Saturday, August 1, 2009

Secular clothing

I was sorry to hear that Candy was sick today. It's a shame to miss out on nice summer weather because you're sick.

Candy wrote: I am not dressed lady-like today. My legs are cold, so I'm wearing pants and a t-shirt. This is as secular looking as I get.

We have written here before about how the meaning of words change over time, and that it is especially important to define your terms when relating to Catholicism, because of a vocabulary which has been set for centuries.

I thought Candy's use of "secular" here was a bit humorous, given the root of the word.

I assume that Candy meant " not overtly or specifically religious."

I thought that her dresses were chosen mostly for modesty, but she has mentioned previously that she likes being immediately identifiable as a Christian. Which always makes me wonder why Christian men are allowed to go incognito. Couldn't they wear robes?

Anyway, the Catholic meaning of secular is not bound by monastic vows or rules ; specifically : of, relating to, or forming clergy not belonging to a religious order or congregation.

In the Middle Ages, churches were part of monasteries. However, at a certain point, priests began leaving the monasteries to tend to the "secular" people outside the monasteries. Today, there are priests who are part of a religious order, and secular priests, who are diocean priests.

Just a bit of trivia, for those interested.

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Moonshadow said...

In grad school, I had a religious priest as an instructor; he was a Passionist but always dressed in basic black clerics. Several classmates, who didn't happen to know, mistook him for a diocesan priest and when he showed a bit more personality than a typical parish priest tends to have, they didn't know what to make of him! God rest his soul.

As I had occasion to be in 2 (count 'em - TWO!) PCUSA churches today, this morning and this evening, I put on a dress and stayed in it all day, even to the grocery store in between and meeting with our children's photographer at our home to look through proofs.

And I felt very self-conscious about being so clearly identifiable as a Christian ... I felt like a reproach to those who probably didn't attend church this morning. Even in my own home, I felt self-conscious as I negotiated with the photographer. But, you know, at the grocery store were women in saris and men in yarmulkes and girls in bonnets, so I got over myself.

Barbara C. said...

The thing is...I don't think that wearing a dress automatically makes one identifiable as a Christian. Hasidic Jewish women are also skirts/dresses only. Sad to say, but being skirts at times and places when most women would wear pants only tends to make "secular" folks just identify you as a "religious whacko" in general. And unless someone saw you everyday, they would probably wouldn't think anything of it at all. I know plenty of atheists who wear skirts in the summer a lot, too.

Kelly said...

I was once at the zoo and saw a large group of teens who were dressed religiously. At least, all of the girls were wearing long denim skirts with long hair.

These teens were teasing the gorillas by doing everything a sign said NOT to do. They yelled, clapped, hooted, and were tossing grass at the gorillas, and they cheered when the male got extremely agitated and started acting aggressively.

I reflected that dressing in a distinctively Christian way can backfire when you are behaving in a distinctively non-Christian manner.

Moonshadow said...

Hasidic Jewish women are also skirts/dresses

Sure, black ... and wigs. IOW, there's more to their distinctive garb than just skirts & dresses.

I was once at the zoo

Well, you know, they're kids.

I was at the Jordan River with a bunch of Catholics, even some religious, observing another group of Christians solemnly perform adult baptisms. We did not contain our contempt for them, 'though we were dressed as tourists.

Twain was wrong, clothes do not make the man ... or woman.

Sue Bee said...

In the community where I grew up there was a large old order Amish population. Occasionally we would spot "Amish behaving badly." Always was the beardless males (rumspringa, perhaps?).

Spotted them getting drunk a time or two, and one guy spying on the "English" girls at the beach.

If you are going to dress conspicuously you are going to be conspicuous.

Barbara C. said...

Lubavitcher Hasidic don't necessarily dress all in black. And they usually try to buy the higher end wigs made from human hair that look more natural. Of course, they go out in the world more...they believe that every Jew that they can make more observant brings them closer to the coming of the Messiah/return of the Messiah.