I have long been a fan of the card game euchre. One of the few pictures of me in my high school yearbook shows our little group of friends gathered around the traditional lunch-with-euchre table. I have stories and anecdotes about crazy or marathon games of euchre, strange places I’ve played (such as “gringo corner” in the Costa Rican airport for six hours) and awful mistakes I’ve made, the worst of which was misdealing when my partner had a lay-down loner (sorry, Denny).
Anyway, euchre is one of those games that features a lot of local variations. I’m sure there’s an according-to-Hoyle way to play, and I’m also sure that we don’t play it. One of the more shocking examples of regional variance is that while most euchre players use a 6 and a 4 to keep score, players from Michigan use…two 5s. Crazy.
Two of the house rules that my friends use to play euchre are “a card laid is a card played” to prevent picking up an incorrectly-played card, and “ace no face” to get a misdeal due to an inordinately bad hand. These two rules have given way to the general tenet of “if it rhymes, it’s a rule.” We even reject such nonsense as the idea of “partner’s best,” partly on the grounds that it doesn’t rhyme.
The problem, of course, with “if it rhymes, it’s a rule” is that it doesn’t rhyme. There’s a little bit of alliteration, sure, but it doesn’t even come close to rhyming. So, if “if it rhymes, it’s a rule” is a rule, then it makes itself illegal. And if it’s not a rule, then it’s not a rule.
So until we come up with a rhyming version of “if it rhymes, it’s a rule,” I guess we’re stuck with Hoyle.
A few weeks ago, my family was able to worship at a church of a completely different denomination. The pastor’s sermon that week, conveniently enough, seemed to be centered on the denominational distinctives of his church body ― what they believed, why they believed it, and how they were different from other Christian denominations. (I say “conveniently” because this is one of the things I’m most interested in when I meet people of other denominations, and it was just handy that the sermon answered many of my questions before I even had to ask them.)
I don’t have the time to go into the whole gamut of ways in which this church body differs from my own. I will share that I learned that the “-ian” at the end of “Christian” stands for “I Ain’t Nothin’” because Christ is all there is. I didn’t know that before.
The other interesting thing I learned is that this particular denomination doesn’t use instruments in its public worship. I thought when Brother Billy stood in front of church and led the congregation in their many hymns with his clear, powerful voice, he was doing it because they didn’t have (or couldn’t afford) a piano or an organ. Turns out, he was doing it for doctrinal reasons.
It seems that this particular denomination follows the general principle, “if it’s not specifically mentioned in the New Testament, you shouldn’t use it in public worship.” They can’t find any specific examples of instrumental music in the New Testament, so they don’t use any instruments in their worship. (Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 don’t count, because, despite what you can infer from OT worship practices, the NT only specifically mentions the human voice.)
Now, there’s a whole lot a person can say about this idea, but the one thing I’m going to say is this: it doesn’t rhyme.
Seriously, where in the NT is the general principle “if it’s not specifically mentioned in the New Testament, you shouldn’t use it in public worship”? It’s not even close to something that you might call a NT worship principle ― in fact, it seems to run counter to the principle that Paul articulates in Colossians 2:16-17, 1 Corinthians 10:31, and Galatians 5:1. The rule disqualifies itself. It doesn’t meet its own standard. So, if “if it’s not specifically mentioned in the New Testament, you shouldn’t use it in public worship” is a rule, then it makes itself illegal. And if it’s not a rule, then it’s not a rule.
So until we come up with a rhyming version of “if it’s not specifically mentioned in the New Testament, you shouldn’t use it in public worship,” I guess we’re stuck with a pipe organ.