Deacon Greg picks up on the seemingly endless discussion on what to wear to church. I’ve never felt particularly insulted by plummeting dress codes in church–I see it all over. When I walk back from the ISU libbrary, I often pass through a hall of honor at the Memorial Union. A sign asks men to remove caps and hats. Men wearing hats inside, shirts not tucked in–those were habits I never seemed to pick up. I don’t understand them, but then again, I never cared much for hats, nor the feel of a belt buckle on my skin.
On the other hand, I never quite connected with the “give honor to God like you would a king or a president” argument. Who chums with royalty on a weekly basis?
I wonder about a number of factors at work here:
- Western culture is shifting from formality in just about every aspect of life. The way people dress at work, at school, in uniform–it’s all heading away from norms of the past decades and centuries. People can pontificate as to why this is happening, but it’s undeniable and not reversing itself anytime soon.
- Climate change. … Just kidding.
- I count my wife’s input on this one. I do notice other women, and I can’t deny the occasional distraction, even in church. But as a man, I take responsibility for my eyes, or for my occasional failure. My wife says I’m generally well-behaved, speaking for the eyes. I know there are times when I consciously focus on a woman’s face if I’m having a conversation. And if I have an opportunity to watch from afar, I figure there’s a lot more to look at. I think the culture promotes men watching women as part of enhancing the corporate profit motive. As far as what some would consider provocative women’s dress in church–it’s not a choice I would make, or approve of my daughter making. But it’s not a choice that’s going to be a bother to me, either.
- Is the loosened dress code for church part of a “low christology” familiarity with God? Isn’t it good people who come to church feel closer to God? They don’t see Mass as an old-fashioned high society function with celebrities.
- Dress codes at wealthy churches seemed to have changed more than they have in poor churches. But they’ve changed all over.
- Is the fuss about dress really about clothing? It’s sort of like the President Jenkins initiative to join the March for Life. If he were really a pro-lifer, he and ND would have been front row with a sign the past forty years. If he were really pro-life he would engineer a South Bend jailbreak for all the anti-Obama protesters. Would people really be happy with polo/golf shirts tucked in and demure tops, or would some be making the case for suit coats, ties, hats/doilies, and hem lines at the ankles? In other words, is it a complaint generated just to complain about something? And if it is, does it imply something more deeply dissatisfying about the Mass that what people wear?