Monday, May 29, 2006

Renter's floors

I am a renter. I do not own my living quarters, so I do not own the floors. There is a temptation with non-ownership to not take care of the floor as we might with floors we own. Not long after I moved in to my apartment my landlord came by and did not want to walk through my apartment because his shoes were dirty. Being found then still in my BSO* days, I showed no objection to the dirty shoes on the floor, because the floors belong to him, not to me. Since then he has felt free to walk across the floors with his shoes on at pretty much any time. I gave him license, so why not? It has since started to bother me, but I am moving next week and now is not the time to make an issue of it.

How does a renter handle the situation of the landlord walking through the apartment or house with their shoes on? This is a question that I would like to pose for the readers here.

There is another problem with the above situation, however. I was far too ready to disregard what happened to the floor because ultimately it wasn't mine. I was not being a good steward of the things entrusted to me in that situation. We really do not ever own any material possession. The earth is the Lord's and all it contains. It all belongs to God and He grants us stewardship of property regardless of whose name is on the deed. I think that taking care of what we own is a good way to show appreciation for the things God has given to us. I do not do a good job in this area, but I will start by trying to take care of my floors. Help me be a good steward and take your shoes off at my door. I would appreciate it.

*Before Shoes Off

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Hayfever season is going to be here soon.

If you or others in your family suffer from Hayfever, one of the things you can do to reduce the suffering is to remove your shoes at the door and ask family and friends to remove their shoes.

If you keep your shoes on, you are going to bring pollen into the house and eithre rub it into the carpet, or if you do not have a carpet, allow it to collect in corners of your house.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Yahoo Answers: Party and shoes. How do I tell people I don't want them walking on my carpet?

Yahoo Answers: Party and shoes. How do I tell people I don't want them walking on my carpet?

This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to... Armenia!

Armenian Page in Wikipedia

World Factbook: Armenia

Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

I hereby grant the National Etiquette Award to Armenia, as it is the norm in that country to remove shoes in homes.

Hitler once sneered, 'Who remembers the Armenians?' Indeed, most people in the west know little of Armenia. What is most known about Armenia is the applling genocide that was carried out by the Turks against the Armenians between 1915 and 1918. Over a million Armeninas are thought to have died according to some. The Turkish government officially denies this was genocide, maintianing that it was the inevitable consequence of civil war. Armenians have been campaigning for 30 years to secure recognition of the genocide. The majority of historians maintain that documentary evidence supports the Armenian claim.

Armenian was the first officially Christian country. The Armenian Apostolic Church is distinct from the Orthodox Chruches of Greece and Russia, being part of the Oriental Orthodox tradition. This goes back to the Monophysite controversy in the early centuries of church history. Armenia gave America one of the more controversial Reformed theologians of our time in the form of Rousas Rushdoony, the great advocate of Theonomic Reconstruction.

Armenia has an ancient tradtion of wine-making and other alcoholic beverages are very popular in Armenia.

The Armenian disapora is very large; there are Armenians living all over the world, including the USA.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Public Toilets

I do not know about ladies' public toilets, but the floors in mens' public toilets are always disgusting. They smell, they are wet, there is likely to be all manner of dirt on them. Not just the obvious, but cleaning chemicals and mud. You definitely would not want to touch the floor of a public toilet with your hand.

Now imagine somebody goes to a public toilet. He then visits your house or apartment and comes in with his shoes on, walking on the same floor on which your children play. See what I am getting at?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Put off thy shoes from off thy feet

Exodus 3:4-5
And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

Moses was asked to remove his shoes to show reverence for the place where he stood. Do you revere and respect your host’s home? It may not be holy ground, per se, but how better can you show respect than by removing your shoes at the door? As a host or hostess is it too much to ask your guests to respect your home? I do not believe so. Let us show respect for each other’s homes and take off our shoes.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to.... Bulgaria

Bulgaria Page in Wikipedia

Welcome to Bulgaria

I hereby grant the National Etiquette Award to Bulgaria, because it is the norm in that country to remove shoes when entering homes.

Bulgaria is seeking membership of the European Union. However, it may be a long time before it is accepted into the paper curtain; it has been given pretty big targets to meet in terms of dealing with corruption. Bulgaria suffers froma good deal of organised mafia-style crime.

Most British people know nothing about Bulgaria; they are moree likely to associate the name with the Wombles than with the country of that name. However, Bulgaria is acheiving some popularity as an inexpensive ski resort.

Bulgaria geographically corresponds with parts of the Thrace and Macedonia of New Testament times. Its people speak a Slavonic language, but their ethnic orign lies primarily in Central Asia.

Bulgaria was under Turkish rule for hundreds of years. When it was freed from Ottoman Turk rule, it became the centre of much diplomatic feuding between the Great Powers of the 19th century.

The former king hopes to reclaim his throne. He has been actively involved in the country's politics and served as prime minister until 2005, when a Socialist government was voted into power.

I met a Bulgarian girl who was doing a PhD in economics. I think she found me thoroughly patronizing. I knew a former private school pupil who was a bit of a fantasist. When he was at university he claimed to be dating a Bulgarian princess, though he often told similar tall tales.

Monday, May 15, 2006


I am always a little surprised when I see children wearing shoes at home, whether on television or in person. It surprises me because when I was a child, my parents expected me to remove my shoes at the door. When I visited my friends' homes, their parents often expected me to take my shoes off. So it always seems a little strange when I see children keeping their shoes on at home.

The practise of removing shoes was expected until I reached the age of about 12. My parents became less stringent about it as I got older. Occasionally this house rule would be revived in later years. It was restored when I was 21 when my parents and I moved to a house with cream carpets, though they were not consistent in keeping to it.

There are some homes, in the UK, where the hosts will expect the children of guests to remove their shoes, but would not expect it of adult guests. Some guests will insist that their children remove their shoes without removing their own. I can understand why some people may be more concerned about children's shoes; children do tend to be less careful about what they step in and are more likely to run around in long and wet grass. However, adults should never forget that their own shoes pick up an awful lot of less noticeable dirt. There is also the fact that children learn to follow rules better when adults act consistently. There is a certain amount of 'do as I say, not do as I do' in the requirement of shoes-off for children only.

Many childcare experts are of the opinion that children should wear shoes to the minimum necessary and therefore recommend shoes-off indoors for health reasons.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

More than feet touch the floor

A couple of months ago I invited some friends over for dinner. There was still a lot of snow on the ground from a significant snowfall we had a few days earlier. Shoes came off at the door out of courtesy and habit. We ate dinner at the kitchen table (alas! I have no dining room in my apartment) and then adjourned to the living room for a little social time. We watched a movie together and then one friend and I decided to play on the X-box for a little while. We sat on the floor to do that. I remember thinking how embarrassing it was to have a guest sitting on my dirty carpet. The shoes may have been off then, but they had not always been in the past, and the carpet shows it. I doubt that my friend really thought about it, but it was not a pleasant thought for me. If feet were the only thing that ever touched the floor, dirty carpets might not bother me so much, but they aren't. When one sits on the floor, hands end up on the floor, too. Dirt from the floor can come off on clothes as well. I will now ask my guests to remove their shoes for the sake of my guests who sit on the floor. It will help me be a hostess with a good conscience.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Decline of the Dinner Party

It seems the popularity of the dinner party is declining. The British golden age of dinner parties in the Seventies is long gone. No more are the evenings of Prawn and Avocado cocktails and Bonoffi pies.

The reasons for the decline are obvious. With women working longer hours than ever before, it is not easy for them to put together an elaborate and impressive feast.

There is increasingly an ever-expanding range of restaurants in which to dine. Why cook for your friends when you can take them with you to a restaurant?

I think the middle-class aspirational culture behind the dinner party has changed quite a lot as well.

The decline of the dinner party is unsurprising, but it is rather sad. I do suspect, however, that it may lead to more people adopting the shoes-off rule in their homes.

A family who regularly entertain guests might feel under social obligation to accept lots of shoes trampling their home. However, with the more contemporary culture of entertaining being done in restaurants, it is likely that the home will become a more sacred domestic sphere. Those who go out to have their social life may be more inclined to be jealous for the cleanliness of their home when they are there. They may well expect the guests that they do welcome to remove their shoes.

I do hope so anyway.

Monday, May 08, 2006

This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to.... Romania!

Romania - Wikipedia

Romania - World Factbook

Romanian News (Bucharest Daily News)

Centuries ago the Roman Empire granted land to nobles in what came to be known as Romania, a country of Latin people in the middle of the Slavic world. Romanians claim that their language is closer to the Latin of the Empire than any other Romance language spoken today.

Romania is a beautiful, lush, mountainous country. Driving through the Carpathian Mountains or Transylvanian Alps in the summer is breathtaking and affords a wonderful view of quaint Alpine houses resting on a carpet of wildflowers. People living in small mountain villages often own cows that they send out in the morning to graze where they choose. In the evening the sound of cow bells signals that the cows have come home. Romania still maintains a very large rural population and some of the mountain villages are populated by Gypsies.

After World War II, Romania was under the control of the USSR. It became and remained a Communist state until December 1989. The Communist government under Nicolae Ceausescu successfully impoverished the Romanian people and hindered industrialization. It also contributed to a disturbingly large population of orphaned and abandoned children who live in underfunded orphanages or on the streets. The government actively persecuted Christians who did not follow the state-controlled Romanian Orthodox Church. Even within the state church there were many persecuted for dissent. Today over 86% of Romanians officially belong to the Romanian Orthodox Church, which effectively serves as a hindrance to the growth of Evangelical churches. Ceausescu set up an improved system of education, so the Romanian people have a very high literacy rate, but that seems to be one of the only positive contributions made by the regime. Romania is making slow progress, but the poverty rate is still very high and the government is still very bureaucratic and highly susceptible to corruption.

Romania has some very lovely historical buildings for tourists to visit. In Transylvania one can visit Bran Castle, the castle Bram Stoker used as the basis for Dracula's castle. In Sinaia, in northern Wallachia, King Carol I's Peles Castle is open to tourists. Visitors are welcome to use the public restroom - a Turkish toilet - and they will kindly provide you with a very small amount of toilet paper for a fee. Inside the Peles Castle all visitors must wear felt slippers over their shoes to protect the hardwood floors and beautiful rugs. Both castles provide opportunity to purchase lovely handmade table cloths, runners and doilies and other local handicrafts from merchants. They will initially ask for much more than the merchandise is worth, so it also provides a great opportunity for improving one's haggling skills.

Although accustomed to poverty, the Romanian people are some of the most hospitable people I have ever met. What little they have is gladly offered to their guests. Romanian food is very good, too. (I was pleased to discover that they sell the same Fanta formula in Romania as they do in the Middle East. The European/Middle Eastern Fanta is far superior to the overly sweet and syrupy stuff bottled under the same name in the United States.) Experts in hospitality, Romanian hosts in Romania or abroad will not hesitate to ask you to kindly take your shoes off at the door, please.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Daily Traditions in Kyrgyzstan

Daily Traditions in Kyrgyzstan

I am a Bit Timid

Job 32:6
"And Elihu the son of Barchel the Buzite answered and said, I am young and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid and durst not shew you mine opinion."

At the Preachers' Fellowship today, a couple of guys were talking about beige carpets. It would have been a great opportunity to proselytise in favour of the Shoes-Off rule, however I was just too shy to give my opinion.

Why can I not be more bold?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Guests Bringing a Change of Shoes

I would advise those who insitute a shoes-off policy in their homes to inform guests in advance that they require removal of shoes. That way the guests are able to bring some slippers with them. I think this is likely to be more accpetable than the custom in some countries of lending guests slippers (people are often uncomfortable about wearing somebody else's footwear). I would say something along the lines of "You may want to bring some slippers with you." I think this sends a clear message.

However, what if guests turned up with a pair of shoes to change into on arrival? In Canada and Scandinavian countries, people have indoor shoes that are strictly for wearing in offices and schools that are not worn outdoors. However, in the United Kingdom, it is very unlikely that people own a pair of shoes that are only worn indoors, unless they regularly attend a gym or do ballet (and they are not going to wear that sort of shoes to a dinner party).

What should the 'no-shoes' host or hostess do in that circumstance?

If the change of shoes had high heels, I would simply say "I am sorry would you mind not putting those on, heels are not very good for the carpet/ floor". They might step on somebody's shoeless toes and do some damage, as well.

If the change of shoes were low-heeled, that would be a different matter. One could ask if they had been worn outdoors, but I think this suggests a lack of trust. The simple thing to do is to put up with this and not invite this person again if the floor looks a bit dirty afterwards.

There are a number of subtle ways of dealing with this situation. One could ask "Do you buy those shoes today?" Or more to the point, "You do not have to put those on, we are very casual here." You may not be very casual at all, but it might put them off putting on their silly change of shoes.

This dilemma might present itself in summer, when somebody might prefer to wear flip flops rather than go barefoot. That is a little awkward, because one has no way of telling whether the flip flops have been worn outside or not. I suppose that situation might have to be suffered.

At the moment in Britain, it is very fashionable for girls to wear shoes that look very much like slippers, so it is not all that easy to tell the difference between shoes and slippers.

At the end of the day, you will invite some people back and some guests will not be invited to return to your home.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD goes to.... Guyana!

Guyana Page in Wikipedia

Guyana News and Information

Guyana Online

I hereby grant the National Etiquette Award to Guyana, as it is customary in that country to remove shoes when entering homes.

Guyana is the only English-speaking country in South America.

The practise of shoes-off in homes is a result of the large numbers of people there who originate from the subcontinent of India. These were orignally agricultural labourers who were brought in by the British to replace the freed African slaves who no longer wanted to work on plantations. In the past there has been a good deal of racial tension between the Black minority who were politically and socially domminant and the Indian majority, who were politically marginalized.

Guyana is a very poor country. Its economy suffered the negative effect of Marxist rule for a long time.

There were some severe floods in Guyana a few years ago, a hazard resulting from its low-lying coastland.