I must confess I do have some old-fashioned biases. I would be the first to admit I’m not up to date on the latest fad or trend.
I come from that era that believed the well-dressed man is one that doesn’t stand out from everybody else. I’ve tried to keep to that all these years. I certainly don’t want to stand out and have people recognize me or point their finger at me and whispered to each other.
For years, I’ve been very careful about that. Now, it seems that because I try to dress like a well-dressed man and not stand out I am in fact standing out. Nobody, except me and two other people, really care about being well-dressed.
This has never been an issue with me and it even now is not an issue. But reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the year before me, I have to take some calculations. According to my calculation, I no longer fit into that “well-dressed man” category, because the term “well-dressed man” does not mean what it used to mean.
I hate it when something outlasts its definition.
To be a well-dressed man today, according to the latest fads and trends I have noticed, I need to throw away my belt and let my trousers drop all the way down to my knees.
Let me go on record as saying, never in a million years will that happen.
Then there is the issue about a necktie. Am I the last person on planet earth wearing a necktie?
Very few people today know how to tie a necktie. Well, I do and I will until they put me in a casket and then I hope I’m still wearing a tie. So if you come to my funeral and look at me in the casket and I’m not wearing a tie, complain to someone for me.
The latest trends and fads have no interest to me whatsoever.
This came to my attention recently when I had to sign some legal papers for something to do with the church. I had to sign here, initial there, sign the next page, initial three pages and it went on and on until I ran out of ink.
I’m one of those old-fashioned guys that use a fountain pen and all that signing and initialing drained all of the ink out of my fountain pen. Before I finished, I was on the verge of carpal tunnel.
I sighed rather deeply, looked at the gentleman (I think he was a gentleman because he was dressed like a gentleman), and said kind of sarcastically, “Do you remember the old-fashioned handshake?”
He looked at me without smiling and then said, “Here are some more papers for you to sign.”
I thought I was signing my life away, but in reality, I was just signing my ink away.
I do remember when a handshake really meant something. Just about everything was sealed with a handshake and both parties were as good as their word. It would take a lot of undoing to undo that handshake. Now, you’re only as good as the word on a piece of paper over your signature. Then, some lawyer can finagle it around to mean something other than what you really meant it in the first place. So what's the purpose of all this?
I know you’re not supposed to say this, but I will, I sure long for the good old days when a handshake was all you needed. I get tired of the rigmarole passing as business these days. I get tired of paperwork that’s piled higher than the tallest tree in the forest.
Of course, if we go back to that handshake scenario, it will put many lawyers out of business. What would these people do for a living? I have some ideas, but I’m going to keep that to myself.
Trust has gone out of our culture today because everybody is only after what they can get for themselves and they don’t care how they get it.
A handshake met something in “the day.” In fact, I believe it was more binding than all of the paperwork and signed documents and legalese we have today. It’s hard to sue a handshake!
What I want to know is simply this. When we replaced the good old-fashioned handshake with all of this legalese stuff, are we better off? Have we simplified everything and covered all of the bases?
The answer is a loud no.
A man’s word used to be his bond and something he would never go back on.
The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I have lived on that marital philosophy all of our married life. I know in the marriage ceremony there is no “handshake.” But the philosophy of that handshake is right there. When I said “I do,” and she responded by another “I do,” we were shaking hands and saying to everybody around us but particularly to one another, “We do.”
I think James shook the right hand when he wrote, “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation” (James 5:12).
I’m all for getting back to the good old days when a handshake was all you needed.
Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores.