Friday, January 04, 2008

Do we sleep in our Clericals?

While attending seminary at Concordia - Fort Wayne, I learned about our school's "high church" reputation - which gave rise to a lot of silly stereotypes. One of them is that we sleep in our "clericals" (black shirts with white collars).

On one occasion, we had some fellow seminarians from our sister seminary in St. Louis visiting us at Fort Wayne. One of them was sincerely stunned to see seminarians who were not wearing collars. He was very pleasantly surprised to see this stereotype was not true. Of course, I was wearing my clericals during his visit, and was puzzled why he thought clericals were a bad thing.

The clerical collar is the pastor's best "evangelism tool." When I walk around my neighborhood, everybody knows that I am one of Jesus's Guys. If they want prayer, if the have a question regarding the faith, if they need spiritual care - they know exactly where to go. I get stopped at the gas station, at the grocery store, at restaurants, at the airport - anywhere I may be found in clerical attire - and they know I am a Christian clergyman.

They also know that I am some kind of priest. There is a sense of gravitas associated with the clerical uniform. They know I'm not a televangelist, nor a screaming stereotype of an entertainment-style preacher. I don't preside over a coffee-shop "church," but rather I'm the type who hears confessions and gives Last Rites. They would not know this if I were in "mufti" or wearing a trendy golf shirt with the Corporate Logo of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod and the Ablaze!(tm) trademark on the front pocket.

By virtue of the public nature of clerical attire, they also know I'm not ashamed of Jesus, nor of the Gospel, nor of the vocation I - unworthy as I am - hold. If they encounter me near my home and church, I can let them know where I serve and when our services are. And if an emergency happens, I can generally pass through hospitals, and can have access with police, military, and other emergency personnel.

Do we sleep in our clericals? Not usually, but I did on Christmas day. After five sermons in five days (four Masses, one funeral, as well as several hospital and shut-in calls, as well as a death-bed visit), I was pretty tired come Christmas. After Christmas morning Divine Service, the Hollywood family visited with a neighbor (who is not a parishioner of mine) for Christmas lunch, after which, we went home.

After assisting Lion Boy with the opening of presents, I flopped into bed - still clad in my clerical attire. I awoke after three hours. Furthermore, I was not wearing the "tab" collar, but rather the very constraining Anglican "dog collar." But I slept like a baby.

I guess some stereotypes are true after all!

Anyway, some of Fr. Hollywood's readers might enjoy a satirical blog out there called "Priestmanship". Here is a post regarding clerical dress.

And, no, I do not write this blog. I have nothing to do with it. I have to say that because, for some reason, every time a blog associated with Lutheranism that is satirical or is some kind parody appears, I'm accused of being the author. I think I may know who the Priestman is, but my lips are sealed. But it isn't me, so stop the gossip right now!

I would point out, however, that the typical rules regarding clerical attire don't apply in New Orleans. First of all, we are Southerners - with all the baggage that carries. Secondly, we are Louisianans - in the francophone "biretta belt" of the South. Third, we're New Orleanians. We have to drive many miles north to get the the southernmost point of Mississippi. We live in a city known for a strange and seemingly contradictory mix of traditionalism and individual eccentricity.

It is perfectly acceptable for a Lutheran pastor to walk around the neighborhood (or even ride a bicycle) clad in a Roman cassock with a rope cincture tied around his waist. The response will either be 1) nobody will bat an eye - this is New Orleans, or 2) one will be greeted (in the utterly unique "Yat" accent) with a "How ya doin', fawthuh?"

I would also add that the rope cincture is helpful in New Orleans as a handy aid for twisting off bottle tops.

4 comments:

Brian P Westgate said...

Fr. Beane, do you know that you've been mentioned (not positively) by Rev. Dr. Greg Jackson at his blog? It appears, that like CN, he mocks what he does not and cannot understand.
http://ichabodthegloryhasdeparted.blogspot.com/

Father Hollywood said...

Thanks for the tip. I'm pleasantly surprised to see that Dr. Jackson actually posted my (satirical) reply.

I'm always amazed to learn what the Society of Saint Polycarp is from all of these "heresy-hunting" internet "research" sources. Goodness gracious, I'm the Dean of the Society and didn't know all this stuff! ;-)

BTW, the people listed as Team members on Weedon's "confessions" blog have nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the Society of St. Polycarp. Some of them would probably agree with Jackson and accuse us of crypto-something-or-other-ism.

I hope Dr. Jackson did a more thorough job of research when he got his Ph.D., because he really dropped the ball on this one.

The SSP is in the process of putting up a website and posting our journal online. This has been long overdue, and our lack of attention to this detail has allowed for some ungodly speculation and gossip-mongering about the nature of our brotherhood to run unchecked.

Any queries about, or investigation of, the Society of St. Polycarp may be addressed to me.

Pax!

chaplain7904 said...

Father Hollywood says: The clerical collar is the pastor's best "evangelism tool." When I walk around my neighborhood, everybody knows that I am one of Jesus's Guys. If they want prayer, if the have a question regarding the faith, if they need spiritual care - they know exactly where to go. I get stopped at the gas station, at the grocery store, at restaurants, at the airport - anywhere I may be found in clerical attire - and they know I am a Christian clergyman.

Father Kavouras says: Big ditto.


Father H: They also know that I am some kind of priest. There is a sense of gravitas associated with the clerical uniform.

Father Kavouras says: Ditto. I find people feel honored by our presence. And when they learn we are approachable they have all manner of questions and spiritual needs that they address with us.


FH: By virtue of the public nature of clerical attire, they also know I'm not ashamed of Jesus, nor of the Gospel, nor of the vocation I - unworthy as I am - hold. If they encounter me near my home and church, I can let them know where I serve and when our services are.

Father Kavouras says: Are you inside my head, Father Hollywood? I could have written this.


FH: And if an emergency happens, I can generally pass through hospitals, and can have access with police, military, and other emergency personnel.

Police Chaplain Kavouras says: The collar creates instant trust. It bestows the "privilege of harmlessness" as Herman Melville wrote in his short story "Jimmy Rose" The only thing better than a collar, is a collar and a badge.


FH: Do we sleep in our clericals? Not usually....

FK: Speak for yourself, Bud.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Rev. Chaplain:

You wrote:

FH: Do we sleep in our clericals? Not usually....

FK: Speak for yourself, Bud.

Out of the park! Touche. +HW