Clergy should not have to wear robes during services because such rules are ‘absurd in the 21st century’, according to a leading theologian.
Garments such as the cassock and surplice are a form of ‘power dressing’ which reinforce class divisions and prevent the wearer getting the Lord’s message across, said the Rev Andrew Atherstone.
In a report titled Clergy Robes and Mission Priorities he called on the Church of England to allow ministers and parishioners to decide what dress code was appropriate.
Hat (aye, well, mmm) tip to Father David MacGregor of Port Elizabeth, who adds, in his own blog Contact Online Weblog: “And when, O when, will we see the last of those absurd hats ?”
Anglican Priest Father David Heron comments: “It is well known that evangelical clergy don’t like wearing clerical robes because they don’t believe in the priesthood, and they like to pretend they’re laymen. Now a raving Protestant says they should be abolished altogether! Crazy”
And I think, crikey, the 21st century? Have we reached it already? What a surprise!
And my mind goes back 40 years to a previous generation who said much the same thing as the Rev. Andrew Atherstone. The only difference was that it was the 20th and not the 21st century, and they weren’t British Evangelicals, but Dutch Roman Catholics.
When I was studying in the UK in 1966-67 I spent the Christmas vac with some Dutch Augustinians in Breda and Nijmegen. And one of the ways in which I thought they were quite kinky was that they held views like those of the Rev (isn’t Rev a bit 19th century?) Andrew Atherstone — that their religious habits were a bit passe in the 20th century, and so they got all up to date by wearing business suits.
A friend of mine from England came and joined me for a week, and remarked that as the Dutch religious were abandoning habits for business suits, just the previous week he’s seen a DJ on a British TV show wearing a monastic habit. These Dutch monastics were so desperately trying to be with it that they were quite without it.
We persuaded one of the Dutch Augustinians to put on his habit specially for a photo.
The previous summer the British satirical magazine Private Eye was advertising T-shirts with “Jesus saves” and “God is Love” printed on them, and John Lennon appeared on the front page of the Daily Mirror wearing one. I ordered a few, and persuaded the Dutch Augustinians to wear them with their business suits.
Oh yes, and the “Karl Marx” one I was wearing also came from Private Eye
But as for John Lennon and the Beatles, by the time I was staying with the Dutch Augustinians, they looked like this:
As we used to say back then: Dress happy.
As for me, I’m just glad that Orthodox clergy are not required to wear that most ludicrous of articles of attire, the dog-collar.