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« The Fires of Heaven | Main | Anna Aven: Locating the Narrative in Pop Culture »

May 20, 2004


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it looks as if typepad is accepting my comments again - hurray!

i had written a pithy amazing comment (take my word for it) about your post when i got blocked by SORBS :/ and it got eaten, so now i'll comment on the above comments.

i just finished an article on power in the church that is due to be published in youthworker journal that addresses this exact issue.

i came from a 'power weilding' denomination and it caused a lot of damage. we're in a much better place now, but you still 'wait for the other shoe to drop' sometimes.

my previously eaten comment dealt with the great suprise that rick saint made about those outside the church responding to his collar. i was relieved and gladdened by that. it gives me joy that the collar still holds 'happy thoughts' instead of negative images i feared.

i think it would be a great experiment (and i know it goes deeper than that for you chris) to give it a trial run, see how it feels and if it 'fits' you and your ministry. i think that's part of what emergent is about, old being new again, re-creating and bringing new meaning to things that have been lost to us.

i'll be interested to see/read about your decision and the outcome it will have in your ministry. thanks for sharing the thought process.

What does a clerical collar say? Pt.2

I'm an African American Catholic priest (ordained July 2000). Currently in the Roman Catholic tradition, priests are meant to wear the clerical collar whenever engaged in ministerial service. However, I often choose to wear my "black and whites" (occasionally "gray and white") at other times--such as on airplane flights, or going to cultural/arts events for several reasons.

One reason is that I hope to help people be all the more aware of the racial and ethnic diversity in the Christian church and particularly in its, shall we say, "visibly obvious" leadership. Another reason is to be a visibly recognizable sign that "the Kingdom of God is open for business." Regarding cultural/arts events, I admit to having an agenda of wanting people to realize--if even subliminally--that priests and ministers take an interest in what is good, praiseworthy, mind-and heart-engaging and beautiful in those realms of human expression.

BTW, related to the thread about Doug Pagitt's article on preaching, I'm in the Twin Cities and just attended a worship gathering at Solomon's Porch, where Pagitt is pastor. Ironically, he was not there 'cause he was attending the Emergent Conference in Nashville.

hard to think of jesus wearing a clerical collar and trying to be recognized by his dress...

That may be the best argument I've heard for no special dress. On the other hand, Jesus did clearly fit into the contemporary concept of a rabbi, so it's probably fair to conjecture that he did dress differently. The egalitarian hippie Jesus may not really be that accurate a picture. Very stimulating discussion.

(Sorry about the three trackbacks. I'm doing a server move and things are funky.)

"hard to think of jesus wearing a clerical collar and trying to be recognized by his dress..."

That's a helpful reflection, Scott. Thanks.

This, combined with Justin's "rabbi" angle has me wondering... was Jesus your "typical" rabbi? He seemed to hang out in what were considered unconventional places, with unconventional people...and my hunch is that he stuck out from what was considered the status quo.

Is it wrong for us to do the same?
Which is worse? To distinguish ourselves by wearing a clerical collar, or to wear a condenscending, I'm-more-spiritual-than-you attitude? I fear that ordinary folk (if I can get away with even using such a term) are just as guilty of tarnishing the reputation of the name, "Christian", as any member of the clergy who might sport clerical garb in public. In fact, when it comes to the desire to announce "the kingdom of God is open for business," (as has been previously suggested), I'm a lot more leary of religious wacko's touting signs than of a minister wearing a collar. :O

Well...I guess I'm done thinking out loud for now. Let's keeping probing and asking the tough questions -- this has been great!

Wow...this conversation just gets better and better. Thanks, Charles, Scott, and Justin.

I'll confess to my ignorance of Jewish rabbinical customs in the time of did rabbis dress that set them apart? Prayer shawls? I thought those were worn by lots of men. I'll have to do some research on this...

"Regarding cultural/arts events, I admit to having an agenda of wanting people to realize--if even subliminally--that priests and ministers take an interest in what is good, praiseworthy, mind-and heart-engaging and beautiful in those realms of human expression.

Fr. Charles -- I enjoyed your entire post -- it was great. But the above comments really caught my attention. Your very presence serving as an "affirmation-of-sorts" for things the culture-at-large may assume "Christians" are against -- hmmmm. I like that.

I'm a retired professor at Spring Arbor University in Michigan, and an Elder in the Southern Michigan Conference. We celebrated Easter Eve one year with our John Wesley Liturgy and Eucharist service on Saturday evenings - derrived from the Book of Common Prayer, Rite I. We wear robes, acolytes process in with Icons, the celebrant waves incense over the congregation and altar, elevates the host and wine at consecration while a congregation member rings the sanctus bell and the celebrant bows. Different volunteers from the congregation deliver the homily each week.

This high-church approach to communal worship is well received.

I would *love* to wear clericals. Have wanted to for a long time. FM pastors in England, and Africa, do, but it's a cultural thing there. I wish general conference would make it optional for pastors here.

Tom -- what a pleasure to meet a fellow Free Methodist, and such a distinguished one at that! Spring Arbor's current president, Gayle Beebe, is a good friend. Reading your description of celebrating the Eucharist was thrilling! What a far cry from the common Evangelical practice of staying in our comfortable seats and having ushers serve us, huh?

"This high-church approach to communal worship is well received."

Out of curiosity, what percentage of the congregation is in their 20's or 30's?

Concerning the wearing of "clericals", I wasn't aware of a general conference ban. Maybe you could elaborate a little more about that.

I sure would love to visit your service sometime. Any chance that you've got some photos or video of these services?

DP: I had a funny experience with a collar just this week.. .I was visiting a kid in jail. had on my jeans (attempt at relevancy) stood there waiting with a lutheran youth pastor wearing a collar. The guard came out got him and totally bypassed me. Came back out because he knew there was another pastor waiting and ending up making an announcement on the PA to find me. It never once occured to him that this denim clad, 30 something chick was a real pastor. . It was very funny when he realized he'd passed me 4 times!!

TammyJo -- that's hilarious and sad all wrapped up in one. Wow.

Maybe next time you should wear jeans and a collar. Or...maybe a denim collar? ;)

Thought some of you might be interested in
For some practical how to's as well as a look at how at least one Anglican works it out.

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