Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Emergent Dress

posted by xscot mcknight

Rarely do I think about what I “should” wear, and I like it when local churches tell me that I don’t even need to wear a tie for the Sunday morning sermon. (My kind of place.) But, I did think about what to wear at the NPC when speaking with the Emergent leaders. I decided to be myself. What do you think the ideal Emergent appearance is?(Not entirely serious.)
I met up with Tony Jones early, and he was wearing long blue jeans — the kind that look a little dirty, a T-shirt that was visible at his neckline, and a long-sleeved Oxford — untucked. Tennis shoes, I think. Don’t know about a belt. On the second day, no kidding, he was leading us all in flip-flops (maybe Rainbow sandals) and shorts. He did a masterful job. I worried he’d stub his toe on one of those chairs as he moved about with that microphone.
Then I saw John Raymond, Zondervan’s leader behind this event, and he was wearing Adidas Superstars, denim shorts, and I don’t think his shirt was tucked in either. Don’t know about a belt. Pagitt was wearing the same sort of thing — only bigger items because he’s about 6-6. LeRon and I could wear Doug’s shorts as Capris. What made him unusual was that he was riding around in a scooter because he broke a bone in his foot.
Then I saw Dan Kimball and his appearance was distinct: Doc Martin-like shoes, blue jeans with a rolled up cuff, a T-Shirt under a black jacket and a black leather jacket over that. Stylish hair.
John Burke next: Doc Martin-like shoes, blue jeans, and nice Oxford (T-shirt visible) shirt — not tucked in. Didn’t see a belt.
Ryan Bolger is a bear of a guy with lots of hair — on top and on the face. Big coat; denim pants. I saw a belt. Then I saw a guy like me: LeRon Shults. Slacks with a polo; ordinary shoes; a belt.
There is no wonder that Shelly Pagitt, at lunch, in a burst of humor with me, suggested I needed a total makeover.
I wore slacks with a crease and cuff; a long-sleeved shirt; fountain pen in the pocket; Born shoes. Microfiber slacks. Stunningly comfortable. V-neck T-shirt. John Raymond leaned over before I spoke and said, “Nice microfiber!” As a student of mine in the mid-80s, in front of my whole Synoptic Gospels class, John gave me a good ribbing about having a T-shirt visible at the neckline. He and Ken Carr roasted me on the last day, and both were wearing Oxfords with a visible T-shirt — which of course they pointed out and it was the first time I had ever noticed our difference. So I switched, that very year. Now I find I’ve lost my way in the style world. Somewhere along the line John changed on this style and didn’t inform me.
Frankly, LeRon and I took the style show to a new level. We looked like Professors, acted like Professors, talked like Professors, and dressed like Professors. Shelly, come to think of it, I’m not sure I need I makeover. There’s nothing like a 50 year decked out in neatly-trimmed slacks, a shirt tucked in, and a visible belt.
Clearly, I’m missing something, but Emergent folks have style and it is a style. In fact, they look like my students. Maybe that’s the whole point. It has been hard on me, this issue of how to dress today, but maybe I’ve figured it out:
I’ve decided Emergent dress might all have to do with the belt. “Visible belts,” I said to myself as I entered my hotel room, “must be a thing of the past.” I kept asking myself, “What is so bad about tucking in your shirt and showing a leather belt?” There was a big mirror in my room, and I looked myself over but good both ways, and it just didn’t look right for me to wear my shirt out.
All this has to be said, and I haven’t even gotten to the soul patch! That’s part of the Emergent uniform. John Burke, John Raymond, Doug Pagitt … and Ryan Bolger has super-sized his.
And sometimes the Emergent folk wear colored T-shirts under the Oxford. Never done that in my life and I can’t figure out why they do that. Matthew’s House Project sent me a brown T-shirt once; maybe it was a subtle hint. I haven’t even worn it yet. When does one wear a colored T-shirt? Anyway, I wouldn’t wear it because it is not a V-neck.
The other thing I noticed is that the Emergent folks all use bics and sometimes wear them in their pockets, and this disturbs me. I don’t care about the belts, but it is anti-Emergent to be using a disposable pen like a bic and toss those suckers away all the time and clog up our world. Environmentalists prefer fountain pens.
Somebody send Tony and Doug a fountain pen because they clearly don’t need belts.
John, let me know next time when the styles change.



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dan mcgowan

posted February 26, 2006 at 8:13 am


I realize this post is all tongue-in-cheek – but, still, I continue to be fascinated with our obsession with what we wear “to church” – like God, or Jesus, or the Holy Spirit even care – - or even SEE it, for that matter?? (I’ve never thought of that until just this moment – does God really even “SEE” what we wear? – Is is He so busy “seeing Christ in us” that He sees what CHRIST is wearing instead? Hmmmm….)
I just did a poll on my blog about what we should wear to church. About half the respondants stated we should wear “anything goes / jeans are okay.”
Perhaps the tide is changing as from when I was a kid going to church – thank God!
“Bless be the TIE that BINDS!” – ha!



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Anonymous

posted February 26, 2006 at 8:38 am


The Upward Way Press » Blog Archive » Style

[...] Scot McKnight does a nice wrap-up of Emergent Dress. If I ever emerge, I will need a whole new wardrobe. I guess it’s a young man’s game.   [link] [...]



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DAWN HUSNICK

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:08 am


HA! MY CHURCH IS IN A VERY UPSCALE-MIDDLE-CLASS NEIGHBORHOOD (OK-GLEN ELLYN)…LATELY I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO WEAR MY OLD-LOOKING (OF COURSE THEY ARE BRAND NEW-THEY JUST LOOK LIKE I WAS INVOLVED IN A TRAUMATIC CAR ACCIDENT OR SOMETHING WHILE WEARING THEM )JEANS AND A BORROW T-SHIRT FROM MY 18 YR OLD DAUGHTER, AND MY ROYAL BLUE CONVERSE SNEAKS-IN AN ATTEMPT TO BE ‘COUNTER-CULTURAL’…I NOTICED MY PASTOR IS GOING WITHOUT THE TIE LATELY…HHHMMMNNNN……..
I GUESS I FEEL THE CASUAL DRESS MAKES US MORE APPROACHABLE AND RELAXED….



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Joel Richardson

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:12 am


Concern or an over-emphasis (you “need” a makeover) with outward fashion is a barometer of how conformed to any culture one is. And being that the Emergent cutlture has a focus on conforming to the style and fashion of this age, it makes me rather suspicious, being that they at the same time also claim to be in the process of diagnosing and offering remedy to the other various diseases of this age. If we are to rebel against materialism, then I say lets start with a concern for fashion. I say bring back the headcoverings for women during prayer!! (Yes, that was intended to cause a reaction)



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Scot McKnight

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:16 am


Joel,
Are you suggesting the previous attire, what I feel comfortable in, was not a part of a previous culture?



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Van S

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:23 am


For many emerging type folk, there isn’t any deliberate attempt to relate to current fashion. Many folks dress stylishly because they are a part of a culture that dresses that way. They don’t have to think about it, or plan to dress fashionably so much as they have to dress the way that makes sense to them. I dress the way I do because it makes sense to me, as a 30 year old urban dweller.
So, if you are professor, and it makes sense to dress like one, then by all means do it. And if you are a business person and you dress like one, good! Let’s not worry so much about appearances.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:28 am


But, Van S, what we wear does matter; it is a form of expression, of our values and the like.
Think of St Francis and now this Shane fella who is coming up with a new Franciscan gear, or of priests and pastors, or the Amish and Mennonites — I’m not so sure we shouldn’t take this seriously.



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Anonymous

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:32 am


SmartChristian.com » Blog Archive »

February 28, 2006
Could it already be the day after the penultimate day of the next-to-first month of the VI (or is it the VII?) year of the fifth post-Mosaic millenium? I’ve been waiting for this day ever since the waters receded from…—–
[...] [...]



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rick

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:51 am


Too bad Brad and Angela weren’t there so we could get an update on their lives. Do you think Nick and Jessie will get back together? Speaking of Jessica Simpson, I wonder if her dad Joe would be in the “conversation” had he not prostituted his daughters for millions?
I was just being silly. Kind of mocking the celebrity status of the emerging heroes. Kind of reminds me of when “Rick Warren speaks people listen” from 15 years ago.:)
Being from California, shorts and flip-flops are pretty common. My best friend eventually became a Christian only because my church was a place were folks could wear shorts and drink coffee. Amazing what attracts folks.
This was a funny post. Thanks!
Just remember, as soon as one wears it because it is COOL, it ceases to be cool. :)



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Jamie Arpin-Ricci

posted February 26, 2006 at 11:09 am


Excellent and entertaining post, Scot. My wife thinks I need a makeover, as I am addicted to monochromatic use of earth tones. I wonder what that reflects about me?
Peace,
Jamie



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jason

posted February 26, 2006 at 11:51 am


okay, i’m a vineyard pastor so i think we all know that my church dresses down to a fault (seriously, i sometimes have to coach people NOT to judge folks who come to church in a suit). so, we’re rather free.
however, 5 minutes ago i noticed a young girl (16ish) who was wearing the ever-popular low rise jeans with the g-string underwear conspicuously visible well above the top of her pants.
let’s not just pick on the girls. we have plenty of teenage boys who commonly wear their jean precariously perched about mid-thigh, their boxer shorts completely exposed, and no belt, meaning their walking gate is necessrily truncated in order to maintain the tension required to keep their pants from falling to the ground. seriously, it’s so comical i laugh outloud every time.
what do you guys do with this? is that appropriate?



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John Frye

posted February 26, 2006 at 12:44 pm


Clothes are an extension of our skin. So, emergent folk like Tony, Doug and Dan Kimball have a variety of skin types—no homogeneity for them. Scot and LaRon have sadly it appears succumbed to the homogenizing values of middle class culture. I did think that Scot looked well-attired and I did notice his leather belt (an animal had to die for that) and his amazing fountain pen…an AMAZING fountain pen. Yet, it does appear the blue jeans of some sort are the “bridge” attire connecting both evangelicals and emergents because both were sporting these denim duds. Yet, evangelicals wear jeans with Oxford shirts and emergents wear them with T-shirts covered over by a plethora of outer things. The Emergent attire award goes to Dan Kimball. The Evangelical attire award goes to Ann Graham Lott. Even more, I felt guilty using a bic around Scot. I almost fell at his feet and said, “If thou art willingest, thou canst offereth me a fountain pen.” He reacheth out and touchest me and saith, “Get your own.” (Just kidding). I also noticed a dramatic difference in some of the dietary and somewhat scrupulous habits of emergents as compared to evangelicals. I was so impressed how modernisn and postmodernism filters down to such commonplace things as plants and liquids and their use by humans for simple pleasures.



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Alan Hartung

posted February 26, 2006 at 3:15 pm


I remember the first girl I dated from California almost nine years ago now…
One of the first things she did was untuck my shirt. I looked in the mirror, and I was like, “Are you kidding me?” Over time, I grew to understand the style :D
What you saw in the mirror, shirt untucked and not looking right, is not what other people will see when they see you shirt untucked.
So step out and conform dangit! Be like the rest of the emerging church and have some style man!



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tatiana

posted February 26, 2006 at 3:27 pm


As a former fashion student, I have thought a LOT about clothes. And yes, I would say they are important – but not as important as we can sometimes them. I do think we send messages with what we wear, sometimes without even realizing it. It’s too bad there aren’t any fashion design programs that teach classes on “fashion philosophy”. That would be a breath of fresh air (as opposed to lots and lots of indoctrination about marketing and selling, blech).
I will add that I am a bit frustrated thinking of all these high and mighty emerging leaders. Not a single one you mentioned was a woman. Or maybe that’s just because we are less likely to fit into some mold of what it looks like to be “emerging”?
“This Shane fella”? Oy… sometimes I wonder if Shane gets as much attention as he does simply because of the way he dresses. I suppose that is not such a bad thing. He has sought to literally clothe himself in love, rejecting the economic and social order that is perpetuated by the global clothing industry. Which is… far more respectable than whatever level of hipster-ness all these emergent people have reached.



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chad

posted February 26, 2006 at 3:43 pm


what is the “moral influence” theory of atonement? it sounds great, but i don’t know that i’ve heard of it…



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Scot McKnight

posted February 26, 2006 at 4:10 pm


Chad,
The moral influence theory is that Jesus’ act of sacrifice sets the example of how to live a life of sacrifice; it generates similar sacrifice in us as we think of his life; and it makes it clear that the atonement does not change God’s mind toward sinners, but sinners’ mind toward God. There are a few versions of it.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 26, 2006 at 4:11 pm


Tatiana, Oy yourself … I thought you were a big fan of Shane.



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Van S

posted February 26, 2006 at 6:46 pm


Scot,
I agree that the way we dress does indeed matter. The point I was trying to make doesn’t negate that. I wasn’t saying that the way we dress is insignificant…but I think it should flow out of one’s cultural context. I guess the thing I am trying to say is that our dress should express something of who we are, rather than be something we don in some attempt to be trendy.
A question that gets to the heart of what I’m saying is: Does the way we dress express who we are (as embedded within a cultural context) or who we are trying to engage. Obviously, these aren’t mutually exclusive. But many folks take up a certain appearance that doesn’t reflect their own values and context, and because they are dressed in a way incongruous with their own values and context, it seems odd and unauthentic.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 26, 2006 at 6:51 pm


Van,
I think I agree with you on everything you say. There’s a lot of fun in this post.



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Van S

posted February 26, 2006 at 6:58 pm


The problem I have with fashion trends is that I’m a pretty barrel-chested guy. I can’t wear a lot of the cool fashions that slimmer guys have, because there isn’t as much available in my size (unless I want to pay extra). :)



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Scot McKnight

posted February 26, 2006 at 7:10 pm


Van S,
My barrel is a little lower than the chest, and that just might explain why I wear a belt and keep my shirt tucked in, lest something be seen.



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Dan

posted February 26, 2006 at 9:27 pm


Of course, all of this only furthers my suspicion that being emergent is more about being fashionable than it is about being Christian. I’ve often wondered if so many people are drawn to the emergent because it allows a person to be both Christian and “cool”. All these twenty-somethings that grew up in churches deeply afraid of being “losers” now have something to rally around.
[Punk rockers wore Docs to identify with the working class (which, by the way, is the same reason why skinheads wear them). But, then again, punk rock died years ago.]
Peace,
Dan



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Scot McKnight

posted February 26, 2006 at 9:32 pm


Dan,
You’re too young to know how many dress trends have come and gone. Do you know what a leisure suit is (or was)? Very popular at one time. I had a green one that looked like a Christmas tree.



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dan

posted February 26, 2006 at 9:46 pm


LOL… what a kick!!! What can one say to all this? It’s great… however, i love wearing a great tie now and then which means a button down shirt of course… and the whole colored t-shirt… well, when i did blue collar work (everything i did to make a living form pre-teen to my mid 40′s was blue collar work… i guess as a pastor I’m white collar now though i always keep a white shirt in my wardrobe even though i have to buy a new one every few years either because they yellow from disuse or when I do put the thing on the collar seems to have shrunk!) Anyway, we wore those colored t-shirts in the heat of summer for comfort and to hide both the dirt and underarm stains :-0 and we wore them under our flannel or denim shirts in the winter because…. well… their work shirts!!!! and now they are the height of fashion! Marvelous… simply marvelous.
now i wear them just because that’s what i got used to … I’ll even wear them under my polo’s or with an open denim shirt (is denim part of the emergent movement or is that passe now?)
Question: I was under the impression that emergent was evangelical (at least the literature i read seems evangelical). And what are emergents emerging from?
Back to fashion: like you Scot, all my white t-shirts are v neck’s but perhaps i need to reconsider :-@
Here’s a justice issue I find in this whole fasion thing- it’s what it ends up costing the the hourly wage earner. When the working clothes of the blue collar worker becomes the latest fashion it seems to drive the cost of the working wardrobe up as the marketing gurus mentioned by Tatiana above… cash in on the raging fashion scene. (I beleive Jeremy Rifkin talks about the quick turn around of fashion marketing in his “The Age of Access”). I hate it when my work clothes become more expensive then my Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes!!!!!
Of course, when work-a-day clothes become Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes, then by all means they should cost us a little more since we always want to wear our best when we gather together to worship our glorious Lord. ;-)



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jbub

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:06 pm


Dan,
You gotta be kiddin’ me! It seems to me that you are seeing what you are looking for. And I would guess that you will see what your are looking for *anywhere* you look. Spend time reading about, talking with, and engaging emerging church types. Do it from as an objective position as possible. (I know, being completely objective is impossible for anyone, but we should still try to do so…) I think you will certainly find a few data points that confirm your suspicions. But you will be overwhelmed by the voluminous number of examples that explode your presuppositions….
jbub



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Van S

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:07 pm


dan,
Emerging folk come from all Christian traditions, but especially Protestantism. Most come out of evangelicalism, but the movement is increasingly diverse. At our last cohort meeting (www.twincitiesemergent.org), we had Anglicans, Lutherans, Baptists, a Pentecostal and a Seventh Day Adventist present.
In addition to the question “what are emergents emerging from”, one should ask “what are emergents emerging INTO?” They are emerging into a post-Christian West that is increasingly pluralistic, postmodern, and consumeristic (www.consumer-culture.org).



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Van S

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:15 pm


Fashion seems to be pretty fluid and diverse these days…when I was a child, it seems that what constituted “cool” fashion was relatively homogenous. These days, there is a great deal of diversity. What Scot seems to be describing is the more preppy style these days.
Dan (capital “D” Dan, not “dan”:
I think you’re a bit off the mark on this one. Emerging folk DO care more about style than some folk, but this is largely because we realize that the medium cannot be seperated from the message. The packaging of the church communicates something, and cannot be seperated from its beliefs. The sense of “cool” emerging folk seem to generate may come from 1) their general youthfulness and 2) their desire to be conversant with culture.
Who says Punk is dead?



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Scot McKnight

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:22 pm


Van S,
Are you suggesting that I’m “preppy”? Should I start slinging my lightweight jacket over my shoulder and get some boat shoes?
My style is called “Middle-aged Professor, casual.”



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Van S

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:30 pm


Actually, I was calling Doug and Tony and Ryan “preppy” :)
I think your self description is good: “Middle aged, Preffesor, casual.”
I had the pleasure of studying with LeRon at Bethel (he’s actually moving to Norway after the end of this school year). I’d call his style “postmodern poindexter” :)
I’d call my own sense of style “chubby chic”



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Scot McKnight

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:33 pm


Van S,
Great observations — I don’t know what you mean by “postmodern poindexter” but it fits.
I’ll be Doug doesn’t call his style preppy — prep school?
Now help me: What is “grunge”?



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dan

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:35 pm


OK, OK, I’m thoroughly mortified… I’m all for emergent… I’m all for being conversant…. I’m all for how the Spirit won’t ever allow the Church to become anything less then what the Father desires for his Son. I’m a friend here… based on what I’ve read, seen, conversed… I’ve been part of this movement from way back. My point is… is that this is a movement that has been afoot since the beginning… and I’m overjoyed with all that is happening… but it is still a movement of God in and among humans of a particular time in His Story… God bless his church… whatever label we put on ourselves…. :-)



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Van S

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:39 pm


Grunge…grunge came of age when I was in high school (early 90s) out of Seattle and the “alternative” music movement. “Alternative” music came from among middle class suburban youth who were influenced by punk. In order to demonstrate the meaninglessness and absurdity of their existance, they wore poorly fitting thrift store clothing. I had lots of friends who didn’t bathe regularly either. It was all a part of Gen X rebellion of the consumer culture. THe funny thing was, it all became commodified and trendy.
Ahhh…the early 90s…those days of Gen X. Churches started noting the “Gen Xers” and started focusing on reaching them. Some folks started churches to minister specificially to Gen X. Some of them, like Doug, began to realize that there was more happinging than a generational shift–a shift into a postmodern orientation.



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Van S

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:41 pm


Are “dan” and “Dan” the same guy? I’m feeling a bit confused.
For the record…I do think there is a bit of an over-emphasis on style among some folks in the emerging church. That is what makes this whole post so funny.



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dan

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:43 pm


VanS, I see your point… and i have no problem per se with “1) their general youthfulness and 2) their desire to be conversant with culture.” I just remember our reaction to those who tried to ‘fit’ in with us (during our emergent days) and how it seemed inauthentic at times…
I hope I’m hearing a little laughter here… or maybe I’m misreading the original post.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:44 pm


I’m hearing it, Dan.



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Van S

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:47 pm


Totally get where you’re coming from dan. I knew a woefully out of touch youth pastor once who tried DESPERATELY to be relevant. He was in his 40s and tried to dress like an 18 year old. It wouldn’t have been so bad, except his “transformation” into hip-ness happend suddenly and without warning. It just felt uncomfortable to be around him. It would have been so much better for him to be himself. Authenticity is worth a lot more than relevance in my book.



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danB

posted February 26, 2006 at 10:54 pm


hmmmmmmmmm… having 2 dan’s is a bit confusing…. i’m the lower case ‘dan’ and will switch to danB to help clear up the confusion.



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danB

posted February 26, 2006 at 11:07 pm


Hey, Scot, the church i’m ‘interiming’ at just hierd a recent former student of yours. We just starting reading “The Jesus Creed” for staff devotions and he brought his copy from one of your classes… admitting he didn’t acutually read it during that class semester!



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danB

posted February 26, 2006 at 11:09 pm


VanS, my oldest son who is a member of that gen’x still doesn’t take baths very often… :-0



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Scot McKnight

posted February 26, 2006 at 11:10 pm


danB,
Name?



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danB

posted February 26, 2006 at 11:12 pm


David Ivan



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Scot McKnight

posted February 26, 2006 at 11:16 pm


He read more than he’s letting on.



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danB

posted February 26, 2006 at 11:20 pm


I’m sure he did… he has ben on board for a week now and already i’m enjoying the added energy.
The theologian i mentioned in the Brennan Manning post is Robert W. Jenson and at least as of ’99 he is the Senior Scholar for Research at the Center of Theological Inquiry at Princeton University.



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Scot McKnight

posted February 26, 2006 at 11:23 pm


danB,
I’ve read some of him.
David has lots of potential.



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danB

posted February 26, 2006 at 11:33 pm


Well, fellow bloggers, i must be on my way… i need to pick out me wardrobe for tomorrow… WAIT! it’s my day off, i can dress any way I please! YAHOOOOOOOO!!!!



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Dan

posted February 26, 2006 at 11:39 pm


Okay… this is confusing having two D/dans. Let me respond to the two comments that were explicitly addressed to me.
Dr. McKnight,
Yes, I am well aware of what a leisure suit is/was. I don’t suppose you have any pictures of yourself in said Christmas tree suit? That would make for a delightful post! I’m not sure what my age has to do with my awareness of fashion through the ages (or in the 20th century more specifically). Were I to pick a trend that I think “most fashionable” I would pick the zoot suit. A red pinstripe, fedora, spats, cuff links, 3/4 length jacket, and a long watch chain. That, my friends, is style.
Van S.,
I find your comments to be somewhat intriguing. I wholeheartedly agree with McLuhan that “the medium is the message” but I do not think that leads to a notion of Christians dressing (or acting, or talking, or whatever) in a way that is “conversant” with culture. I think the notions of global responsibility, reconciliation, and simplicity should dictate the way we dress — not a desire to be “conversant” with a mainstream culture that dresses in a way that completely disregards those things. Thus, by dressing in a “conversant” manner Christians tend to espouse certain values of mainstream culture that are antithetical to Christianity. Therefore, Christians should dress counter-culturally. Of course, I don’t mean that everybody should sport berets, and dress like Bohemians, but I do mean that we should think about how much clothes we own, where we have bought our clothes, and how much the clothes we wear are worn out of vanity, or the desire to be a unique (and stylish) individual. I’ve struggled with this issue for a long time and decided to just stop buying clothes 4 or 5 years ago.
[Oh, and punk rock is dead. Sadly, there wasn't a solid enough foundation for punk rock to create a genuine alternative to mainstream culture (cf. "The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can't be Jammed" by Heath and Potter). Granted there are still bands like "Propagandhi" that are trying to stay true to punk rock roots, but punk rock has suffered a series have small deaths that have caused punk rock, as a movement, to die. Punk rock has been marketed and has gone the same road as most counter-cultural music scenes -- like hip-hop or jazz and (to a lesser degree) folk music.]
Peace,
Dan



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Van S

posted February 26, 2006 at 11:56 pm


Dan,
I’m not saying that it is necessarily good for emergening folk to dress fashionably. However, dressing “cool” DOES communicate a value for some folks. And that is that church should emerge out of a context, and be relevant to that context. I agree with you. I think Christians should dress simply and inexpensively.
I’ve read “The Rebel Sell”–I tend to agree that Punk is, for the most part, dead. Though I see some pockets of punk culture still alive.



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Daniel

posted February 27, 2006 at 12:03 am


Wouldn’t an emergent wear the kind of dress that their target audience (for lack of a better name) is wearing?



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Scot McKnight

posted February 27, 2006 at 12:05 am


Daniel,
I can’t speak for them, but my suspicion is that how they dress has much less to do with a strategy to reach others than being who they are.



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Scott M

posted February 27, 2006 at 12:14 am


Hmmm. I found the post funny and the comments since somewhat bemusing. Of course, I’m sort of on the boundary with this as with many things. I’m forty, but one of the comparatively fewer with early boomer parents who embraced much of that experience, especially in the seventies (including a Dad who had been drafted into Vietnam). So I’m not just leading edge GenX age-wise, but also postmodern culturally. I did not particularly grow up with any defined Christian experience, though broad-ranging spirituality and exploration was a normal part of my family experience.
As pretty thoroughly punk and new wave in the 80′s, I never acquired the habit or style preference of tucking shirts in (even button-up shirts). I tend to wear faded, ratted jeans that got that way naturally or shorts of different sorts (jean or the khaki sort with pockets). Sandals or tennis shoes tend to be my footwear. Sorta Austin programmer chic. ;-)
When my journey brought me into a suburban, evangelical church in the early nineties, I went through a number of years trying to figure out what to wear. I did the slacks, buttoned shirt (conservative and tucked in), and dress shoes thing. Tried ties a few times. Tried polo style shirts and slacks. A variety of things. And while I guess I blended in with those things, I always felt like I was wearing a costume. It was simply another layer of the mask I sensed all those around me wearing. And I finally got tired of it and just started coming dressed as me. (But the normal ‘me’, not the ‘me’ in what I would consider ‘dressy’ clothes. Even today, when I think of my ‘best’ clothes, my mind tends to settle on the things I wore for the 80′s new wave club culture. That’s how I looked when I ‘dressed up’.) I guess it could seem irreverent to some, but it’s not. I’m just trying to relax and worship God as me rather than hiding behind some plastic charade.
I started helping with the youth a couple of years ago. In some ways it’s kinda interesting that my typical style has a lot in common with their style. But that’s happenstance, not contrived. Yes, fashion matters. But it needs to reflect who you really are or it becomes a masquerade rather than anything real or meaningful.



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danB

posted February 27, 2006 at 12:30 am


This conversation about appearance reminds me of something i read recently. There is an idea in Christianity of the ‘invisable church.’ The conversation here is a huge reminder of just how visible the church is… now the quote, “The church is not an invisible entity; she is the, if anything, all to visible gathering of sinners around the loaf and cup. What is invisible is that this visible entity is in fact what she claims to be, the people of God.” Robert W. Jenson, Systematic Theology, Vol. 2, The Works of God, p.174



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Dana Ames

posted February 27, 2006 at 2:24 am


Scot,
about the colored T-shirt thing: Those are the ones worn like you wear your Oxfords- a shirt that’s meant to be seen, rather than be underclothing that keeps one warm in the Illinois winters. So colors are good.
(Except for when he’s performing, my son’s daily uniform is a T-shirt and loose jeans. I’ve dropped a couple of hints about transitioning to a wardrobe that’s a bit more tailored. He’s thinking about it. I would gladly pay for it!)
In spite of the middle-aged professorial garb, LeRon fit right in the “Emergent fashion sense” with his shorn head… I can see you musing in front of the mirror about whether to wear your shirt in or out, but not contemplating taking the razor to your caput!
It was a pilgrimage for me, and worthwhile in every aspect.
Dana



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Ted Gossard,

posted February 27, 2006 at 2:34 am


I like to wear blue jeans to church on Sunday morning. But not just those. Last thing is a suit and tie. I just don’t wear that.
If speaking or teaching in a church with a kind of strict dress code I conform. But my wardrobe is lacking in high falutin (sp?) dress because I simply don’t “dress up”.



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Ted Gossard,

posted February 27, 2006 at 2:44 am


My last comment leads to this. At work we’ve had some disagreements over how one should dress in “church”. I say dress comfortably, come as you are. The other side (most on our team) say it is better to “dress up” in a suit and tie (and polished shoes, I suppose).
They use this analogy. What if President George W. Bush (now they wouldn’t have used this analogy for President Clinton) was coming, and you were going to meet him? Of course you’d dress up out of honor and respect (they say). How much more should we dress up for the King of kings and Lord of lords? they argue.
That for me holds no water. I’d dress the same as I do when gathering as church. I do try to wear nice looking jeans and shirts. I try to look alright.
I guess I’m making a statement, but maybe just being more who I am. And maybe that’s the statement. And maybe it’s an invitation to others to just be who they are. I’m not sure. But I’d want it to be that. (As for Pres. Bush, I think he’d like blue jeans, he seems to be a blue jeans kind of guy, though I’m not really on board with him politically in some important ways- I do like that about him).



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Tim Jeffries

posted February 27, 2006 at 6:45 am


I couldn’t be bothered reading all the comments but wanted to make sure you know you are a legend Scot. Seriously, if you started wearing jeans, flip flops and shirts not tucked in it’d ruin your image. Keep it all and do it with style buddy!



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tony jones

posted February 27, 2006 at 6:47 am


Scot,
The biggest bummer for me about the untucked shirt bit that’s all the craze right now is that it keeps me from showcasing my sweet leather belts, which are handmade at Ibiz leather store in Rome, Italy.
What price, fashion?



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Mark Eberly

posted February 27, 2006 at 11:27 am


I tried the flip flops one Sunday but as I was shoveling the walk, the strange burning sensation and blue color in my toes convinced me that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.
also, I guess if you really want to be emergent you should do away with pens altogether go electronic. But then I use more electricity charging my pocket pc and I wonder which is more environmentality sound? Empty ink pens, empty pen refills, or electric batter recharges?
Maybe we should all do away with clothes and get back to the bible and our b-day suits. Then again, human nature tells me that we might start to compare other things instead of clothing. AFTERTHOUGHT: let’s not go there.
Mark Eberly



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Rick

posted February 27, 2006 at 12:33 pm


I think a necessary component is RELATED to the ‘visible belt’ idea is that of the untucked shirt.
I cannot stand to have my shirt tucked in…in constantly bugs me that it is twisting and turning and never achieves the ‘quite right’-ness that I would want.
Maybe just a super-hero style single piece of form-fitting spandex would do all of us a world of good?



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Becky

posted February 27, 2006 at 5:11 pm


I think we are called to love each other well enough that to dress to have someone else feel comfortable shouldn’t be an issue – whether it’s too dress up or dress down. God help us when how we dress becomes a divider, whether it’s those who dress up for church, or those who don’t. Is it in Corinthians Paul points out those who say “I follow Apollo; I follow so and so.” And those were to bring about self importance. God help us if we put our pride in whether we dress up or react against those who do dress up, to not dress up, thinking we have it together more if we don’t dress up.
Personally, I go to a house church, have for 28 yrs. Until recently, I was always cold in the winter, so it was no big deal that I showed up in my clothes to keep me warm and my sheepskin slippers to keep my toes warm. We should be able to love enough that what we wear or don’t wear is of no importance. That goes for those who look down on those who do dress up for church.



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John

posted February 27, 2006 at 6:26 pm


Since so much theology defines redemption/renewal as getting back to Paradise (before sin), what does this imply about REAL Christian clothing? Isn’t wearing clothes a blatant and continuing symbol of our fallenness?



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danB

posted February 27, 2006 at 6:42 pm


hehehehe… I just can’t resist one more comment… admittedly my church experience is limited in that i’ve attended maybe 30 but certainly not more then 50 congregations over the years… and since the late 60′s i haven’t seen any consistant or enforced (formally or informally) dress code in any of them. Some of these were 100+ year old congrgations (NO… no one in the 100+ churches were actually 100+ themselves (except in my courrent congrgation I have one member that is 104!!!)) and others were church plants geared toward the ‘youth’ or alternative cultures and the rest somewhere between. In all these all manner of dress could be found… with i must admit much of the same conversation coming to my ears… hehehehe….



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Joel Richardson

posted February 27, 2006 at 6:58 pm


>>>Joel, Are you suggesting the previous attire, what I feel comfortable in, was not a part of a previous culture?



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Joel Richardson

posted February 27, 2006 at 7:03 pm


No. Just saying that >>concern



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arthur

posted February 27, 2006 at 7:25 pm


do any of you remember when “flip flops” used to be called “beach walkers”? talk about cultural shifts!!!!



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Scot McKnight

posted February 27, 2006 at 9:03 pm


Arthur,
I called them slippers.



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arthur

posted February 27, 2006 at 9:48 pm


ah, well, here again is the working culture… we called them beach wakers becasue our parents bought them for us when we went to the beaches of So Cal to keep our feet from burning in the sand :-)



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Greg Mc

posted February 27, 2006 at 9:57 pm


I wonder we were invited to meet the Queen of England if we would be quite so flip-(flop)-ant about what we wore to meet her. I suspect, we would dress in a way that was respectful, (as opposed to what we were most comfortable wearing). So the question I have is this; Should we be more or less respectful in our dress, when meeting with the King of Kings, or an earthly Monarch? What does this say about our approach to God? I realize this post was a light hearted observation but if we are so interested in integrating every aspect of life into worship then perhaps this casual approach to God ends up saying more about us than we would be “comfortable” with?



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Van S

posted February 27, 2006 at 10:14 pm


Greg Mc…your question presupposes that our encounter with God in a church service is more holy than our other encounters with God. Do you dress up for your devotional times?



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danB

posted February 27, 2006 at 10:55 pm


come on now… lighten up a little… now on meeting Queens and Presidents… at a baccalaureate way back in the 70′ one of the ministers talked about how we’d all stand up to honor such dignitaries as Queens and Presidents if one of them walked in the auditorium and if Jesus walked in…. WE’D ALL FALL DOWN ON OUR FACES in homage. The auditorium got pretty quite and the principle was told never to invite our Southern Baptist brother to participate again! BTW, he left out any mention of running home to change clothes… hmmmm
Then there is Zechariah’s vision of Joshua the High Priest dressed in is priestly robes- the best clothes in Israel… and when Zechariah saw the vision of Joshua in the throne room of heaven… well those wonderful robes looked like RAGS!!!! Well, look it up, it’s a great story and kind of puts this whole clothes thing in perspective… or not! ;-)



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Patrick

posted February 27, 2006 at 11:46 pm


Hmmm, I’m really confused now. I wear a suit and tie all week to court, but on the weekends (including church) I like to wear khakis and a loose fitting Hawaiian shirt, not tucked in. Very comfy, and fits my laid-back, sailor persona. Although I guess that puts me in the Rick Warren camp?? I’m not even sure I’m Emergent – I’m on board with the critiques of Brian McLaren and some of the other thinkers in this movement, but I still go to a mainline denomination and I’m over 40. Does that disqualify me? (I mean, besides my clothes . . .)
This whole discussion reminds of of the wonderful story of Gandhi, wearing nothing but his dhoti (loincloth) and sandals), attending a tea party with the King of England who was arrayed in all of his finery. When asked by a journalist if he didn’t feel ashamed dressed so scantily in the presence of royalty, he replied: “Why should I feel ashamed? The King had enough on for both of us.”



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Greg Mc

posted February 28, 2006 at 2:38 am


Van; Of course God would rather that we should rend our hearts and not our garments but what we do (including how we dress) is an outward reflection of our inward spirit. When I was younger, I, (and everyone I hung around with) had very long hair. We were stickin it to THE MAN. I actually got a job once by tucking my hair up under my hat, (ala the Five Man Electrical Band) only to hear one of the bosses curse me out saying “who the —- hired that long haired—- —” So I am not threatened or particularly impressed by green hair, piercings, tattoos or even rainbow flip flops. My long hair was a reflection of a fallen and rebellious inner spirit. Is it any different with the youth today? I doubt it. I’m just not sure the message we convey isn’t one of irreverence and rebellion as opposed to grace.



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Limber UP

posted February 28, 2006 at 8:35 am


“Oh, and punk rock is dead. Sadly, there wasn’t a solid enough foundation for punk rock to create a genuine alternative to mainstream culture (cf. “The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can’t be Jammed” by Heath and Potter). Granted there are still bands like “Propagandhi” that are trying to stay true to punk rock roots, but punk rock has suffered a series have small deaths that have caused punk rock, as a movement, to die. Punk rock has been marketed and has gone the same road as most counter-cultural music scenes — like hip-hop or jazz and (to a lesser degree) folk music.”
Dan,
Isn’t it truer to say that punk rock, like earlier expressions of counter-culture (in music and elsewhere) didn’t die, but gradually morphed into something different… but equally worthwhile?
By way of analogy, the folk and blues influenced music of hippies like The Incredible String Band and late 60s blues revivalists (Canned Heat, Ten Years After, Fleetwood Mac etc) led to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath – in turn paving the way for prog and 80s heavy metal.
So with punk rock. It began with Iggy Pop, the Velvet Underground and the MC5 in the late 60s. Its popular flowering was in the mid- to late-70s in New York and London: Patti Smith, Clash, Hell, Pistols and co. Its rebel, avant garde, DIY ethos lived on in the underground / small label music of the 80s and beyond: in Californian hardcore bands like Husker Du and Black Flag; in more arty “post-punk” like Sonic Youth and The Fall.
In the early 90s, with Nirvana, The Pixies and others, the “alternative rock” sound was adopted by the big labels and became the mainstream. But in due course the same musical lineage spawned “post-rock” (like Mogwai and co) – and this is once again the preserve of minor labels.
So I guess you COULD say that punk died, inasmuch as it was at one stage co-opted by corporate interests (perhaps your point); but I would prefer to see it as a process of musical and cultural evolution, with many an interesting and worthwhile side-alley. Yo La Tengo, Slint, and the current wave of “post-rock” could never have happened without the work of Iggy Pop, John Cale and Lou Reed – who are constantly referenced by such artists.



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Becky

posted February 28, 2006 at 4:21 pm


We called flip flops, thongs. Talk about cultural shift ! lol !
Greg, what we wear to honor God, is not something that can be backed up biblically. It’s not that it’s unbiblical or biblical, it’s just not mentioned. I’m not going to add it as an additional rule, like drinking, dancing. I still think there is an issue that I be able to love enough that what I wear or don’t wear is a moot point – if dressing up helps another person, I’d do it. If dressing down helps, I’ll do it. I think I should be able to love enough that what is worn or not worn isn’t an issue.



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Evers

posted February 28, 2006 at 11:38 pm


Guys,
You’re all (or most of y’all are) missing the most important point:
Fountain pens!
Yes, I have the requisite PowerBook (12″) and PDA. Yes, e-mail is my main mode of communication. But as a young 30-something, a Moleskine journal and an extra-fine nibbed fountain pen is a hard combination to beat. The “larger” size Moleskine is my devotional journal, a smaller size Moleskine is my general-purpose notebook. Fits nicely in a sportcoat (or cargo pants) pocket.
(Pens of choice: Sailor Magellan, fine nib, but it’s Japanese so that’s like an extra-fine; Rotring 600 series, extra-fine nib. The Sailor is filled right now with the convertor and Waterman Florida Blue ink; the Rotring has a cartridge of Levenger Raven Black.)
(As for attire, I’m eclectic. One day, it’ll be cargo pants and a nice oxford; the next day, sportcoat and tie; on Sunday, it could be a clerical collar with cufflinks.)
Funny conversation. Enjoyed reading it!
Pax vobiscum,
Evers



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arthur

posted March 1, 2006 at 12:48 am


O MY, yes, Becky, i remember some of my friends calling flip flops thongs… now there is a cultural shift!
hehehehe



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Scot McKnight

posted March 1, 2006 at 7:18 am


Evers,
Now we’ve got a problem: I don’t recall seeing any of the Emergent leaders wielding a fountain pen, let alone a Sailor. I’d be happy to see them brandishing a Schaeffer.



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Greg Mc

posted March 1, 2006 at 12:41 pm


Becky I really am not that hung up on dress but…. I disagree with you when you say “what we wear to honor God, is not something that can be backed up biblically.” 1 Cor 11: Talks about men and women either covering or not covering their heads as a general principal appealing back to the Creation order. In fact the point is that we (men and women) are not to convey a rebellious spirit by the things we wear. There is no explicit “thou shall not wear rainbow flip flops” but there are general principals that apply to everything we do in worship including how we dress. Another passage that comes to mind is 1 Tim 2:9 which calls for women to dress modestly and discreetly. I think this is for the sake of their weaker brothers, but it still applies; does it not?



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Becky

posted March 2, 2006 at 5:43 am


Hi Greg, glad to get a response. You write : “In fact the point is that we (men and women) are not to convey a rebellious spirit by the things we wear.” I would say we live out non rebellion by willingness to dress up if that is what pleases others, or dress down if that is to please others. I think if we make a specific dress code being an honor to God, that is what pants and shirt and perhaps sportjacket or tie, or dress, or nice slacks for women with hose and dress slack shoes, I’m not sure that gets to the core spirit, but can merely be conformity to an external rule. I think the further thing to go on that concept is we are less rebellious and perhaps honor God when we are able to put down what we think are ‘oughts’ for love of another.
I’m not sure the verses you bring out say the conclusions you come to with them. If I hear you, I think it would be hard to take those verses and then say it means we ought to dress up cuz that honors God. I’m not sure dressing up for church is equivalent to what was being meant by the head covering stuff. If we say it harks back to the creation order, the epistles take that further saying there is to be mutual submission. And when I submit out of love for another, those parts of christianity that are not central to the whole gospel message, can be put aside to accomodate another person.
Something in me just senses we miss the mark if emphasis is put on what actual clothes are worn, outward things.
The other part is that honoring God is 24 hrs a day, and I don’t see how this dress code can be enforced as a 24 hr a day. When I’m in my home, lounging in my pjs at night, relaxing for bed, are we to examine that as honoring God or not ? And then I get to thinking it just gets silly – we then have to make up rules of what clothes and when are honoring God.
I think the verses you use there were for that culture. I think we can gleam the intent behind it. But was it about the culture at that time that women covering their hair would show honor, and what would that be today ? Can we recognize God is God and I am not, regardless of what clothes we have on, if any, depending on the moment. Or is honoring God dependent on what I am wearing? I think not. I think recognizing God is God and I am not, strikes me at times during the day, not because of what I am wearing. (but He’s going to have to heal these knees before I can go prostrate before him!) (:
I am healing from a major illness, and have weeks where I haven’t the energy or brain energy to participate here, but I will when I can. If it comes up, can you let ppl know I will show my head now and then, when I can? These last 2 weeks have been hard. I have to be on a med for the rest of my life cuz of this illness, and the last couple weeks, figured I was on too high of a dose – I haven’t come that unglued in decades. We are reducing med, now to get to where I can sleep through the night – another effect of too high a dose of this med
I am here, I read, I will be here for a long time I hope, but have not been up to making coherent thoughts lately. (:



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David

posted March 10, 2006 at 6:58 pm


I liked the conversation here. I’m mid 40′s, grew up dressing up for church and then in the 80′s everything became relaxed. In Florida it’s real relaxed (and hot too) so there are lot’s of sandals and no ties. But I’m an Anglican priest too, and we tend to get very ancient looking in robes and crosses and various other things. But I often felt that it put some kind of barrier up between the people and myself as I giving the message. But I also think there is something to what we see visually reminding us that something different is going on in worship.I wanted to accomplish both things. I started wearing my black hi top Chuck Taylors with my black clergy shirt and collar because in my warped mind they sort of married the idea of Ancient and Future (and they were comfortable)the elementary school kids started showing me their hi tops as I was shaking hands after church. Something made a connection, something said to them that they fit in too, church could be cool too. So I just kept them on after I robed up for communion. Then I bought some white ones for Easter and red ones for Pentecost. We meet in a school, our stained glass is on power point, I showed a clip from Bullett (now Steve McQueen was cool)in last weeks message and our hymns are accoustic too. Do we qualify as emergent?



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