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Saturday, May 07, 2016

Things we don't say much anymore

"Everybody come to the table. It's time for dinner."

It used to be the standard. Families ate together. It wasn't a chore or a hardship. It was a given. There was even a time when they expected you to "dress for dinner", which was not your comfortable play clothes. So families would share at least one meal and talk about their day and keep in touch. (And "dinner" referred to the biggest meal of the day ... which on Sunday was often lunch.)

"Put on your Sunday-go-to-meetin' clothes."

I suppose there might still be some who would use this phrase, but it can only be a carryover from a day gone by because it is extremely rare that anyone would think that there should be anything special about the way you dress to go into the presence of God on Sunday. Shorts and t-shirts are fine. The pastor is surely not dressing any differently than most. If you wanted to express something like this, you'd have to substitute something like "Put on the clothes you might wear to a meeting with someone important" or something like that. Although I'm not sure anyone knows what that means anymore. Respect in how we dress is not a common courtesy offered to many these days ... including God on Sunday.

"I may not agree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it."

In truth, you might hear it among some conservatives, but I'm not sure they mean it anymore. I'm fairly sure the liberals don't. There are a host of opinions, views, phrases, and such that we are not allowed to express and, instead of defending your right to say them, you can more likely expect people to compete for censuring, suing, or jailing you for such things. Tops on the list these days is anything perceived as "anti-woman", "anti-LGBT", or racist (loosely defined, since "racist" requires a prejudice based on race, but the modern definition is prejudice from people in power). The Constitution defends your freedom of speech, but you can't expect many these days to defend the Constitution, especially when your speech crosses the line on these "pet peeves".

"Go ahead. It's a free country."

It used to be that what you did was no skin off my nose. "You don't believe you can participate in a wedding for homosexuals? No problem. It's a free country. We'll get someone else." No longer. "Free" is defined as "What we want you to do" and "What we want you to do" is an almost purely emotional position taken without genuine reason or rationale. "Free is what we say it is" now prevails. And it does not apply to you.

"Fair's fair."

It seemed painfully obvious. "If it's good for me, it's good for you." So if I got to choose the restaurant last time, you ought to get to choose the restaurant this time. Fair's fair. The phrase is painfully obvious because "fair" seems patently obvious. No longer. It's fair if the gay baker doesn't have to violate his values and make a cake with a Leviticus reference on it, but it is not fair to defer making a cake for a gay wedding if it violates your religious values. Muslims must not be insulted or mocked; Christians should. Substitute what you will. The loudest public voices today have the right to harm those who do not wish to participate and that's fair. Those who do not want to participate must participate and failure to do so is not fair. Michelle Obama, during a commencement commencement address at Jackson State University in Mississippi, assured the grads that Mississippi was wrong in protecting people's free exercise of religion. "We’ve got to stand side by side," she said, "with all our neighbors –- straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender; Muslim, Jew, Christian, Hindu immigrant, Native American ..." unless, of course, our neighbors are Christians who don't wish to agree with us because fair's fair, right? Well, you would have thought.

How about you? Can you think of other things we don't say much anymore?


David said...

God bless America. And mean it. I only hear it from non-religious politicians in their closing speeches as an apparent grab for the acceptance of the religious. Like adding it makes the previous statements more valid.

Stan said...

Oh, now you're adding an extra dimension. "Things we don't say much anymore and mean." That makes for a longer list, doesn't it?

Marshall Art said...

I did a post on your second one (and yes, I do use that expression because I like it and it amuses me to do so---I'm guessing you do, too). I got a lot of flack for daring to suggest that how we dress for Sunday service reflects our level of reverence for Whom it is we are going to worship. One guy tried to tell me he dressed casually so as not to make the poor people uncomfortable. (Three guesses who that was, and the first two won't count) While I can't say that I dress to the nines every time I go, there is no way I'm going to dress like I'm meeting up with one of the guys. That's because God is so much more. He's worth the extra effort, I would think.

I also think it is incumbent upon the pastor to set the tone. The church I attend has multiple branches. The main man, the top dog as it were, I've never seen preach in nothing less than a sport coat, slacks and tie. While I think he needs someone to help with his sartorial selection, at least he's in a jacket and tie. The pastor at the other campus where I sometime attend, is more casual. Usually jeans, though with a jacket, dress shirt sans tie. Just doesn't seem right to me, and "casual" doesn't begin to describe the lack of reverence reflected in the dress of too many congregants.

I know this was all a bit off topic, but it kind of a pet peeve of mine.

Stan said...

I share the peeve.

Bruce Hergert said...

I have heard this "dressing up" argument for as long as I can remember. I'm tired of it.

When I was a teen, there was an elder member in church who was certain that we all had to dress up for church. But my huge problem was that this person was a businessman who conducted everyday business in a business suit. And he wore those same business suits to church in his effort to dress up. Is this not silly? He preached dressing up to everyone else, but he himself wore his everyday clothes. In order for his argument to make sense, he should have shown up in a tuxedo.

And by the way, can we finally get over the fact that some boys/men may dare wear a baseball cap in church? Yes, it kind of bothers me at age 61. But at least they are there, in church, hearing the Word. Seems to me that too many are concerned with seeing what everyone is wearing.

Thanks Stan.


Stan said...

"I'm tired of it."

That's fine. America no longer has a "dress code", a sense of propriety. When high school kids show up to a prom wearing duct tape, we can be fairly sure those are bygone days. It used to be that you don't show up to a wedding in shorts, you don't attend a funeral in jeans, and you surely wouldn't go to an event -- a ball or a dinner with the president or something like that -- without wearing the proper attire. Gone are the days. God now gets the same respect that a hike in the desert gets ... whatever's comfortable. That's the way it is. That doesn't mean it's the way it should be. But at least God gets equal respect ... which, unfortunately, is very little.

Marshall Art said...

I don't see the "at least they're in church" angle as a legitimate response, and here's why: it demonstrates the very "on my terms" aspect that is apparent in those who support things like immoral sexual behavior. Should the kids (or anyone else) come to service only if they can be comfortable doing it doesn't impress me as one who is truly devoted to God. And again, it's a question of reverence. The old guy who wears suits to work? Are you certain he wears his "work suits" to church, or does he perhaps have a special suit set aside for church? What's more, he's showing a level of reverence and respect for his employer and employment by wearing suits. Even if it is an employment dress code, the reasoning is the same.

Stan said...

To me, this isn't a major issue. As I indicated to Bruce, I think it's more of a product of the current American mindset. "Dress up for church? Why? We don't need to dress up for anything." It's the natural (especially the Natural Man's) outcome of American independence. I do see a problem with "I'm coming to God on my own terms", but isn't that typical thinking in modern America? Don't we practically worship "I did it my way"?

And, to me, it's not what is worn. It is the attitude behind it. The guy that shows up in his cleanest t-shirt and jeans because it's the best he has and he's coming into the presence of God is better off than the guy who shows up in "office casual" (which just might be nicer clothing than the t-shirt guy) with the "I'm coming on my terms" attitude.

I work in a biolab that includes industrial machining and electronic development. In all three environments it has always been the case that dress code would include safety shoes and clothing that covered more skin simply for safety sake. Today? They don't. Why? "I'm doing it my way." Thus, no more "Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes" is a symptom rather than a problem.

Marshall Art said...

If one's best clothes just happens to be a clean t-shirt and jeans, then that constitutes his Sunday best.

But otherwise, we're on the same track. My focusing on the clothes is a reference to a symptom of what I think is a serious problem, as well as something for which we might all want to check ourselves. It's really quite easy to fall into some manifestation of the problem. Clothes is really just an easy one to "fix".

Bruce Hergert said...

Stan, I love the saying that you've mentioned many, many times: "If it's new, it's not true; if it's true, it's not new." Could this be applied to this whole "dressing up for church" thing? My question would be: when did we start dressing up for church? I defer to your knowledge of church history.

I know almost everything can be boiled down to being a heart issue. I can truly say that when I think about my reverence for God, my adoration, my submitting, what clothes I wear is the last thing on my mind. And even less on my mind is what others are wearing.

I share your blog with family and friends all the time. It has been a blessing to me.


Stan said...

In truth, Bruce, the question to me really isn't about dressing up. The question to me is about my personal attitude when I go to church. If the attitude is "I'm going to go and be comfortable and meet God on my terms," then it's a problem. I think that how we dress might reflect that, but it's the attitude that concerns me more than the particular articles of clothing in question.

David said...

And the quote you used applies more to theology. The development of technology doesn't effect the truth of theology, but as has been pointed out, it's the thought behind it. Orthodoxy will produce orthopraxy. If you can truthfully claim that you are coming with the utmost reference dressed in shorts and a T-shirt and flip flops, then your conscience is clear, but I seriously doubt anyone can ever do that once they really think about the Presence they are coming before. If we're respectful enough to show up dressed nice for a job interview, how much more respect should we be showing to God?

Marshall Art said...

That's where I'm coming from, David. It's a check on one's attitude, I think, to make one's dress a reflection of that attitude of reverence. I wish I could dress up my attention span as well, as I am not beyond finding my mind drifting from my purpose for being there.

As an aside, I'm not so much concerned about what other people wear, that I would waste much time focusing on it, as I am having enough trouble staying focused on my purpose as it is sometimes. But one cannot help but notice and wonder about it. It is so prevalent. I recall as a child that my father, brothers and I wore suits, while my mother and sisters wore dresses and something covering their heads. Not a one of us were angels, but we realized we weren't going to the zoo.