Pentecost 164

Pentecost 164
My Proverbs 14

The Proper Host

It was a well-preserved house of antiquity and the present residents were thrilled to be hosting a dinner party for their neighbors. Because they wanted their party to be a success, they consulted the etiquette books because, after all, what is the point of throwing a bad party?

According to etiquetteschoolar.com, the first rule for hosting a great dinner party is “to serve something you’ve served before”. The time to try a new recipe is the week before the party and not at the party. The website also recommends to “plan a well-balanced meal”. In other words, have something for everyone.

Diversity of the menu is something I personally applaud. As someone with severe food allergies that I never knew I had until I was an adult, I know the importance of listening to one’s body when it comes to eating. Obesity rates around the world are rising as are the illnesses accompanying being obese. First, let’s get clear that obesity is not a number on the scale. There are people who are over the recommended weight for their height. Those weights, by the way, are set up by insurance companies, based upon what they will charge you and the likelihood you will become ill or die. Actual facts indicate that a skinny, marathon runner can also die of a heart attack as well as an overweight couch potato. I am not advocating obesity; just acknowledging that appearance is not a good marker for good health. The moment your body tells you something, listen. Stop eating when your body tells you, not when your taste buds or eyes say stop. Live intelligently and give your party attendees the same chance!

The wise dinner party attendee knows that a general rule of thumb when using the place setting is to go from the outside in toward the plate as each new course is served. The wise host or hostess knows not to use every available utensil on a place setting. In other words, having five forks may make you feel important, it most likely will not be necessary. How one holds a fork will also be diverse since it is often a matter of where one grew up. The continental style of most European countries differs from that of most American households. Before you ask which is authentic or historically accurate, let me answer: neither! Interesting bit of culinary history – the fork was invented in China. Because children found it difficult, they invented an aid to help teach children how to use a fork. The aid proved successful and once mastered, helped children make the transition from eating with their hands to using a fork. Now if you are the parent of a toddler, you are probably wondering what this great invention is, right? Chopsticks. Yep, that lovely, challenging duet of two thin pieces of wood that few of us can use gracefully actually helped kids learn how to get food from their plate to their mouth!

While throwing a dinner party can seem daunting, there really are only four basic rules. Again quoting etiquettescholar.com, these are the four requirements of a successful dinner party: “A menu that is well planned; a table with ironed linen, polished silver, and sparkling glassware; well prepared food; a welcoming host.

Right about now you might be asking yourself how I went from calling out militants yesterday that bombed and killed innocent school children in Africa to discussing a dinner party. After all, while I posted recipes during Lent and Easter and will do so again during Advent, isn’t this a humanitarian blog? Why all the worry about the etiquette of being a proper host or hostess?

The fact is that we are all hosts and hostesses. We all live as hosts or hostesses of Creation. Regardless of how you think you were created, what you call the Great Spirit that created you, your life right now on this planet involved being a host or hostess. Don’t get so bogged down in what you call that Creation or the One who made it. After all, there are plenty of hosts walking around today with the given name of William who are called Will, Willie, Bill, Billy, Wilhelm, Wiley, Wylie, Liam, Guille, Gui or hostesses named for a male called Wilhelmina or Wilma. In fact, if your name is a derivative of the original Wilhelm or William, you could be called , according to Wikipedia: Wiriyamu (Shona), Whiriyamu (Karanga), Whiliyamu (Ndebele), Wilhelm (German, Polish, Swedish), Willem, Wilhelmus, Wim, Pim, Jelle (Dutch, Frisian, Low German), Wiremu (Maori), Willelm (Old English), Wullie, Wully, Weelum, Willum (Scots), Williama (Hawaiian), Wellëm (Luxembourgish), Walaam (Persian), Cuglierme (Neapolitan), Gilen, Guilen (Basque), Gulielmus, Vilhelmus (Latin), Guglielmo (Italian), Guillaume (French), Guildhelm (Old Dutch), Guilhem (Occitan), Guillem, Guim (Catalan), Guillén (Aragonese), Guillermo (Spanish), Guilherme (Portuguese), Guillerme , Galician), Gwilym (Welsh), Gwilherm (Breton), Gugghiermu (Sicilian), Gllâome (Modern Norman), Uilliam (Irish), Liam (Irish), Illiam (Manx Gaelic), Uilleam (Scottish Gaelic), Melhem (Arabic), Gulielm (Albanian), Уилиам – Uiliam (Bulgarian), װֶעלװֶעל – /ˈvelvel/ (Yiddish), Villem, Villu (Estonian), Уильям – William, Вильям – William, Вильгельм – Vil’gel’m (Russian), Вільгельм – Vil’hel’m (Ukrainian), Vilhelm (Danish, Norwegian, Romanian, Swedish), Vilhelmo (Esperanto), Viliam (Slovak), Viljem (Slovene), ויליאם – /ˈviljam/ (older propronunciation), /ˈwiljam/ (contemporary) (Hebrew), Vilim (Croatian), Vilém (Czech), Vilmos (Hungarian), Viljams, Vilhelms, Vilis (Latvian), Vilius, Viliumas, Vilhelmas (Lithuanian), Viljami, Ville, Vilho, Viljo (Finnish), Vilhjálmur (Icelandic), Vilhjálmur, Viljam (Faroese), Vilhjálmr (Old Norse), Vilko (Croatian), Vilyam, Vilyım (Turkish), Vėljams (Samogitian), Γουλιέλμος (Gouliélmos) (Greek), Γουλιελμάκης (Goulielmakis) (Greek), Γιλιαμ (Greek), Գուլիելմոս (Goulielmós) (Armenian), ウィリアム (Wiriamu) (Japanese), 윌리엄 (William) (Korean), 威廉 (Wēilían) (Chinese).

As a hostess named Elizabeth you could be Eliza, the Thai Lisābeṭh, Hungarian Erzsi, Scottish Iseabail…well, you get the idea. Often what we are called is not always our given name. I write this blog using a pseudonym. I am not ashamed of what I write nor am I hateful of the name my parents gave me. My favorite authors growing up used pseudonyms and I decided at a young age to follow their examples. It does not change who I am, though, and that is my point. As the host or hostess of my life, what matters is that I am true to who I am, true to being a good host or hostess of my life, my world, and my actions in both.

This past Monday’s edition of “the Washington Post” featured an article written by Michelle Boorstein. It was a notice of an upcoming dinner party. “Washington National Cathedral, known for presidential funerals and other major spiritual services, will host a Muslim prayer service for the first time Friday. The cathedral, part of the Episcopal Church, has long held high-profile interfaith events, and some mosques hold services in synagogues or churches if they need overflow space. But organizers said Monday that they are seeking to make a statement by having Muslim leaders come and hold their midday service in such a visible Christian house of worship. “We want the world to see the Christian community is partnering with us and is supporting our religious freedom in the same way we are calling for religious freedom for all minorities in Muslim countries,” said Rizwan Jaka, a spokesman with the prominent ADAMS mosque in Sterling, Va., one of the co-sponsors of Friday’s service. “Let this be a lesson to the world.”

If I host a dinner party and offer, fish, vegetarian dishes, and steak, I would most likely be considered a good host. However, today’s event has been disclaimed by conservative Christians and Muslims alike. While I applaud the Episcopal Church for getting the two groups to come to a concensus on something, I do question both groups interpretation of their books of teachings for living a holy life. Both advocate peace and community, respect of another. Whether one calls that Great Spirit, Allah or God does not diminish the Spirit. Much like William can be Uiliam, VIllis, or Billy and Elizabeth can be Betsy, Betty, Zabette, Ellie, or Elsa, the Creator can also go by many names.

Today’s event is a neighborhood dinner party. The National Cathedral is playing host to its neighbors. Their neighbors are being gracious in accepting the invitation. Anyone disdainful of this is not only poorly versed in the etiquette of living, they make their faith a mockery. “C’mon people: smile on your brother! Everybody get together, try and love one another right now.” It really is a matter of life and death….for the world.

My Proverb 14

Love, honor, respect – The trinity of life that should be applied to every living thing.

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