Friday, June 15, 2007

What You Mean "We," White Man?

That's the punchline to one of my three favorite jokes. Thank you, Lenny Bruce.

I think of it because I just read an article in the Seattle "Spokesman-Review" that begins:

"Although it's not the regular vestment for Lutheran clergy, Bishop Martin Wells often wears a clerical collar. The collar – often worn by Catholic and Episcopal priests – makes the church more public wherever he goes, said the leader of the Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. These days, the clerical collar has become a way for Wells to show solidarity for Catholic priests, as well as other members of the Roman Catholic Church."

The rest of the story is about some Papist sex scandals. And while we at the Egg are touched by Bishop Wells' desire to show solidarity for the Seattle diocese, we're a bit stumped by that opening line. Clerical collars aren't a "regular" part of a Lutheran pastor's clothing? Says who?

In fact, distinctive clerical attire -- the collar and its various predecessor garments -- have always been customary among Lutherans, excepting only those regions affected by Pietist anticlericalism. Granted, that's a lot of regions, but still. Here in New York, our synod assemblies look like penguin conventions. And you can look through the old Confirmation Class photos in any parish archives, often dating back to the beginning of photography, to see the penguins of prior generations. (Oh, and our bishop wears the traditional purple, which is really a sort of red).

As I say, these things are regional. But i wonder if the Spokesman-Review did much homework for this story, because it certainly doesn't seem to know much about the subject. "Vestments," for example, are properly speaking liturgical garb, not street clothing such as a cassock or collar. And at least in Scandinanvia and Metro New York, the penguins rule.

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