiving and less judgmental, and to seek truth in our relationships, to give the benefit of the doubt and to extend grace to others. Check it out…
4 One who trusts others too quickly has a shallow mind,
and one who sins does wrong to himself.
5 One who rejoices in wickedness will be condemned,
6 but one who hates gossip has less evil.
7 Never repeat a conversation,
and you will lose nothing at all.
8 With friend or foe do not report it,
and unless it would be a sin for you, do not reveal it;
9 for someone may have heard you and watched you,
and in time will hate you.
10 Have you heard something? Let it die with you.
Be brave, it will not make you burst!
11 Having heard something, the fool suffers birth pangs
like a woman in labor with a child.
12 Like an arrow stuck in a person’s thigh,
so is gossip inside a fool.
13 Question a friend; perhaps he did not do it;
or if he did, so that he may not do it again.
14 Question a neighbor; perhaps he did not say it;
or if he said it, so that he may not repeat it.
15 Question a friend, for often it is slander;
so do not believe everything you hear.
16 A person may make a slip without intending it.
Who has not sinned with his tongue?
17 Question your neighbor before you threaten him;
and let the law of the Most High take its course.
As we move into 2017 this can become a worthy intention for us all, especially in this day of social media and internet driven false-news. When inflammatory things are said of anyone, give the benefit of the doubt. This is a faithful and graceful practice for our immediate neighbors as well as those in public office and service. Can you relate to the metaphor of a fool hearing some juicy gossip and suffering birth pangs until it’s repeated? I can.
I believe 2017 needs just a bit more chilling out and listening and a lot less freaking out and screaming from me and from you, from all of us. Because, as this ancient writer reminds us, we can all make mistakes, often without even realizing it.
*I almost skipped this entry from four years ago. I do still believe that civility allows for some good natured humor, but there’s not much funny today when we hear Donald Trump’s careless rhetoric and words, either about rigged elections or women. Maybe this is a needed reminder of how these elections and candidacies should be going. Who would have thought that four years ago would seem so tame and be remembered so fondly. Weird, huh?
Oct. 18 ~ Civility does allow for humor, just be wise & fair, and use some whimsy! #civility
Of course civility allows for some humor, just keep it fair and whimsical, and be wise. The most current, gut-busting example is the MEME activity with Governor Romney’s statement about having “binders full of women.”
And the funniest of the MEME’s to me don’t even have his picture in them, but instead have President Clinton making some funny face or even Boromir. I’m cracking up over these things! Here are my three favorites, none of which show Governor Romney…
…and my all time fav below…
Do some of the MEME’s out there cross the line of civility? Yes indeed. Some are mean spirited ones and some are simply misrepresenting the comment. Was it a poor choice of words? Sure thing. Was it funny? Heck yeah!
I don’t believe that it’s fair or correct to judge Governor Romney’s views on women by that statement, which was obviously not well thought out. We just need to be able to laugh sometimes and let things be humorous. Just stick with the whimsy and leave the meanness out!