Monday, March 16, 2009

meetin' clothes

There was a discussion this morning on NPR about the huge increase in "nones" in this country--people who don't affiliate themselves with any religion. Maybe you've heard about this new survey that suggests that Americans are turning away from organized religion, and perhaps faith in God.

I only heard a few minutes of the program. I hope to catch the podcast later today. But I did hear one caller, a man who does not attend church, say words to this effect: "When I was growing up going to church was a special event of the week. Men and boys wore suit and ties, women and girls wore dresses. Now people show up wearing any old thing and it has taken a lot away from the experience. There used to be choirs and now it's just canned music. It's become tacky. It doesn't seem special anymore."

I have heard people of various faiths express this same opinion. I think it's inconceivable for most people of my religion, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, to imagine showing up at church in jeans and t-shirts. We wear I suppose what would be categorized as traditional semi-formal. Dresses or skirts for women, suits for men (or at least dress pants and shirt w/tie). Hearing the comment this morning on the radio show made me feel a greater appreciation for that. Church is special. It is where we go to experience the sacred, and outward preparations, though they are not necessarily reflective of inward reverence, do help us get into that mindset. Perfect evidence of this is in the above photo. It was taken on a Sunday morning years ago. Bernie is two. She knows she's being encouraged to do something (we were trying to get her to smile), but she's not sure what. She sees that everyone's got on Sunday duds, so she folds her arms in case what she's supposed to do is pray!
When I sit in sacrament meeting Sunday mornings, it's nice to look around and see that most of us took a little care somewhere between rolling out of bed and entering the chapel.

I love to participate in the music at our meetings. Sure, there are some hymns I greatly prefer to others. We happen to be in a ward right now that has a lot of musical talent, and I know that isn't the case in all congregations of the Church. But I think all of our music contributes to the feeling of reverence and sacredness. Georgie and Lidia played at our sacrament meeting Sunday and it was lovely.


Anonymous said...

i heared that it was inseresting i dont mind dressing up. i put on a shirt and tie to go to school today. i think the more we make God a common (as in Having no special designation, status, or rank) thing in our dress and speach the easier it is to not follow his laws.


Ave said...

That is kind of what I was trying to get across to my Sunday school class yesterday. That there is a point to church, a point to the way we dress etc. They just stared blankly so I got more and more outrageous in my statements. Oh well. The Europeans have always dressed better then Americans, I wonder if it effects their behavior?

Meg said...

I am seeing more and more pants in church. (Living here...not in Utah.) They say "it's too cold" for dresses or skirts?

I know my aunt who has been called to work in the temple in Salt Lake was told in her orientation that if a person shows up in say, levis and a t-shirt, but has a valid temple recommend, they are to allow them to continue in. This is so foreign to me.

I agree with JW I guess.

I was just shopping this morning for something new to wear on Sundays. Zip. Nada. Nothing.

I asked the saleswoman where the skirts and dresses were. She pointed me to the formal suits (great if I was a news broadcaster) and formal evening wear (great if I had somewhere to go, lol).

I left wondering if I was the only woman in America still shopping for something in between "slouch" and "Bata-Bing!" :)

Calandria said...

Ok, Meg, you will think ill of me, but I have to confess to wearing pants once to church. We were called as missionaries to an inner-city branch. I went two weeks in a row in sub-zero temperatures and the heating at church was faulty. I was feeling a little rebelious so I wore lined dress slacks and a nice sweater the next Sunday. (Most of the women in the branch wore slacks.) Well, guess what. That was the week they had the heating fixed and it was SO hot. I was sweating. I learned my lesson. ;-)

As far as letting people in to the temple, well I think they should. I don't think anyone should ever feel unwelcome at church or at the temple no matter how they are dressed. We have people come to our ward every week in casual clothes, and I hope all we have for them are smiles!

Anonymous said...

I agree Calandria. I think people should be able to wear whatever they want and feel comfortable. However (and I'm sure you probably feel this way), I think that if you know the dress standards expected, and have the money to accomplish it, you should look your absolute best. ESPECIALLY in the temple.

Here at BYU-I they encourage us to dress up for every class. It's not necessary, but a lot of people do it because they can feel a difference in the way they act and perceive things.

I don't know that Europeans always dress better than Americans. I know a lot of Europeans, and I must say there are plenty of sloppy ones.

Mama Ava said...

I go back and forth on this issue. I feel like we should dress to show respect, but when I'm trying to force Noah into a button shirt and non-track pants (the church uniform he's been wearing for all of his 10 years)and he's fighting me, I think about how important it is to dress a certain way versus arriving to church on time with a prayerful heart (which is not how we are on those days). Then I think...we are clean, our jeans (if we wear them) are neat and not torn, no tshirts, etc...most of all we are present, ready to hear God's word and worship together, which is what we've all come for in the first place.

Ave said...

I guess I should have been more specific. I was thinking of places like London and Paris.

I wear dress pants to church at least twice a year in winter. I always make sure I am wearing a nice sweater and pearls or something with it. I see no problem with that.

ML said...

Of course the Savior taught that it's what's inside that defileth a man. As we gain a better understanding (inner)of our relationship to God, it is reflected in outward ways--often including our dress.

Calandria said...

I agree, Mama Ava, that getting there with your heart in the right place is the most important thing. After a few Sunday morning battles with one of our children when this child was four and refused Sunday-appropriate clothing, I decided we'd wait until the child was older. The child couldn't seem to get it at that age that this is what we do and it wasn't worth the bad feelings.

And it is such an individual decision. I read some opinion by a member of our church that women should not wear denim skirts to church or sandals, and should never be seen in church without nylons. I was like, what? We definitely don't have those ideas in this neck of the woods.

So I think people should wear whatever they think contributes to the sanctity of the day.

Meg said...
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Meg said...
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Meg said...

Take three...good grief!


You say I will think ill of you and then describe your extenuating circumstances. Hopefully I have a bit more compassion than judgement left in me. ;)

I didn't mean to make pants the issue. I don't think it is. I was actually thinking how much easier it would be, given my earlier shopping. But for me, I want my Sunday worship to be a time set apart from the world. I remember reading one of the prophets talking about not doing the same things we do the other 6 days of the week, on Sunday. For us to make the Sabbath stand apart. I want to look and feel different than I do during the week. I want to put on "Sunday clothes". (Granted, they could be warmer at times. :)

There are gazillions (OKay...maybe a grand handful) of stories recited about the sacrifices saints around the world make to go to their meetings or to attend the temple. They usually include an explanation of the sacrifices made to make sure their clothing is "proper". At the temple dedications, people are dressed in whatever is their very best to come and worship at the house of the Lord. I don't think affordability is the issue when dressed in levis and a t-shirt to attend the temple. I'm sure if it truly is, the Lord understands and welcomes all the same.

We know the church leaders have talked about these things recently. They teach that casualness in appearance can lead to casualness in things like attitude and obedience.

Take the missionaries...

Why aren't the the missionaries allowed to simply wear what's comfortable or convenient? It's the same gospel they would testify of so what difference does it make what they wear?

Anonymous said...

Nones? Never heard that word before.

In many religions the church is a house of God. Do you really want to go to God's house wearing anything but your best? It is a sign of love and respect. What that is exactly can change from culture to culture.

Here in Europe people generally dress much better then in the U.S. (NEVER go outside with sweats on) but they do not always wear their Sunday best to church. In the LDS church they usually do but in others people wear jeans. The Dutch are notorious for not having Sunday clothes. They wear jeans to a wedding or funeral. You can’t find any white shirts for boys under 15 years old. We buy Sunday clothes for children outside this country then hand them around the church as children grow out of them. Only last year could you find a dress anywhere. You can buy skirts but not dresses. The Dutch pay a lot of money for casual but forget dress clothes.

Mission clothes very from mission to mission depending on the weather and culture. Their dress code makes them very visible and it is as much for them as for others. Going on a mission is as much for the spiritual and emotional development of the missionary as for the growth of the church. Many think its to spread the gospel (which it is) but they do not realize that a mission is also to develop well-rounded spiritual individuals. A mission is to serve others. What a great lesson to learn at a young age.

Anonymous said...

I wear my kilt in the dead of winter and its not to bad.


Anonymous said...

A lot of people go to church here on a bycicle. That kilt would be interesting on a bike.