Monday, February 26, 2007

More on Vestments

I had to share this with you!

One of my parishioners told me the other day that there used to be a store in a neighboring town called "Heavenly Rounds - Religious Vestments & Square Dancing Clothing."

Isn't that delicious!!??

Speaking of vestments, this is the Rev. Dr. Kendra Vaughan Covey, Elder High Priestess and Metaphysician of the First Church of Wicca:
Rev. Dr. Kendra Vaughan Hovey

One of you saw Rev. Dr. Kendra on television and wrote to express curiosity her decision to wear a clerical collar. I thought it would be best to let Kendra speak for herself and sent her an e-mail inquiry, to which she responded,

"First, let me say that the collar - although it is most widely accepted in the Roman Catholic faith - is not a Christian item at all. It was brought to us in the 1700's as a form of clothing worn by all clergy at the time. Since then it is very common to see a collar worn by Methodist ministers, Unitarian Universalist ministers, as well as Non-Denominational ministers.

Incidentally, Raymond Buckland (The Father of American Witchcraft) and Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, the founder of the Gray School of Wizardry, both wore a collar for several years while active in Pagan ministry.

My reasons for wearing the collar are quite simple:

1) I am first, a Non-Denominational minister that believes I should be available to all people at all times. You would be amazed at the number of people who actually stop me wherever I am to tell me their problems and ask for advice. I am thrilled that I can help.

2) I have a pentacle embroidered on the left cuff of every sleeve - so when people stop and ask me what type of minister I am I show them the pentacle - say Pagan, and look at it as an opportunity to educate one more person - emphasizing of course, that we do not proselytize.

3) Currently, I am making huge strides in being accepted into several Interfaith Councils and working as a hospital and prison Chaplain. The collar gives me instant recognition as clergy and of course, brings a level of much needed respect to the Pagan community from the Community at Large.

I hope that helps clarify things for you!"

Rev. Dr. Kendra also recommended to me this vestments glossary:

So there you have it. One non-Christian clergyperson's explanation of why she wears clericals. (I think where she says early on that the collar is not Christian at all, she meant to say "Catholic," corresponding to Collins' explanation of the collar's Protestant origins).

Thanks for allowing me to post this, Rev. Dr. Kendra. Blessings and kiss of Peace!



Anonymous Mary Ann said...

Ah, interesting. Particularly since I have been told to avoid a collar lest I look too "high"-- United Methodist here. (I will be getting some clergy shirts for winter interments, however.)

8:41 PM  
Blogger UUEnforcer said...

The history of the white collar dates back to ancient Greece when public speaker would wrap their throats with scarves to keep them warm. and What scarves were the cheapest so they wore white.

Over time a white cloth wrapped around the neck became the symbol of public speakers and anyone who wanted to be seen as a serious public speaker had to wear it. That is why even today lawyers in British Commonwealth nations still wear what we would call preaching tabs.

The real question is why wear a tabbed collar verses a full collar? That's the question that we really should be discussing, at least for those of us who are part of Christian or Christianish denominations.

9:11 PM  
Blogger boyinthebands said...

My ears are burning.

I prefer full (a.k.a. neckband or Moravian) collar for the following reasons. Note the lack of profound systematic thinking.

1. Moravian collars "read" lower church, perhaps because of their association with monastics (who needn't be ordained). I don't know where I got that from.

2. Tab-collared all-in-one shirts seem to be commonly cut in the worst boxy styles in the cheapest broadcloth.

3, You can't tuck Geneva tabs under a tab collar. (But you can tie them over, with a gown.)

4. You can wear a shirt front with a Moravian collar.

5. Tab collars are often made of polypropelene. An emergency substitute can be made out of an index card or a piece of a plastic orange juice jug. I do not think this is a good thing. I found acetate-lined cloth neckband collars, admittedly in Rome, but they are available. One colleague somehow finds the kind you have start to death.

10:54 PM  
Blogger boyinthebands said...

"starch to death"

10:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well now we know.
Thanks for the info.

7:23 AM  
Blogger LT said...

Who cares what the history of the collar is? Does anyone know that it is of such ancient origin that all public speakers in ancient Greece wore them?
The collar identifies the wearer, in this time, place and culture as Christian clergy. Non-christians wear the collar to claim the authority that Christian clergy carry by tradition in this time, place and culture. Ministers who take great pains in explaining how they are not Christian in theology want the social benefits of the Christian clergy at certain times and places, and so they wear the collar at political events, hospital visits and interviews on television. It is misappropriation as surely as if I put on a cardinal's vestments and wandered through St. Peter's Square.

8:08 AM  
Anonymous madgebaby said...

Ok, at the risk of being sort of non-PC I have a problem with this use of clericals.

regardless of the history, in our context wearing a collar (tab or neckband) IS associated with Christianity and with the sacraments. I've never known a rabbi to wear a collar, or an iman--have any of you? Lots of protestants I know don't wear them because they aren't all that sacramental in their focus, and many Episcopal priests only wear them when they are functioning sacramentally or will be known by that capacity.

A person in the hospital, say, has the reasonable expectation that a person in a collar will baptize their sick baby, bring them the Eucharist, listen to their confession, and provide absolution. I'm thinking that this person, for all her gifts, will not and dare I say SHOULD not be doing these things because of her own belief system.

I'm all for respect and tolerance but this makes me very uneasy. I'm pretty careful not to use the symbols of other religious beliefs for my own ends, and I don't like it when the symbols of mine are used in ways that are confusing.

8:42 AM  
Blogger Charlotte said...

I think the idea of one religion co-opting artifacts of another for social recognition reasons in this day and age is fascinating. I imagine there is a lot of confusion when the Rev. Dr. Kendra shoots her cuffs and her conversation-companions see the pentacle. Do they sometimes think that this is a Christian woman who worships something else?

I think what PeaceBang does in this blog is bring to light all of the social baggage that goes along with being clergy as well as being societally American. We believe in what we do and we manifest that belief in our actions and our appearance. Much of what we do as church-people is intensely watched and critiqued by the non-churched; I am not sure I agree with the message that the Rev. Dr. Kendra is sending to the world.

At any rate, I do have to argue with MadgeBaby's statement:
"A person in the hospital, say, has the reasonable expectation that a person in a collar will baptize their sick baby, bring them the Eucharist, listen to their confession, and provide absolution."

While this may be a correct assumption, technically speaking, a vocational deacon in the Episcopal church can do none of these thing - they are not ordained to the sacraments. What deacons do, as do all chaplains, lay or ordained, is witness to people in crisis, without imposing their own beliefs or stories upon those who are suffering.

Thank you, all, for once again allowing me to express my belief in God and the contents of Vogue.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous madgebaby said...

Actually, a deacon can do all of these things except pronounce absolution and bless the elements of the eucharist.

Any Christian can baptize in an emergency, layfolk distribute the elements of communion from the sunday service all the time, and any Christian can hear a confession (without the absolution at the end). When I was a CPE resident, I did all these things as a Christian person, and as a deacon I did them in a collar as did all the deacons I know.

I don't think any of us want to impose our beliefs on anyone, as chaplains or otherwise, but by wearing a collar one chooses to send a message about oneself and about what one is available to do. If I wear a collar, I say that not only am I available to be open and present in a person's crisis, I am also available in a more explicitly Christian, sacramental way. That's where my concern originates in this case.

1:25 PM  
Blogger PeaceBang said...

I just want to add here that I appreciate Rev. Dr. Kendra's willingness to share her reasons for wearing clericals as a non-Christian. I appreciate her points about wanting to be immediately recognized as a spiritual leader, a healer, a blesser, and I also appreciate the point many of you have raised about the fact that clericals are unmistakably visually connected to the Christian ministry.

As someone said, these are complicated issues and worth seriously considering together. I'm closing the comments because I want to respect Rev. Dr. Kendra's minority status among the clergy and to keep this from becoming a pile-on.

Non-Christian Unitarian Universalists who wear clericals have, courtesy of these comments, more fodder for thought about what kind of pastoral ministry they will be expected to offer if they're out and about in clericals, especially in chaplaincy settings.

1:54 PM  

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