Living Free in the Spirit of Christ

Free The Church

Social Graces

<img title=”Little Dorrit” src=”” alt=”Claire Foy as Amy Dorrit” width=”450″ height=”432″ />

Claire Foy as Amy Dorrit

Published on: Apr 30, 2009

<em>Masterpiece Theater</em> on PBS finished broadcasting their version of Charles Dicken’s serial novel, “<em>Little Dorrit</em>,” starring Claire Foy as Amy Dorrit.  My wife and I love these kinds of period pieces.   Her favorite being, “<em>Gone With the Wind</em>,” and the Jane Austin novels.

We purchased the BBC series of Jane Austin stories a while ago and watched all their renditions of the those novels, too.  The DVD set was on our entertainment center when some Christian friends of ours had come over for dinner.   Angie, the wife, saw the Jane Austin DVD and grabbed it covetously.  She adores these shows.

At breakfast with a friend of mine, John, I brought up the “<em>Little Dorrit</em>” series that had just finished.   He chimed in that his wife Heather and the his kids had watched the series, too.    It seems that many Christians are drawn to these Victorian period pieces.   While we were discussing this, we realized that these stories contain examples of courtesy and civility in societal behavior.   At least amongst the aristocrats.

As a nation we are hungry for simple social graces to be restored in our behavior towards one another.   These stories show a polite society where everyone is respectful of other people’s time, space and feelings.   That is not to say that these stories reflect the truth of those periods, but they are romantic memories of a lost set of manners.<!–more–>

Linda and I have season passes for the Scarborough Fair Renaissance Festival near where we live.  We have dressed up and gone each weekend to enjoy the illusion of a past era.   I think the draw that people have towards this time is in the same simpler and more courteous behavior one shows to another.  The romantic draw to knights in shining armor who were chivalrous towards the fair maidens in distress.  Not that this actually exists there, either.   On two occasions I have been pawed by women without permission.

What I mean is that on the first occasion I had my attention on a sword fight instructor when a woman behind me noticed that I had a turtle shell pouch hanging over my shoulder, to which she pulled on it to look at it.  I turned around and said, “Hey, that has my wallet in it.”  She excused herself, but I thought she had a lot of nerve just grabbing something attached to me.

On the second occasion I was standing at a shop watching my wife as she was browsing through the goods for sale.   A hand was put upon my shoulder from my backside as it began stroking my arm.  A somewhat drunk woman was pawing me, saying how gorgeous I was.  Being flattered aside, I was shocked at her impunity in touching me without my permission.

Social graces are lacking today as so many have been encouraged to believe they have the right to do what ever they want.

“<em>Little Dorrit</em>” and “<em>Gone with the Wind</em>” are both stories of a much stronger Christian era.  Both stories have Christ-like characters who demonstrate real goodness and kindness towards all those who are self centered.  Amy Dorrit herself is the Christ figure in the “<em>Little Dorrit</em>” story.

In “<em>Gone with the Wind</em>”, Melanie Hamilton who marries Scarlet O’ Hara’s secret love, Ashley Wilkes, is the Christ figure who puts up with the schemes and manipulations of Scarlet.

The appeal of these movies for me is the role model they provide.  The truth is that there has never been an era where everyone was polite and civil towards one another, although there may have been more in one era compared to another era.   But in all eras there have been godly people who are kind and Christ-like towards others.

Social graces refer to manners and consideration of others.  The key word in the expression is “grace”.   Good manners and civility is an expression of Christian grace towards others,  for we know that all of us are born sinners and are struggling in the same lost and fallen world.  So my encouragement to all who read this post is, “Let us be the Christ figures in our real lives towards all around us by responding with the same civil grace and manners.”

Comments to Original Post

Submitted on 05/04/2009

I love stories with Christ-like figures. They do abound in literature. I also agree with you about social graces. I work in an extremely stately atmosphere and you would not believe what goes on sometimes.

Alexander Douglas
Submitted on 05/04/2009

Well I grew up in a home of 4 rough and ready boys. We had little in social graces. Frankly, I am trying to exercise more of it in myself.

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