easy street

By Diogenes (articles ) | Apr 23, 2007

Your Uncle Di is really behind the clerical fashion curve this days, only this morning made aware of WomenSpirit's Spring Robe Sale. There's something about a sleeveless clergy stock and non-committally stained glass that says the Summer Solstice, and the USG Sheetrock 400, are just around the corner!

A reasonable conjecture is that traditionally black clerical garb has its origins in some kind of early ascetical theology: signaling widowhood to the world or the like. For the same reason, perhaps, that the monks of some orders slept in their coffins, viz., as a memento mori, clergymen in Europe may have come to wear mourning full-time. That makes the modern emphasis on ministerial comfort all the more, well, modern.

But there's more than mere physical comfort in play. We're meant to find ourselves in a comprehensive, all-embracing, sense of well-being. Kneelers are out. Pews are padded. The road never forks. We can have our cake and eat it. No decision means a final separation. Everyone's a priest: dad, mom, sis, Aunt Gretchen with the tattoo and the butch haircut ... We can tolerate anything except intolerance. We are a Spandex People.

Even spiritual mentoring has changed. The old daguerrotypes and portraits of spiritual sages showed starved ascetics with burning eyes in a bony face. Today's gurus are exceptionlessly cuddly: your retreat master is almost certainly softer than you are, and most of his work consists in getting you in touch with your inner marshmallow. He'll have a great smile.

True, cucullus non facit monachum, and one sleeveless shell doth not a summer make -- even with two comfort fabrics to choose from. For all that, there's something fundamentally un-serious about adjustable, adaptable, emancipated religion. A line from Michael Frayn's Constructions comes to mind: "A toy car is a projection of a real car, made small enough for a child's hand and imagination to grasp. A real car is a projection of a toy car, made large enough for an adult's hand and imagination to grasp." Substitute "church" for "car" in Frayn's quote and you've got the key to the liberal project. If you order before May 20th, incidentally, all robes are 15% off.

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  • Posted by: - Apr. 27, 2007 5:19 PM ET USA

    When the Catholic Church follows ECUSA in this barbarism, we will all know we've been conned. It won't happen! It can't. Er, it better not. Women's ordination, as all students of liberal Protestantism know, is the door that opens all manner of heresy and evil.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 26, 2007 9:16 PM ET USA

    Mr. Di...you don't know 'nothin 'bout birthin' no babies, er, women...we wear black 'cause it makes our rears look slimmer.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 24, 2007 3:11 PM ET USA

    We share our Parish church. A slim, very attractive, unnaturally black-haired young woman in an unadorned "simple black dress", sporting a Roman collar, with vestments on a hanger over her shoulder, was seen going in. Her big smile seemed to say she thought herself an appealing model for young people in ministry. Two friendly old ladies in frumpy old dresses serve the Catholics.They thought Habits were a barrier to young people joining them in Religious life. It's all so silly and sadly ironic

  • Posted by: - Apr. 23, 2007 11:18 PM ET USA

    That sleeveless shell has an uncanny resemblance to the garment worn by my car mechanic. The tattoos are missing on the model, as is the grease around the fingernails. But other than that, the sartorial similarities are striking. I shall show him the WomenSpirit website right away so he can take advantage of the 15% savings.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 23, 2007 11:08 PM ET USA

    Uncle Di, Speaking of discomfort and Spandex People, whaddya think the ladies in clerical garb think of the NFL Combine? Do they really believe that the 40 yard dash is a fair test of a running back's explosiveness or is the test a mite unfair? And how about hill sprinting as a means of conditioning in the off season ?, I mean, COME ON PEOPLE, tossing your cookies in the old metal bucket just seems so pre conciliar these days.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 23, 2007 9:53 PM ET USA

    I'm buying "Anna's" robe! Will sew more cording on the sleeves, wear bangles, bracelets, large circled dark glasses, a dirty red bandana and look like Janis! That's Joplin to you younger crowd & don't say anything bad about her. Then "me and Fr. Bobbie McGee" could share the secrets of our souls as the windshield wipers flap down then he'll slip away in Salinas where he's looking for a home an' I hope he finds it. Freedom is just another word for...ohhh! Yawn. Stretch. Another 60's dream.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 23, 2007 9:11 PM ET USA

    Where's the basic single strand of pearls? Tastefully done, of course!

  • Posted by: - Apr. 23, 2007 7:40 PM ET USA

    You sure that this is not an early bird Halloween costume sale? The models (in the pair photo) look extremely uncomfortable as if they had recently eaten an apple recommended by a seemingly wise old snake. Could it be that they were not able to cover themselves with leaves and just grabbed the first handy clothing items?

  • Posted by: - Apr. 23, 2007 4:11 PM ET USA

    Where are her red Prada shoes? She can't be Episcopal Pope without the required footware!

  • Posted by: - Apr. 23, 2007 4:04 PM ET USA

    Smirk! Cry!

  • Posted by: - Apr. 23, 2007 3:57 PM ET USA

    Are these items available for purchase by male priests as well? I'd like to see some of them get back into some form of clerical clothing. And, these fashions just might attract them.