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Sometimes I really think we need Miss Manners to come along and teach us some of the basic rules of common decency that at least serve to grease the skids of our civilization.

In case no one has noticed our civilization is currently on the skids and rapidly sliding down the hill. I’m not quite sure what we are lubricating it with, but it sure ain’t common sense.

I’d take on the job on Miss Manners myself but I’ve made a promise never to police anyone over, oh about 30 or so. Seriously, I ain’t the donkey whisperer. Also, I resigned years ago from trying to save the world. If the world actually wanted to be saved, it would be.

However, there are numerous little sayings from the days of old, some of them actual Bible verses and some of them just assorted bits of wisdom. This too shall pass. All’s well that ends well. Never trouble trouble, till trouble troubles you. The Lord will provide. Don’t speak ill of the dead.

One reason why we don’t speak ill of the dead is because it is bad form. It is crass, vulgar, like carrying food all over on the front of your shirt. There are no good intentions there at all, it is not as if you are “just speaking the truth in love” to the dead. They aren’t going to hear your dark opinion of them, repent, and promptly mend their ways.

Which brings me to another bit of wisdom, “If you haven’t got anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.”

So the only reason why we speak ill of the dead is to virtue signal our own selves, (thank goodness I am not like that tax collector over there) or to dogwhistle to our tribe and show them how cool we are, or perhaps to help ourselves feel morally superior and stave of the reality of death. The thinking seems to go, “that guy was a bad guy which is why he died.”

The problem with that mindset is that often the “bad guys” just die at 104, very wealthy and successful. It’s maddening, but it is what it is.

Which brings me to another saying, “there is a special God for children and drunks.” We say that because we know the really rotten people are going to be darn near immortal, whereas the ignorant, incompetent, and inebriated seem to need a legion of angels working 24/7 just to keep them in this world.

I jest a bit, but I just want to proclaim that dancing on someone’s grave is not a good look. It is not “Christian.” Christian used to be a word that meant, kind and having good manners. I kid you not, people would say things like, “I just wanted to punch him in the head, but I am a Christian.” Being a Christian was once about exercising a tiny bit of self control over ourselves, especially our mouths. Or in the case of social media, self control over our fingertips.

Just because you can say it, doesn’t mean you should.

Tim Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, passed away this week. He had a powerful impact on many people, wrote a lot of books, and stirred up controversy on occasion. I also cannot recall even so much as the scent of scandal when it came to his life. Unfortunately that’s kind of unusual in these days of evangelism as political power and profit, book deals and celebrity.

Life is not black and white. People don’t fit in our tidy little boxes. You can’t simply divide people into “woke” and “not woke,” as if it were some kind of litmus test. The fact that many people, allegedly Christian people, on social media chose to honor his death by posting their negative opinions of him and assorted proclamations about how he did Christianity all wrong, is evidence that our work here is not finished. Good manners really matter. Common decency matters. Having integrity matters. Often those who need the most work are His self appointed ambassadors who have not yet learned the finer points of basic good manners. Grace is very reflective, if you ain’t got it to extend to others, then you simply haven’t received it yourself.

By the way, I know some actual boorish people who really do have food stuck all over the front of their shirt and yet when someone dies, even they know to take their hat off and offer up a moment of silence. In fact, sometimes I often prefer the company of those who no longer have any reason to try to posture in this world. I’ve actually learned a lot about human decency from them.