I work as a church organist, and this is in fact an interesting perch from which to view the doings of modern man. I can tell stories that you wouldn’t believe. Some clergymen could tell you even better ones.
I have two jobs, and at one of them this morning, we had some guests present who are not normally with us. Evidently they don’t know how to behave at a religious service. They talked, and they talked, and they talked. They talked during the prelude, they talked during the opening hymn, they talked whenever they felt like it. I hope they didn’t mind our tendency to interrupt their conversation with readings, music, and other suchlike.
Some might be tempted to chalk this up to the decline of Christianity, but I think this issue goes beyond Church decorum. In fact, it seems to me that this behavior would have been offensive almost anywhere, except at sports events, which are arguably the real religion of modern man. It is bad enough when children talk out of turn and are not corrected, but when adults are doing it, one wants to despair.
The gauche behavior does not encapsulate this entire social disease, however. The second part of the problem is perhaps the worst, and that is the unwillingness or fear of others to correct those who are not living up to expectations. There were once men who did this. They were called fathers. Alas, manliness is no longer in vogue, and when some do try to correct others, even discreetly, they risk having the riot act read to them by some illiterate libertine. There is no longer any sense of shared values, and this amounts to rudeness being socially acceptable.
What will it take to fix this? It seems to me that, at the very least, and beyond the re-establishment of a basis for standards, it will require a certain amount of a “let them walk away” mentality. We are so stupidly worried these days about what everyone else thinks. I do not mean to condemn those who have lost their nerve; I too have lost mine in many situations when I should have stepped up and made certain situations right. This is only a natural human tendency, especially when our contemporary “devil words,” as Richard Weaver called them, include adjectives such as “antisocial,” where antisocial indicates a simple refusal to go along with the crowd.
Ultimately, however, putting the rude right will only be a band-aid. The bigger problem is making the impression that there are in fact times to be serious and times when we share in an activity larger than ourselves, and therefore we have not the right to do whatever we want. There is more to life than mindless chatter and entertaining ourselves to death, more to life than acquiring job skills and making good money. There is a time to speak and a time to be silent, a time to talk and a time to listen.
Now, where do we begin with a society that does not even believe in philosophical transcendentals?