Saturday, August 27, 2011

A bit too casual...

One Priest has wondered aloud about the demeanor and dress of his parishioners if just maybe they are stopping by the church while on their way to other activities they consider more important than Mass.  Hmmmm....sounds familiar, ya shure!

One bulletin item proclaimed, with a gag headline: "PLANS FOR PARISH SWIMMING POOL SCRAPPED! After much study, our finance committee has determined it would not be feasible to construct an indoor swimming pool in our church. ... As a result, we can now announce with certainty that those who have been arriving for Mass as if dressed for the pool need not do so. Also, we hope to keep the air conditioning cranking all summer long. So you do not need to wear shorts, halter tops or bikinis to Mass."

You can read the whole piece by Terry Mattingly here.  His words are entirely appropriate to the scene in Lutheran congregations as well.  Personally I do not get it when folks dress down for Church -- when I know that they have a closet full of perfectly fine clothes.  I wonder if the first line of this post does not have a lot to do with it.

Over the years I have struggled with tube tops that revealed way too much -- especially at the communion rail.  I have spoken about it in general but have not had enough nerve to tell a woman or man directly that their clothing is inappropriate.

One Sunday a group of Harley boys from our congregation were heading out after Sunday school on a motorcycle ride and a few showed up in beer t-shirts and jeans (leather chaps).  I made a little joke to them but they all had family here and could have made a quick change in the restroom and sent their good clothes on home with their families.  I honestly think that we live in a casual office, casual business attire, casual wedding, casual funeral mentality so much so that people do not even think -- and that is the point.  They do not think.  What does what I am wearing say about me?  About what I am doing now?

This is NOT about clothes but about attitudes.  Again, our best for His glory.  Nuff said.


Sage said...

I've cringed myself seeing all too much acreage exposed and felt so badly for the pastor having to uhm, stand over it so to speak.

I think too often folks don't realize who (I should probably capitolize that) they are meeting at the divine service. I was raised to respect both the service and the one officiating. I just don't fathom what some people are thinking when they come to church wearing some of the get ups I've seen over the years.

I've kept a change of clothes in my truck when we were going to the river for the rest of the day. I'd never even consider wearing shorts or a swimsuit even under a top.

I think if people truly understood and believed what happens at church they'd dress appropriately, at least I'd hope they would.

Janis Williams said...

Fr. Peters,

I think you hit the nail on the head. It isn't about measuring skirts' distance from the kneecap. It's not deciding which colors/fabrics are appropriate.

I've been in churches whose standard dress for women was "frumpy." Men would've been re-dressed at the door if they came in a tee-shirt. That's Law, plain and simple.

It's about the attitude, as you say. It's about being conscious of surroundings, and Whose Presence in which you find yourself.

Bill Cwirla puts it this way: If you were invited to the White House to meet the President, would you wear that?

Anonymous said...

The casual dress code started in the
work place on Friday with Casual
Fridays. It soon carried over into
Casual Sundays in our Worship Service
at Church. It is disturbing that this
trend was started by adults and is
now practiced by our teenagers.

This trend can only be reversed if
parish leaders set the example for
proper dress. People like the
parish president and his wife, elders and their wives, etc.

Terry Maher said...

It's a Boomer thing, not just the church. The Boomers effectively made adolescence an adult life style. This is just one of the results. Marriage or living to-gether as an adult version of "going steady" is another.

Casual Friday became "business casual", where you can go to work dressed like a schoolkid in collared shirts and pants, and schoolkids go to school dressed like they once did on weekends in T shirts and shorts.

And people generally go about dressed like they were formerly embarrassed to answer the door. I worked a convention last weekend, and though I was not surprised at it, it is still amazing to see the hotel staff dressed better than most of the guests, whereas formerly one dressed for travel as an extended presentation of oneself in public.

"Sunday best" or "Sunday/Go to meeting" dress is gone. Well hell, so are Sundays (and meetings). When I was a kid most everybody on the street got up and went somewhere for Sunday services. Now few do, and of those few, some use the opportunity their churches provide to get it out of the way on Saturday late afternoon.

Way more than a works-righteousness utmost for his highest. We ain't got an utmost worth crap. But we did once have a common standard of appropriateness for work, play, and public, including the church's public worship. Now we have adolescence as an adult life style, via the generation on whose leading edge I am.

Anonymous said...

I have always dressed modestly in loose unrevealing clothes. I am sure people misunderstand my attitude because of what I wear. I started dressing down when one of the elders goosed me one Sunday when I bent over to care for a small child. Now I wear jeans and t-shirts as standard fare to worship. That is mostly all I own these days. I believe 100% that we should give our best to God! But If it causes men to sin and me to be uncomfortable when I try to look pretty at church or anywhere else, I would gladly wear the rattiest sweatpants instead! I do agree that many women wear clothes that reveal way too much skin or hug their curves too tightly though.

Terry Maher said...

aka Past Elder:

There is no excuse for that elder's behaviour whatever, even if you had shown up for church in a bikini.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for saying that. I only intended to point out that while dressing down for worship probably usually does show thoughtlessness, or at least ignorance, there may also be unseen reasons for what a person does. If someone persistently dresses inappropriately, a gentle, personal conversation might be helpful to the pastor as well as the parishoner.

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

It is certainly cultural, its gotten so that my wife and I joke about going to Walmart wearing jeans and a T-shirt is overdressed. I grew up in the days when men always wore suits and women always wore dresses to church. The downside to that was how people were looked down upon for what they wore, either being out of style, not fitting properly, or worn too many sundays in a row, etc. etc. So there you go, we're either falling off the horse on the side of irreverance or off the opposie side in pharaseism. So there you go, sinners all in need of being clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

tubbs said...

Amen! I was a child in the 50's and remember well the nasty competitive attitudes people developed about their Sunday duds. (And not just the old church-hens!)Modesty should be the key guide in dressing for Sunday.

The Church bulletin of a traditionalist (tridentine)parish I know of publishes its dress code in the flyer every week. Trying to canonize 19th and early 20th bourgeouis style for church attendance is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

This is why I normally don't attend church. I don't feel like I should dress like I'm attending the Oscars, and I don't have a closet full of 'church clothes'

Anonymous said...

Qhote: I don't feel like I should dress like I'm attending the Oscars, and I don't have a closet full of 'church clothes'

So who said you need to dress like that? Wear the best you have and it will be good enough (but avoid the Hooters, beer, and other inappropriate ads). Me thinks you are looking for an excuse to justify not coming... this one is NOT it...

Aritul said...

This is definitely a post to reread for I am guilty of dressing casually (jeans and a t-shirt) to go to church.