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Book Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


How We Behave at the Feast
Reflections on Living in an Age of Plenty
Dwight Currie
Cliff Street Books 02/00 Hardcover $21.00
ISBN: 0060195312

The Buddha taught the virtue of making "the seven offerings that cost nothing." They are a compassionate eye, a smiling face, loving words, physical service, a warm heart, a seat, and lodging. In this gracefully written collection of 52 essays, Dwight Currie honors a broad range of small acts of kindness that we know as old-fashioned manners. As the co-owner and operator of Misty Valley Books in Chester, Vermont, the author is well acquainted with philosophical writers, poets, and artists. Their wisdom is liberally sprinkled throughout this salutary work that if organized to follow the calendar year.

At the outset, Currie notes: "Never before in human history have so many of us luxuriated in pleasures once reserved only for royalty." Problem is we have forgotten our manners at the Feast of Existence. Currie offers thoughtful commentary on the difference between taking a stand and striking a pose, the dangers in expectations, the virtues of hospitality, the importance of charity, and the value of mutual promises.

One example of good manners is the following: "The next time you find yourself dining on someone else's reputation, snacking on someone's feelings, or enjoying a steady diet of nothing except stories about yourself, remember you are talking with your mouth full." Civility has to be one of the most precious resources of the twenty-first century. This is the perfect book to give to a loved one to mark a life transition, such as a graduation.


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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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