Live-blogging "The Parson's Handbook"

For a Broad Churchman (with more than a passing antipathy for the Anglican Communion), I have a remarkable admiration for Percy Dearmer and his magnum opus, The Parson’s Handbook. (Wikipedia)

I can think of no work that has been more influential in shaping Anglican worship, taking the High Church standards and making them the norm. In case you wondered what happened to all those Geneva gown wearing Episcopalians of yore.

I suppose I like him because he tried — successfully in the main — to reform the style of worship, albeit on imperfectly historical lines,  to give worship and the appearance of the church and its ministers greater dignity. He was not, however, an aesthete or a spendthrift. On the contrary, Dearmer was a well-known Socialist and you can’t read The Parson’s Handbook without hearing his regard for what a poor church could do with its resources — advise not lost today.

I think it is the character and wit in Dearmer’s writing, the practical pastoral touch and compelling arguments (even those going down roads I have no interest in following) that makes The Parson’s Handbook compelling over its many editions and a must-grab when found used. It simply wasn’t available until digitized and only the smaller first edition (1899) was available until very recently.

Google Books has published a copy of the fourth edition — 1902 — and I will be reading it and live blogging the parts that I think my readership (Unitarian Universalist and independent Catholic) would best appreciate.

The Parson’s Handbook (Google Books)

Bookmark, use Class Matters

While I was reading the Class Matters site, promoted by Victoria Weinstein, who heard it from Hafidha Sofia (Never Say Never to Your Traveling Self), I noted

  • the UU blogger who left a comment, which as a state land-grant university educated person I appreciated.
  • how it hurts a little because it reminds me of how low-class I sometimes have felt in Unitarian Universalist settings. Former blogger Matthew Gatheringwater coined or used the term “governess class” to describe overeducated people of modest backgrounds, like me; see his comment at Philocrites. I overcome the hurt — softer now — by hammering away and outlasting, and no, I wouldn’t trade my background for anything. I’m quite proud of my family’s and my accomplishments, thank you. Even the moonshiners. And don’t think you’re complementing me for “not sounding Southern.”
  • the most helpful article in explaining my perpetual anger and eye-rolling about the ways of certain self-indulgent Unitarian Universalists. File this under “unnecessary weirdness” and please remember I want a chair if you’re holding a meeting.
  • if I ever start a church, I will wear my Sunday Best and, when presiding or preaching, proper clerical vesture. (I hadn’t thought how my class position might be a reason I have written about this so much.)

It’s not ‘them’ — it’s us!” by Betsy Leondar-Wright (Class Matters)

With this entry, I open the category Class

Here are the clericals posts PeaceBang mentioned

Welcome PeaceBang readers: here’s the stuff.

Everything I’ve written about clericals, vestments, ministerial garb, favorite vendors and GENEVA BANDS (but not BANJO) is here. Scott Wells in customary ministerial garb

You can see what I look like in gown, collar and bands (for preaching) in this 2005 photo; this is what I mean by a medium-height neckband collar.

Since the Washington, D.C. Capitol Pride parade and county fair festival was this past weekend, let me add a few observations I gathered then and in past years:

  • I don’t see the appeal, my ministering sisters, to wearing anything sleeveless as street clothes in the first place. Sleeveless clericals make me shudder. And no shorts, even walking length.
  • Again, clergy shirts and jeans don’t match, even if you’re trying to look more casual and blend in. (Well, perhaps in Texas, but that’s a whole other world.) You will never blend in with clericals. If you’re clergy at some kind of festival and want to mix, wear something “civilian” with a discrete piece of religious jewelry, a polo shirt with denominational embroidery or a fun screened t-shirt.
  • Take your nipple rings out first unless you want people to think you’re a member of a “naughty vicar” club. (The Thorn Birds?) No? Well, then wear a jacket, please.

A serious word now: There are enough people who think or assume that under any clergymember is a sexual monster waiting to come out; the real predators are bad enough. Sexualized clergy tap into hidden fears. Don’t mix physical appearance metaphors unless you intend to confuse people, and if you intend to confuse people, what’s your goal? Does it harm the ministry, the church or disturb the faithful?

Cleaning your robe, gown, what-have-you

“Ordination season” is coming up, and a bunch of clergy who might not otherwise gown will gown, and a bunch of ordinands will get getting gifts, gowns included. A thought about maintaining your vesture.

I own two gowns — one too many in retrospect — and the older is about eleven or twelve years old. I have never had it cleaned, though it looks fine. Don’t be shocked by this.

In our wash-and-wear culture it may seem a sin not to wash clothing, but some items were never meant to be cleaned conventionally. Geneva gowns, especially, seem to suffer when their seams are tested. So I spot clean, brush, and steam (iron? never) it as necessary. But above all these I keep it protected away from sunlight and always (now) travel with it in a travel bag. If I know I’ll be near something messy — wedding cake, say — I am sure to put it away first.

I now expect years of service from my gowns and hope the same for you.

So if you’re buying an ordination gift, but want to get something unconventional, consider getting a good (dress length) garment bag or a clothes steamer. (The ordinand will get enough Bibles and book gift-certificates.) I was given these and have long appreciated them.

What ministers wear, an unexpected symposium

Sorry, dears. I’ve been terribly busy for the last three days and my half-formed posts need some work before I publish them.

That, and PeaceBang has engaged in an interesting dialogue with her “nemesis” at Beauty Tips for Ministers. ( I actually fall somewhere between the two.) Regular and first-time commenters have made this the must-read of the religious pros blogosphere. Read that while I get something together for your enjoyment.
PeaceBang’s Friendly Nemesis 

Slovak Lutheran preaching bands fabulousness

I wrote before that I was concentrating on lay-related matters for the next little while, with one noticable exception. This is it. I’ve made Geneva bands my schtick because it plays in so well with a gay male Protestant minister pun, and there aren’t a lot of those. You gotta use what you got.

When the Unitarian bishop of Transylvania and his assistant led communion at the 2003 UUCF Revival, I offered them the contents of my office closet (including what two past ministers left behind) for vesture: gowns, Geneva bands, and stoles. They only took the black gowns. As the Bishop put it, “we do not wear the Moses’ tablets.”

It seems bands are how you can tell a Transylvanian Unitarian from a Lutheran. A couple of weeks ago, for kicks, I decided to see what the Mittle Europa “Loo-trins” wear, ministerially. And I found them in Slovakia.

An English-language international church in Brataslava has a helpful page called “Things to know about Slovak Lutheran Liturgy” which includes details about the vesture:

  • black gown as used by the German Lutheran Church (academic robe from the 16th century worn by university professors) — called “luterák” (Luther Rock/Luther Skirt)
  • collar — two white-cloth rectangular strips symbolizing the two tables of the Decalogue — called “tablicky” (pronounced as “tublichky”)
  • white vestment worn over the gown on many occasions (by pastors only, not by chaplains) — called “kamza” (pronounced “kumzhah”)
  • stoles are not used, all robes are black-and-white

OK, there’s the reference to the tablets of the Ten Commandments again. Hmm. The gown is more like the cape like gown of the Transylvanian Unitarians, too. Has a nifty collar, too. I now want one. The kazma sounded nifty (and perhaps an alternative to cassock and surplice?) until I saw one. Looks more like a frilly duster of the kind that even my dear departed maternal grandmother wouldn’t wear.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Some event in 2005; you have to scroll a ways down.

Synod pictures from 2003, I think.

And then there are the pictures at the bottom of this page. Note that one minister is not dressed like the others. Purple shirt? Form fitting alb? No cape-gown, bands or duster. Obviously not from around there. She’s the Rev. Wilma S. Kucharek, the bishop of the US Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s Slovak Zion Synod, and I presume an honored guest. Kind of a shame that the ethnic vesture didn’t persist in the ELCA’s one ethnic synod.

Oh, and some Hungarian Lutheran ministers getting in on the fun. (See upper left hand corner.)

Beauty tips for the boys: eyebrows

The Rt. Rev. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury (picture), has been a disappointing leader for many of the world’s Anglicans, left and right. But I’ll leave it to the Episcopalians to give him a boot in the cassock, particularly his handling of bishops who meddle in others’ jurisdictions.

My beef with this learned cleric is a problem that comes to most men, but for which there is an easy solution.

Continue reading “Beauty tips for the boys: eyebrows”