04 September 2006

Ecclesiastical Law

Sorry for the lack of updates in the last few days. It's been an extraordinarily busy holiday weekend for me that has included: a funeral, a baby shower, a wedding, a BBQ, an Arrested Development season three marathon and hot-tubbing.

I had one odd fashion epiphany this weekend and it happened to occur at the funeral I attended. I don't feel comfortable talking about fashion and funerals because the gravity of one doesn't allow for the levity of the other. Therefore, I will speak only of the importance of well-timed conventional appearance.

Traditional funeral attire is somber, conservative and black, hence the adjective funereal. I typically never dress by convention because I find convention obnoxious and, well, because I'm not a lemming. However, I don't think a funeral is a place to make a fashion statement. And certainly, as I was preparing to go to the funeral, fashion was the last thing on my mind. I simply wore conservative black.

When I arrived, the entire congregation was dressed in somber black, hiding puffy eyes behind dark sunglass. Everyone, that is, except the officiating pastor. He wore a baby blue, short-sleeved Tommy Bahama shirt with khaki pants. His mahogany tan, BriteSmile toothy grin, flamboyant mannerisms and anecdotal platitudes were jarring and distracting. It felt like he was on his way to do stand up in Vegas and had stopped by the church for a dress rehearsal.

I will not assess the pastor's wardrobe based on my personal bias against Tommy Bahama, so I'm simply going to assess his appearance using a Bible verse that he (ironically) read during the service, Ecclesiastes 3:4: "There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." As he read it, I couldn't help but think, There is a time to regard convention; there is a time to avoid conspicuity.

Anatole Broyard wrote in the New York Times, "But do I have to sound so funereal, so pontifically solemn?" To that I say, if you are conducting a funeral, yes. As importantly, should a pastor dress in a funereal, pontifically solemn manner while conducting a funeral? Categorically, emphatically yes.

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