The Art of Pettiness

A good friend recently gave me a stack of old Credenda/Agenda journals. This journal was published by Douglas Wilson and friends. They no longer publish the journal, but instead post articles on the web. The web version of Credenda can be found here. I encourage regular eating at their site. The food is good and the fellowship is usually cheerful.

Anyway, back to the print copies that currently sit in a magazine rack near the throne. The articles from the magazine are a delight. Numerous articles filled with practical advice on parenting, church, preaching, marriage and politics. They also featured movie and book reviews and works of fiction. Most of all the articles were often very funny, a mixture of satire and joy that is rarely seen in the Christian Church today.

One very funny article was by Doug Jones on The Art of Pettiness. It is a great blend of insight into what pettiness is and satire about why Christians are petty. I thought I would post some of his “insight.” The entire article is tongue in cheek. Jones talks as if he is teaching someone how to be petty. I thought I would just post one portion of it. He lists several things that must be avoided if one is to remain petty or live small as he calls it. Here is what he says:

1. Avoid Holidays: They can sometimes break through and remind people of what’s “really” important to the masses. It’s best to avoid them altogether; after all holidays are also quite wasteful and unnecessary. Especially Christmas.

2. Avoid Fiction: Trusts us on this one. Famous novelists often practice the technique of jumping from one character’s prespective to another, and this often feeds the illusion that others have important angles on the issues. Over time, it will weaken your commitment to the sanctity of your own perspective. Dangerous stuff.

3. Avoid Comedy: We’ve lost so many pettiness artists because of comedy. Wear the smile of laughter but don’t fall for its silliness. You don’t have time for comedy.

4. Avoid Children: You may need to reproduce, for some reason, but try to avoid unncessary contact with children. Everything they stand for works against the petty.

5. Avoid National Parks, Oceans, Cathedrals, etc.: These things were made by enemies of pettiness with the goal of undermining our whole vision. Don’t fall for them. They all obsess pathologically about “the big picture, the big picture,” over and over. They’re really quite selfish. They suck attention away from your perspective just to hog it to themselves.

6. Avoid Sex: Be sure to call it this; avoid it as much as possible, except when you can use it as a weapon. But too many times yikes–it just obliterates a good pattern of pettiness in a marriage and you have to start all over again.