Uncommon Civility – fixed link

This is a book review because the only way I will stick to my plan to read the books I actually have in our home library is to have the accountability of giving a review when I’m finished whether you read it or not.  I like to think that you do 🙂

I just finished Uncommon Decency by Richard Mouw.  When I purchased this book, I assumed it was about how to control our status updates, tweets, hashtags, etc on social media.  But, it was so much deeper than that and much more broad in is application for everyday life. 

The book was first published in the 90’s – a lifetime ago way before the advent of social media.  It was recently revised and updated.  I can honestly say that after reading this book, every conversation or interaction with family or people (even the harried pharmacy tech at CVS) has been influenced by this book. 

As a society, we lost our civility a long time ago and social media has just accelerated it.  All you have to do is read an online news story, even from your local paper,  and scroll down to the comments to read all the uncivil, disrespectful comments (not to mention the using of “texting” language like “u r my fav” which drives me nuts) to see how far we’ve actually fallen.  Do people realize how stupid and vapid their arguments are when laced with insults, bad language and bad grammar?  You really can’t take these people seriously, even if they have a good point.  This goes for people on all sides of an issue.

Regrettably, I’ve noticed a lot of unproductive and even offensive posts, pictures, quotes from people claiming Christianity.  Evangelism is not banging someone over the head with a picture of an aborted baby.  Evangelism is not degrading someone else because of their personal religious belief because we know The Way.  I understand this is a balancing point, as does Mr. Mouw. You cannot compromise your convictions, but we can tone down our rhetoric. We can be civil. In fact, we are called to be civil.  We owe it to our Savior to be civil. He was. That doesn’t mean he didn’t get angry (overturning merchant tables in the temple ring any bells?) but it seems we use this example to justify ourselves into “righteously anger” about.  It just makes us look the fool and doesn’t win anyone for the Kingdom.

Mr. Mouw touches on so many issues that there is no way I can evaluate them all here.  I wanted to disagree with some of his points, I really did.  I’ve had my share of righteous indignation and I was raised in a very fundamentalist, legalistic church so I can easily head down the path of rudeness and incivility. 

I will turn to this little gem over and over.  It has earned a place on my bedside table to pick it up and read a chapter now and again to help me gain perspective and recenter my civility.

Here’s the link if you’d like to pick up a copy.  It’s an easy read and the chapters and short and though provoking:


My favorite quote came near the end and I will end my post with it

God uses crooked sticks to draw straight lines. – St. Ignatius

I’m ever so glad He does because I’m one crooked stick. 



Next Book:  The Great Gatsby…

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