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What Does a Clerical Collar Say, part 4

Clerical_collar_9It amazes me how popular these series of posts continue to be.  And even more fascinating has been the increasingly positive sentiments in favor of the clergy wearing clerical attire in public. 

In response to What Does a Clerical Collar Say, part 3 -- a friend recently emailed me with an interesting article by Ken Collins: Why Clergy Should Wear Clericals. Take the time to read Ken's thoughts on the subject and then weigh in with your reaction.  I'd really enjoy hearing your responses.

And in case you're wondering... yes, I'm seriously considering wearing a collar myself.  In fact, as a bit of an experiment, I've been wearing a rather prominent wooden cross while in public over the past 6 weeks.  I've been curious what people's reactions would be, as well as seeing if I could consistenly give up some of my precious anonyminity. So far, so good.  But I'll keep you posted.


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I am in favour of the collar, over the big wooden cross. If I saw you in the collar I'd figure you were from a liturgical tradition and a professional, Chaplain etc..

whereas if I saw you with the large wooden cross, well it makes me think about TBN (shudder) and fanatics...



Seraphim -- LOL! It's not that big of a cross! LOL! But your point is a good one. Thanks!

Hey Chris -- take the plunge!

Back on 10th July when I preached at our church, I wore my clerical collar and faded Levis (with a hole in the knee!) and beat-up black skechers (skater shoes).

Most people were unsure what to make of it at first, but then they relaxed and realized I was the same guy I have always been. A couple people said they had new found respect for me. One person said "You're always a great teacher, but for some reason I paid closer attention because of what you were wearing."

Go figure!

The *really* cool part, though, was heading downtown with some friends after church, and walking into a grocery store. Were were BBQing at their house, and needed some groceries and beers. I got a couple "huh?" type looks, but then on the street walking back, I had one grocery bag and my friend had another. Our wives were with us, and as the four of us walked up the street, I was conscious of the looks we all got -- I think most people assumed my friend and his wife and my wife were one group of three, and I was by myself...no on esaid that to me -- it was just a feeling I got. Sort of "set apart", I guess.

I'm thnking of wearing the collar to my (secular -- RN) job tomorrow, and then to a local minor-league ball game tomorrow night.

I'll let you know how things go!

~ Keith

I agree with Seraphim about the cross. It doesn't actually identify you as anything. Some people wear it because it is an interesting piece of jewelry.

I think the clerical collar gives a "professional Christian" appearance. Which may or may not what you are going for. My church doesn't use the collar, no identifying marks at all, but if something were really bothering me and I was in a grocery store and saw someone in a collar, I might stop and ask them to pray for the problem. (Of course, do you want strange middle age women accosting you in the grocery store?)

I've found that simply wearing a cross gets me more access in a hospital when doing visitation. Busy staff will take a bit more time with me, I think. I haven't tried wearing a collar to the hospital yet. Admittedly, these are just impressions, not a scientific study. I'd think it would also depend on the local culture.

Friars in my Order normally wear a 3" or so wooden Cross, in Habit or out.

I love the picture of the podpriest !

On the Ooze and on my blog, we've been exploring the topic of headcoverings for women in worship. Interestingly, as I've rummaged the Internet on the subject, I hear women who cover 24/7 saying the same thing as those about the collar: They proclaim that God is at work, and there's no way they can hide their faith.

Gina, that's really interesting. So then, you're saying that head coverings are a public statement of faith, right? But does the culture at large interpret head coverings that way? (just curious about your thoughts)

I'm all for priest wearing collars. It's great identification...wolves should be proud of who they are and indentify themselves prominently ;0

There is no question that the collar lets everyone know what you are doing and that you are on duty to help. Some people - esp protestants and witches - really have a negative reaction to it. But overall if you have a smile on your face people can size up what is going on.

Overall, I would say the collar is more polarizing than anything, but that is Ok to me. People need to make up their minds. I have been of the notion that there has been too much effort to make the church compatible with the world. Its one thing to make the church accessable to the world, and another to make it compatible. So polarization is Ok since Light is polarized against darkness.

I live in the Silicon Valley, and I am pretty much the only guy I ever see in collar around here. There had been some BIG sex scandals with the Roman Catholics here in town a couple years ago and after that everyone just left their collars in the closet so that they would'nt be identified with child molesters. The RC's and The Episcopals went to wearing embroidered polo shirts. A kind of corporate-church collar that says that church is nothing more than another corporation. Not a timeless mystical reality and bearers of The Gospel of Jesus Christ.

But if your going to wear the collar you have to do the whole thing. In my opinion if you are going to wear the levis it dillutes the psychological message of the collar. It seems non-commital to me. It's like saying "Yeah, I do this thing. But I'm just a regular guy, I dunno". Its like being married. If you get married then throw away your little black book. You're married and waffling is childish and wont get any respect. People respect a MAN. So if you wear the collar someone might buy you a coffee, or someone will hate you (I get both). But either way they will see that you are committed to Gods work and people respect committment. They wont love you for it, but they will respect it. In the end what they love or hate about the collar is what it represents: Jesus and His Kingdom and His order.

here here Fr. Stan. Let them see the collar and a huuuuge cross, then let the chips fall where they may. Women wearing head coverings is beautiful too, as are nuns in habits. No in the closet Christianity here.

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