DEAR MISS MANNERS: I read a lot about religion and have become interested in a specific faith that happens to have a church near my house. I am most definitely not interested in converting to this faith as I am secure in my own, but I do find their beliefs and practices interesting for purely intellectual reasons.
I want to attend one of their Sunday services, but a friend told me it would be unspeakably rude and deceptive to do so, since I do not intend to take on their faith as my own and am no better than a "gawker." My intention is not to gawk or make a spectacle of myself of course, but merely to quietly observe the service for my own education. Do you think it would be rude and wrong to do this?
GENTLE READER: That's not gawking. Gawking is when you tap people on the shoulder while they are praying and ask them to let you by to see the paintings. Serious religion is regarded as a never-ending quest, and regular church services are considered to be open -- even welcoming -- to well-behaved visitors, as you have assured Miss Manners you will be.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our daughter will graduate from high school this June. While we were discussing how she'd like to celebrate, she made it clear that she was unwilling to invite some of her close relatives as they will embarrass her.
Granted, some family members have quirks, like preaching, complaining or overeating. However, we let our daughter know EVERYONE has relatives like this and her guests wouldn't be offended in such company, thus she shouldn't be embarrassed. She maintains it would ruin her affair. In the end we told her she could have the party, but must eliminate all of that side of the family so no one member is slighted.
This has left us feeling bad. We love all of our family members, quirks and all. She says she loves them, too, just not at her party.
Family is family and all would enjoy her graduation. Please let us know if we should give in to this selfish child's desire and exclude half of the family from the celebration. At this point I feel as if we shouldn't have a gathering at all, which is a disappointment, too. What should we do?
GENTLE READER: Exclude the other half of the family.
No, wait -- your daughter did not ask Miss Manners to say that. We should all cherish our quirky relatives, not least because that is how they might define us.
It is difficult to give a party for both teenagers and adults, as they have different ideas of what constitutes a good time and different definitions of "loud." There are ceremonial occasions on which one must give such a party, and Miss Manners will unhesitatingly support you if your daughter makes the same argument in regard to her wedding.
But graduation night is best left to the (heavily supervised) young. Unless you have the room and the energy to throw, in effect, simultaneous parties that are mixed only for greetings and perhaps a celebratory toast (incidentally minimizing the time at which your daughter's friends observe her relatives' quirks), Miss Manners recommends having your family party at a different time.