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Lazy language has become one of the “acceptable sins” in the Church. Christian people can be heard using the B-word, the S-word, and the A-word, along with a host of other crudities.

 

Years ago, men, especially around women, would attempt to mask such behavior with silly statements like, “Pardon my French.” I don’t hear that much anymore. Actually, it’s been years since I’ve heard anyone anywhere apologize for his or her language.

 

But I’ve heard Christians using what we used to call “bad language” on the golf course and at fancy dinners, from the podium no less. I’ve heard it on campus and in restaurants and coffee cafes. I’ve heard it in professional settings.

 

This is not a "go-to-heaven" issue. I'm not making that case. It is, though, a "testimony" issue and, I suggest, a "professional" one as well.

 

People say "You are what you eat," but the Scripture says "What goes into a man's mouth does not make him unclean, but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him unclean" (Matthew 15:11).

 

So why are we, Christians, using more bad words? Frankly I don't know, other than it's what Francis A. Schaeffer said years ago: "Christians catch their values like they catch measles." In other words, we just absorb cultural values and actions by osmosis right out of the air and don't apply any spiritual discernment to what we're doing. So we sound like our culture and don't know it.

 

Using morally acceptable language is also a leadership issue. Leaders who spew aren't going to inspire people to sacrifice to reach the next level, I don't care who they are. Leaders with tainted vocabularies may gain fear, but they will not gain respect.

 

Maybe the words on my bad-word-list aren't the same as yours, but bad words are not a mystery. Like pornography, you may not always be able to define them, but you recognize them when you see or hear them.

 

Sanitizing or sanctifying our vocabulary is a good, positive, immediate-impact way to craft for ourselves a better image, reputation, and ultimately legacy.

 

Read more in my essay at "Pardon My French."

 

 

© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

T-shirts, like bumper stickers and license plates, have become individual Americans' shout-out billboards. We proclaim our politics and theology, root for the home team, and express undying affection for this, that, and the other.

When you travel, reading t-shirts is one way to keep the mind active and the travel-weariness at bay.

Here are a few I've seen recently:

“The Sarcasm Society, Like we need your support.”

“If blondes have more fun…do they know it?”

“Just hand over the chocolate and no one will get hurt.”

Chicago: “Don’t hassle me. I’m a local.”

Knoxville: “I ran out of sick days, so I called in dead.”

Paris: “Shouldn’t the Air and Space Museum be Empty?”

Minneapolis: “I Love Boobs.” – The "I" is a bowling pin and text on the back of the shirt provides details re "bowling for breast cancer." By the way, a woman was wearing this t-shirt...

And my all-time favorite that I saw in Phoenix years ago: “Yeah, but it’s a dry heat.” Picture shows a human skeleton lying up against a cactus.

Is this a great country or what?

 

© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2010

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.

American public schools continue to struggle with student dress codes: to have them or not to have them? To enforce them? How to enforce them? What should be allowed and what should be disallowed?

The problem is not so much modesty, lack of some perceived decorum, or distraction from the academic purposes of the school experience—though these concerns are real—as it is safety. “Hoodies” and cargo pants are being outlawed because they provide layers or pockets in which students can hide weapons or other contraband. In addition, schools are banning violent graphics and t-shirt messages, racist slogans, or other unnecessarily provocative material. Too tight, too loose, too many questionable insignias, too much skin, too much, too little, the beat goes on. But it’s a long way from the sixties and seventies. Of course, some of these actions prompted First Amendment challenges.

At Cornerstone University we discarded a lengthy, list-based dress code years ago. But we still want to influence students to select dress that represents them well as Christian people. So we developed a “Statement on Modesty,” which is available on the university website.

Basically, when it comes to dress we’ve told students they should apply two biblical principles: modesty and appropriateness. Our dress, regardless of our age or gender, should always be modest no matter in what culture we find ourselves. And our dress should be appropriate, which is to say it should fit the occasion or the event at which we are present.

I own a swimming suit that I believe is modest. I wear it on the beach, and I’ve worn it when I have been with student groups. I do not wear it to the local country club, fine restaurants, campus, or church on Sunday morning. The point is something can be modest but not appropriate. Both principles are important.

I’m not saying this university never experiences problems with student dress, nor am I saying that students never make poor choices or push the envelope. Sometimes we have problems because students make poor dress choices. But we’re here to help them learn and grow. We interact with them and talk about our principles, and most of them respond in due course.

This principled approach to student, or personnel, dress has spared the university a world of headaches. It is not specific, so at times it must be interpreted. But it’s rooted in our Christian worldview, and it makes sense to students. It gives them guidance for a lifetime, not just rules for the moment. These principles weather and survive changes in fads and fashions. Modesty and appropriateness principles may not speak directly to weapons and contraband hidden in clothing, but the Christian faith speaks to such matters in other ways.

Dress codes are problematic for administrators at any level and in any type of institution. I wish my colleagues well, and I’m thankful this university has found a very workable and effective way of addressing the issue.

 

© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.

As I write this blog I’m sitting in a Metro Detroit airport Northwest World Club lounge. Once again I’m reminded that cell phone technology has removed all semblance of privacy, quiet reflection, or personal space. Another traveler and I have been sitting in an alcove of the lounge, removed from the ever present CNN monitors and other noise-producers, reading our papers and working on our laptops. I’ve enjoyed my few moments of respite between planes, and he seems to have enjoyed his. Then a woman chose a chair near us. Not two minutes later she begins talking on her cell phone “at the top of her lungs,” as my Grandmother used to say, as if the other two of us do not exist.

I don’t mind the occasional interruption, nor do I think “my space” is inviolable in otherwise public areas. And I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon. But I’ve got to say that cell phone ethics simply don’t exist. People talk anywhere near anyone in anyway they please. The rest of us are supposed to think “It’s a free country,” shrug, and put up with it. By the way, moving to another location doesn’t help. All the other locations are already taken by terminal cell phone users.

Even if you could find a space where no cell phones are in use it will be dominated by ubiquitous monitors proclaiming “the news”—around the clock. You can’t even sleep in the airport between red-eye flights without the white noise of talking heads.

So, where does one go to read a book? Remember that? Reading. Where can you go to simply sit, drink your coffee, and think in a quiet public atmosphere?

I recommend cell phone-free zones, like public spaces now reserved for smokers. If you really need a smoke, you can generally find a place in bus terminals and airports where you can smoke behind walls in a space set aside for you. Why not establish libraries or reading rooms or simply “Quiet Areas” for those who want to unplug?

Northwest World Club tries—one alcove in the club is labeled “Quiet Zone” with a lined-out circled cell phone. But a television monitor still plays on the wall in the alcove and travelers still sit and talk loudly. Apparently “quiet” only refers to cell phones.

All this makes me appreciate country clubs where many of them have outlawed cell phone use in the dining areas and on the golf course. At least there’s one place one can still get away from cell phones. Maybe I’ll take my book and read on the second tee.

 

© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.

Bill Cosby has been pulling no punches about what he considers poor choices and lack of personal responsibility among low income Black individuals. As commentator Clarence Page says, Cosby’s choice of words is harsh (“We’ve got these knuckleheads walking around who don’t want to learn English…In neighborhoods that most of us grew up in, parenting is not going on…These people are fighting hard to be ignorant.”), he doesn’t have all the answers, and he doesn’t have all the facts. But Cosby is at least speaking up.

Cosby is right in at least one thing—destructive forces working against Black families and Black self-reliance are as much about each individual’s values and choices as they are about community opposition, politics, or racism. The same can be said for destructive forces among Whites, Asians, Hispanics, and any other hyphenated American.

The point is not to claim naively that racism doesn’t exist or to heap all the blame and burden upon the backs of the poor and disadvantaged. Clearly racism does exist, and clearly many individuals cannot make it on their own. They need help. There’s nothing wrong or inconsistent about exercising compassion even as one calls for more personal responsibility.

But the answer to turning around individuals and even entire communities is not found solely in government help programs, more money, or pointing fingers everywhere but at the individuals making the choices. People are born in to very bad situations. People are hurt by limited education, poverty, broken families, and a host of other social pathologies. All of these negative circumstances take a toll. But people are still responsible.

Black or White, Asian, Hispanic, or new immigrant—people are free agents. Their lives are determined by their values and the choices they make based upon those values. They can exercise their moral will, apply their talent, learn, work and contribute, and demonstrate basic values like honesty and reliability. Individuals who choose not to learn, who choose delinquency and crime, who choose sexual promiscuity, who choose anger and belligerence, who choose laziness, who choose amorality, always pay a price.

Cosby is right: Poor and disadvantaged Black Americans [and I would say any other racial or ethnic subgroup] need to work harder to construct their own future and hold themselves accountable to proven value choices. Clarence Page is correct: “Black America needs to look not for what’s right or what’s left but to what works in our drive to liberate those who have been left behind by the civil rights revolution.”

In other words, it’s not about race. It’s not about power, politics, or ideology. It’s about values. This is not a “conservative thing.” It’s a time-tested, religiously supported, common sense thing.

 

© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.

 

Three cheers for the New York Catholic high school principals who cancelled their proms on principle. Brother Kenneth M. Hoagland, principal of Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, cancelled his school’s prom because he was weary of the financial excess, ostentatiousness, and debauchery accompanying many senior proms. Nearby Chaminade High School soon followed suit.

Hoagland cited the “bacchanalian aspects” of school proms. In a letter to parents he said, “It is not primarily the sex/booze/drugs that surround this event, as problematic as they might be; it is rather the flaunting of affluence, assuming exaggerated expenses, a pursuit of vanity for vanity’s sake — in a word, financial decadence.”

Hoagland later accepted student a recommendation to substitute a modestly priced, dress code governed dinner cruise. In the end, there will be a celebration, but it will be more affordable and safer. The Rev. James Williams, president of Chaminade, said the revised celebration “is much more consistent with the values we adhere to.”

More high schools throughout the country should take a page from the courage these Catholic institutions have displayed. For too long, proms have been taken over by drunken driving and loss of virginity resulting more in a teenage nightmare than a senior class celebration. People know this, but they wink at it like it’s some kind of essential right of passage. Meanwhile, kids die on the highway or wake up with hangovers, embarrassment, pregnancy, or emotional baggage some carry for years thereafter.

Hopefully these high schools will start a corrective swing of the pendulum back toward common sense. Our teenagers will be the better for it.

 

© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.