Good ol’ Gossip

May 12, 2004 | 8 comments

We’ve already discussed good ol’ gossip’s tendency to keep up public standards (which warms my heart, to be sure, but apparently isn’t an argument to everyone’s taste). I’ve just discovered that gossip does some private good.

She-who-shall-be-nameless just suggested to me that we dress our daughter in a little graduation gown and I carry her with me throughout the commencement ceremonies. This is horribly kitschy, but I’m horribly sentimental, so I was inclined to assent.

Luckily gossip saved me. I sat through several BYU graduations and thus through a multitude of proud parent-graduates hauling their tikes through the graduation line. I didn’t take this latter sitting down, so to speak. I made a little biting comment each time, each time maybe a little snarkier and maybe a little funnier, and, well, I wasn’t very nice, OK? So I’ve put myself on record against that kind of kitsch and now I can’t ignore the kitschiness even though I want to. There’ll be no graduating daughter for me. My gossip has saved me from myself.

We have here a small example of a larger truth. Gossip doesn’t just warn off other people, it warns off the gossiper himself. What we won’t do solely for God we will sometimes do to avoid public embarrassment, and what we won’t do to avoid public embarassment we will sometimes do because we have in gossip so demolished other people’s self-deceptions that we find it difficult to decieve ourselves. God makes honey from carcasses, and gossip into a covenant with Him to do good.

The irony is that gossip will equally well serve as a self-committing pact with the Other Person; it depends if we’re gossiping against bad or not. The irony is that when I started thinking of gossip in the way I’ve described, as an agent in God’s efforts to commit us to good, I found myself in the presence of a high and holy feeling that if I’d had it at those BYU graduations would have made it impossible for me to criticize those students. The irony is that I really wish I could ignore the kitsch and take my daughter through the graduation line.


8 Responses to Good ol’ Gossip

  1. Nate Oman on May 12, 2004 at 11:32 am

    Adam: Just take your daughter through the graduation line. I carried my son through the graduation line at law school and got my diploma with one hand while I carried Jacob with the other. Of course, at HLS having children and going to law school is a bit scandalous and Jacob is an exceptionally cute little boy. It was fun.

  2. lyle on May 12, 2004 at 11:38 am

    Adam: At the BYU Law grad this year…about 5 folks did that. 2 of the 5 tikes were in graduation robes w/hats. it was cute. everyone liked it. of course…this is the opposite of HLS; so…

    you can always admit that you have changed, repented & now love kitsch and kute.

  3. Adam Greenwood on May 12, 2004 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks for the help, gentlemen. I’ve been trying to think of reasons why I should change my mind, and yours are good ones. I’m afraid that children are actually fairly common here at NDLS, but not as common as at BYU, so maybe that’ll work for me. If not, I can always fall back on Lyle’s embrace of Kute.

  4. Kristine on May 12, 2004 at 8:43 pm

    Adam, parenting is all about realizing how foolish it was to pass judgment on other parents’ actions before one had any children. At least it is for me. Fortunately, crow goes well with goldfish crackers :>)

  5. Adam Greenwood on May 13, 2004 at 8:17 am

    Would it be OK if parenting were also about learning not to pass judgment on others parents even after one has children? My judgment engine still had a full head of steam when our first was born and got through a lot of track.

  6. Kristine on May 13, 2004 at 8:30 am

    Adam, don’t worry–mine is still chugging along after three, though it has slowed significantly. Maybe *that’s* why there has been encouragement to have large families–I suspect I’d need at least 14 or 15 kids to become really appropriately charitable ; ) (Bach had 22, I think–that would probably do it for me!)

  7. Adam Greenwood on May 13, 2004 at 8:45 am

    In all seriousness, you might be right about the large number of children. It may also be that having lots of kids is necessary to let the parents learn to let their kids manage themselves while not feeling they are doing it for selfish reasons of not wanting to be bothered. I also suspect that large families are good for kids, who have to learn to pitch in more than they might otherwise.

  8. Tom on May 18, 2004 at 12:55 am


    I noticed that none of the women who had given birth during our law student days carried children–only the men (and not all of them). Don’t know what that means, but it must mean something.

    And, yes, I do think that being forced to switch to zone defense from a man-to-man is helpful for the kids. In my case, the most useful aspect is the dilution of my volcanic temper. A fifth of me is easier to take than half or (God forbid) full strength.


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