Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Advent

My sweet and dear light-filled beings,

PeaceBang was just now listening to "On Point" on NPR, and while she tries to avoid worldly concerns in these posts in favor of transcendent subjects such as lipgloss, she must say that she was thinking of you as she heard experts on civil war inform us that yes, what's happening in Iraq right now is a civil war.

PeaceBang thought of all of you lighting the first Advent candles this coming Sunday and stepping up to preach on hope, and on peace, and on joy, and saying the hard words about what is required of us to welcome the Christ in a broken land of empire. She hoped that when you prepared to preach this truth, you would remember that part of what gives our worldly leaders authority is that they're not afraid to look as though they have authority.

Would President Bush or Condi Rice or the (currently unemployed)Donald Rumsfeld show up at a briefing unshaven, uncoiffed, askew, looking as though they just tumbled out of bed? No. Every button is in place, every garment is spotless, their posture is upright, their gaze steady with no crumbs in the corners. Don't let worldly leaders win the image war. People believe what they see. People trust what the body tells, and they should be able to.

May your body and your being radiate the authority of the Holy Spirit and the glory of God this Advent season. And don't forget to shine your shoes.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Lorna said...

When Tony Blair won the election in the UK (first time) his wife opened the door as if she HAD just tumbled out of bed. It was great :)

2:41 AM  
Blogger LaReinaCobre said...

I thought about this and I feel sad. Is it possible for people to see beyond the surface? How can it be that Bush's and Rumsfeld's professional veneers be enough for so many people to just believe in them? Can anything change it?

I was recently told by a friend that I was not a black person. Apparently, she couldn't reconcile my personality and relationship with her to my actual physical characteristics and so she completely negated my ethnicity, because otherwise she could not make the two things fit. She said - to my face and in front of two other people - "Why do you keep saying you're black? You're too nice to be black."

This is an extreme example, but very recent - and the woman who said this is even younger than I am - so she is not of some bygone generation. Of course I want to look nice and be accepted by others, but this latest experience causes me to wonder what it really means to be accepted for one's appearance. Because I don't fit someone's image of a "bad" person, does it mean they will believe in me, or trust me, or understand me?

4:27 PM  
Blogger jean said...

Know, O Peace Bang, that you have had profound influence on me. After YEARS of wearing NO makeup, I have dug out my eyeshadow, eyebrow pencil, blush, finish powder, and toolkit of brushes. Today I shopped for new mascara and lipstick. Chalk one up for yourself.

6:01 PM  
Blogger PeaceBang said...

Jean, I hope you enjoy it! Don't do it if you don't enjoy it. And be careful of that Ye Old Make-Up, which might have loads of bacteria on it. Be careful, my dear! Write and let us know how it goes!

HS, I sit here with my jaw hanging open in a most unattractive way. Your "friend" told you that you're TOO NICE TO BE BLACK?? The racist ignorance and general insensitivity of this remark stuns me. I hope you'll write about this on your own blog, as it deserves to be heard in a wider forum. All I can say is, I'm so sorry, I am incredibly offended for you, and I can only hope that this friend gets a brain in her head at some point.

As for seeing beyond the surface, no, we can't. At least we don't at first. It's impossible. What people meet when they meet public figures is a persona and a presence. Finding anything deeper takes a lot of time. Ministers, like everyone else, have less than ten seconds to make a first impression on those they meet. If they project schlumpiness, that's the sense of presence that others get. If they project a fully realized, attractive, put-together image, people have better reason to hope they might actually *be* together.

Of course you can look great and still be a mess inside, but I'm assuming that my readers would rather dress for the best in themselves than the worst.

A polished exterior *can* be a veneer that manipulates the viewer into thinking that the interior reality is trustworthy or virtuous. However, let's admit that a polished exterior can also be the authentic exterior of a solid interior reality. We should obviously aim for the latter. A schlumpy, sloppy exterior, I'm afraid, communicates a schlumpy interior whether that's the true condition or not. I didn't say the world was fair. I just work here, and am trying to be hip to reality.

10:38 PM  
Blogger LaReinaCobre said...

Yes, I'm sure I get better treatment than some others because I dress in a way that is pretty acceptable to the mainstream. There's a big difference in how I'm treated now and how I was treated when I dressed in a way that clearly identified me as a Muslim. And for many people - like ministers and business leaders - it is really important that people can look at you and feel they can trust you.

Once in a while I just get discouraged, is all. It makes me think of the woman who told a former friend of mine that she couldn't stand Martin Luther King, Jr. because he was "nothing but a trouble-maker." This was 30 years after his death, and he wore suits and ties all the time! It's important for me to remember that no matter how I dress, there will always be something for people to judge me by - no matter how professionally I dress - and it may not be a judgment I like or agree with.

At the time same, I recognize that sometimes the "wrong" clothing can get in the way of whatever you're trying to say or be - and that is the aspect of all this that you seem to rightly focus on.

Thanks for letting me think aloud on your blog.

1:02 PM  
Blogger jean said...

I bought new mascara and lipstick. Had a time finding navy mascara. The one I found was inexpensive, goes on easily and doesn't clump, run, or leave tracks. Talk about luck!

Having trouble with eyebrows, as mine have TOTALLY disappeared over the years. I have to start out very light, so as not to startle everybody, and it's difficult to get both eyebrows to match, starting from scratch.

5:52 PM  
Blogger jean said...

I got compliments this morning at church on how nice I looked (can't take credit for the good hairstyle), but the understated makeup was my doing. My idea of being well made-up is to look NOT made up.

5:22 PM  

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