Monday, November 26, 2012

Pastorgraphs: “Chivalry Now”

E-Vangel Newsletter
November 26, 2012

Pastorgraphs: “Chivalry Now”

[Greetings from Yazoo City, Mississippi. I’m winding up a wonderful extended Thanksgiving stay in my childhood hometown with my mother, sisters, brother, relatives and friends. I plan to be back in San Diego tomorrow. If you didn’t see it on Facebook, here is a photo my nephew Doug took of our immediate family. Mother is seated in the center of the front row. She turns 91 in two weeks. This is what Thanksgiving is all about - FAMILY!]

While preparing the character section in my integrity book, I was fortunate to stumble upon the writings of D. Joseph Jacques. I have been unable to learn much about him personally, but really like what he has to say. Jacques is a student of medieval chivalry and wrote principles establishing a modern Code of Chivalry appropriate for our times in his book, Chivalry-Now: The Code of Male Ethics. [Disclaimer: Before you react to his emphasis upon “male ethics”, please hear him out. He is far from sexist.] Most of what he has to say to men applies to women as well.

Jacques calls his modern Code of Chivalry “The Twelve Trusts”.

“Upon my honor…
1. I will develop my life for the greater good.
2. I will place character above riches and concern for others above personal wealth.
3. I will never boast but cherish humility instead.
4. I will speak the truth at all times and forever keep my word.
5. I will defend those who cannot defend themselves.
6. I will honor and respect women and refute sexism in all its guises.
7. I will uphold justice by being fair to all.
8. I will be faithful in love and loyal in friendship.
9. I will abhor scandal and gossip - neither partake nor delight in them.
10. I will be generous to the poor and to those who need help.
11. I will forgive when asked that my own mistakes will be forgiven.
12. I will live my life of courtesy and honor from this day forward.”

Jacques continued and listed some examples of what honor is not:

• There is no honor in boasting and belittling other people.
• There is no honor in dulling one’s mind and judgment with alcohol or drugs. Doing so detracts from completeness and clarity of mind.
• There is no honor in harming innocent people, in victimizing or controlling women, or placing profit ahead of compassion.
• There is no honor in telling people lies or delighting in gossip or slander.
• There is no honor in smearing an opponent, political or otherwise, with false allegations.
• There is no honor in cheating or breaking promises.
• There is no honor in complacency in the face of injustice, especially when opportunity calls for bold action.

May I get an “AMEN!”?

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines chivalry as: “gallant or distinguished gentlemen”. I see a recurring theme of chivalry, good versus evil, in much of literature, including Star Wars. Wouldn’t it be a better world if all people, especially men, behaved with a sense of honor, duty and courtesy like the Knights of the Round Table?

My parents raised me in the Southern traditions of hospitality and gentility: to open the door for women, to be kind, fair and just, to be polite, to respect my elders, and so on. Those character traits are another form of chivalry that sadly seems to have passed away. It died because we quit expecting that behavior as common etiquette. 

I still remember how foolish I felt when I held a door open for a fellow female seminarian in Louisville in 1971. While waiting for her to walk through the door, she lambasted me. “What, don’t you think I can open the door for myself? You male chauvinist pig!” I am sure she was a fully liberated woman, and I respected her right to offer an opinion on my old fashioned decorum. There have been few times more embarrassing in my life. That was my first lesson on the difference between chivalry and chauvinism. Like many men who learned that women no longer expected such courtesies, I just quit doing what I had been accustomed to do. I believe both men and women lose something important when chivalry and politeness die.

Women are perfectly capable of opening doors for themselves. But I believe women respect a man with a sense of chivalry (another term for character), if she is able to find one. And I believe that men and women can be chivalrous as Jacques outlined in his Twelve Trusts.

May God bless us, one and all, Brother Bill

From the Quote Garden:
“The motto of chivalry is also the motto of wisdom; to serve all, but love only one.”
~ Honore de Balzac (Brainyquote.com)
Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205

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