Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Art of Covering Up

I don't have as much time to write this morning, so I'm going to post some writing that appeared last week on my theology blog--but it does have to do with creating and fabric, so it fits here.  For those of you who hate my writing that takes a spiritual turn, you've been warned.  Of course, if you're the reader who rolls his/her eyes at my spiritual meanderings, you've probably stopped reading this blog long ago.

Wendy, one of the commenters at my theology blog, noted the similarities between liturgical vestments and academic gowns.   She says, "Is the longing to wear the gown, the stole, to consecrate the bread and "wine" part of a call or part of the same absurd wish that we still wore academic gowns to teach so I could wear mine every day? Some days I'm not sure."

I'll need to think more about that.

In the meantime, here's the post:

--Here's a strange observation: one of the things I liked best about Thursday's Reformation service is the fact that several pastors participated and they had none-matching stoles. I loved seeing the variety of approaches to the stole. The color is the same, but so much can be done in that color.

--The first time I was at Mepkin Abbey I noticed all the vestments in such an interesting variety. Not every monk wore stoles and chasubles. At first I wondered why, and then I realized that not every monk is ordained.

--At Mepkin Abbey, unlike all the churches I've been in, there was no attempt to match the vestments to the paraments. The robes that the monks put on over their monk robes were all different, although they were white. I've enjoyed going back to Mepkin in different liturgical seasons to see the different stoles.

--I've noticed the same thing about Synod Assembly. I love seeing the stoles. Synod Assembly has an added benefit of having ordained women, some of whom have very different stoles from the men.

--And then there are the Associates in Ministry, who get to wear a stole, but as I understand it, their stole crosses the chest, as opposed to hanging down.

--If I was a grad student or a traditional academic, I'd love to do some research into the kinds of stoles worn by men and compare them to those that women choose.

--Or do they choose them at all? Back when I knew people graduating from seminary, they'd often get a stole or two for a graduation present.

--I have a friend who had a friend who said that Episcopalians have the best vestments.

--Of course, he wouldn't have used the word "vestments." He was a low-church guy before he became an agnostic. He called Episcopalians "God's frozen chosen."

--Once I was at the gift shop at Montreat Conference Center--what a wealth of possibilities! It's worth the trip for the music (both books of music you can play on an instrument and CDs) and books. We wandered to the Ten Thousand Villages shop, where I couldn't stay away from the stoles very long. They had been woven and stitched by 3rd world folk artists.

--I asked, "Is it wrong to want to be ordained so that I could wear such beautiful vestments?" At the time I wasn't even going to church and didn't expect to become a regular church goer, so yes, ordination was unlikely.

--Now I ask, "Is it wrong to go to seminary just so I can consecrate the bread and wine?"

--My mom says, "It's not wrong, but it's a lot of money just to be able to consecrate the bread and wine." She's served her former synod by being on a variety of candidacy committees, so she understands the amount of money spent by seminarians. She understands the debt load.

--You might ask, "If you like vestments so much, why don't you make them?" I'm not that good a seamstress.

--But then I think about the quilts I've made. I'm actually not that bad a seamstress, if I can make a project that doesn't require fitting difficult seams together or piecing tiny patterns.

--I like the idea of making a stole because it would let me have fun with fabric without committing to a quilt. I could have fun with decorations. I could do all kinds of artistic things because stoles are going to be worn once or twice a week and rarely laundered.

--And a chasuble would be an even broader palette. As would paraments!

--One cannot make a living by handcrafting vestments and paraments. At least, I can't. Maybe if I had third world expenses or lived without first world luxuries, like abundant electricity.

--I like the idea of supporting other artisans who are trying to make a living by making vestments and paraments. I'll think more about this.

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