Friday, 11 October 2013

Collars? Something to get hot under!

A friend wrote, 'I'm always amazed at how often people get 'hot under the collar' about this issue,' and they were right because I had a few comments* that fit that description, and many that didn't.

Anon writes, 'There are times when I choose to wear my collar and times when I have to wear my collar but generally I don't because I don't want to be labelled or pidgeon holed by people around me because of the job I do. I think you've got it all wrong with what you have said and feel quite attacked and angry by it.'

I think that we all have times when we choose not to wear our collars, that said I find that I probably wear it more than I don't these days because I think the 'Taxi' analogy is valid and so feel that when I'm out with it on am fair game to be stopped and engaged with. The fact that I am stopped and engaged with so much seems to confirm this thinking. But we have, and make, our own choices and unless it says 'don't do it' in the big Black Book (BBB), all are valid.

I wasn't trying to pour burning oil on people's heads, but was merely trying to get some of those I engage with on the journey of exploration of vocations to think about the role being more that just a job and to explain that there are a number of factors (which I listed in the original post) that we need to consider across a number of areas - and the piece of plastic that adorns our necks is just one of them.

Many of those who don't generally wear collars have told me that they wear them when it's appropriate, by which they mean occasional offices, but otherwise they are to be found in the study. Again, this isn't an issue, I wasn't saying you must, or you should, but I was saying what I thought and how this relates to me. Mind you, I have wondered since the 'only  appropriate' comment which places might be deemed to be inappropriate and my weird mind has had a bit of field day - but I'll spare you that.

A few have told me that the collar doesn't work these days, the pick of the crop being:

'In this day and age, the wearing of the clerical collar is outdated and outmoded. To wear it is to invite being ignored and avoided: So I don't and make relationships as me and wait for them to ask about the God side and if they don't then I've won a friend even if not a parishioner.'

And to be honest, I was disturbed by this because as nice as it is to make friends, I was under the perhaps deluded idea that I was to make family; to make disciples who understood and lived in the ways that God, through the Cross, required us to live. It's a bit like the people I met who 'want to be friends, not parents' with their children. Just as I am a parent first and hopefully a friend later, the same is true with the priestly role.

I have many friend who being into New Wine (like me) wear the alternative clerical outfit of check shirt (open-necked), brown shoes, hornrimmed glasses and flannels or cords and have the view that clerical garb of any form is outmoded, popish and to quote one, 'So yesterday!' The problem is that much of the negativity they perceive towards them and their message is towards them and their message rather than the kit they wear. That said, one chap said that by not wearing anything that said 'Vicar' they found they could get closer to people before they rejected them - which I really like!

I think the same applies to wearing of cassock albs and the like during the services. When I started where I am now I decided that I wouldn't wear 'tat' during the service for the first few weeks and see where the congregation wanted to go. I wore a clerical shirt and black trousers and shoes but that was it, opting for cassock alb on feast days, festivals and holidays. After a couple of months I asked the congregation what they wanted and how they felt about the way we did our services and as a response altered what I did. Now I wear the clerical shirt rig until we reach the Eucharist and then, coming as President from the people, I put on the cassock alb and preside. After the Eucharist I take it off again and return to the people - seems to fit what I see as the NT way.

Now I don't expect everyone to like what I do, but it works and seems to fit the bill. This is the same for clerical collars - at the end of the day we do what we do and whilst we may get it wrong at times, that's our prerogative.

So please don't read what I'm writing as a criticism or putdown (unless it is - and you will know when that happens) because it;s not - it's me taking stuff from my brain and putting it somewhere where I, and others, might dialogue with it.

All comments are welcome and for any I may have inadvertently offended - apologies.


*I am amazed that Blogger appears to be such a tough  place to leave comments - many write to me because they cant successfully leave a comment - something that needs fixing methinks :-)


simon said...

I have a wonderful t-shirt that I had printed with a vicar picture on it, which I wear for some assemblies and at occasional other community events. I like to think it treads a middle way - and being Anglican, that seems especially appropriate.

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

I think this is absolutely brilliant - I loves it I does :-)

(thinks - time to get a t-shirt made

Anonymous said...

My other half ( Church of Scotland)wears his during working hours, and folk seem to like being able to identify him. If we are shopping in the supermarket on days off, they come over and say " Oh Minister are you in disguise today?". He wondered about losing the preaching robe but the congregation like it. I just think he looks pretty good in it!

By the way he's applied to go back into Army Chaplaincy (TA this time). Saw your name listed in the "Journal".

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

Excellent on all counts - always good to have another back in!

Totally right on the 'in disguise' comment - get that on the odd 'no collar' outings.