Daily Archives: October 6, 2009

The Annual Mantilla Discussion.

While the lay female Catholic blogosphere begins to spiral into the annual discussion of whether or not one should wear head coverings in church, I answer, “Of course, if one has a cute winter hat like mine. You can wear it at work also, and everywhere else outside the home. Spread the cuteness!”

And as we begin the new offshoot discussion of whether or not one should wear head coverings at home to pray (mostly because the Anchoress does it, though I’m sure there’s plenty others), I say that this is obviously a valid but non-standard way to go about Christian prayer as a woman. In both the Eastern and Western traditions, you don’t wear hats and head coverings at home, unless you are expecting guests for dinner or your house is really cold inside. My apartment generally has adequate central heating, so I don’t wear a nightcap when I sleep or a hat when I’m inside. If I wore a hat all the time, I’d wear it when praying, too. But I don’t.

I’m not really a romantic at heart, you see. Not really. I’ve worn a headrail and two layers of dress 16/7 during the height of summer and in the chill of night in the mountains, and that teaches you to think of such things as functional sun-guards and head-warmers, and secondly as fashion semantics statements. They do not keep you from being distracted. (Well, maybe they do you, but not me!) They do not wrap you up like a precious gift. They do not veil you like a monstrance. They are clothes.

(And I’m really glad I was in a medieval recreation group from before lace, because lace not only snags instantly when I touch it, but gives me hives if it’s made of nylon. We will say no more, because there were lacemakers and people who did tatting in my family and they will kill me for disrespecting their craft. Fear the crafters!)

The ancient tradition was to wear head coverings in church to maintain certain formality levels, so that we don’t presume too much on the fact that it’s the family house of our clan, the clan of God. We wear them for the sake of the non-adopted people in the house — and our family friends and bodyguards, the angels — instead of going bareheaded like a woman in her own home with nobody but family. We don’t wear our pjs and fuzzy slippers to church, either.

Everything else is a happy pious thought. And of course, it’s not bad to have happy pious thoughts, or individual prayer techniques and devotional practices. Half of the coolest stuff we have started as happy pious thoughts. And not everybody thinks that you wear a linen headrail in summer mostly because linen is incredibly slow to dry, especially after you dunk it in that nice cool Pennsylvania crick in back of the woods campgrounds and make your head happy.

But I just can’t see substituting “this is the way I think of it” for “actually, this is what it says in scripture and tradition”. (Also, no creepy stuff about angels falling for the children of men because of their hair. The Byzantines only thought this way because they had eunuchs and creepy stereotypes about them.)

Y’all do what you want, of course.

What is freaky is that we women actually tend to care what other people think about this stuff. Parenting posts get very strange when mothers actually worry about what Mrs. Q down the street says she does with her little Johnny and that they aren’t being good mothers because they don’t do the same. Unless I paint myself blue and show up to cantor, I’m fairly sure nobody in my parish cares what I wear on my head. Only on the Internet do people make comments about this stuff.

(Okay, maybe a giant bandage would get comments. Or something super-cute, like my new winter hat. But other than that, no.)



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My New Cute Winter Hat

Mwahahaha! I forgot to say that I found a nice winter hat this weekend. It’s basically a sort of woolly (acrylic) knitted beret or snood, except that… it has a visor brim like a fisherman’s cap!

I don’t actually think this would work for _deep_ winter, but for early and late winter, it should do fine. Also, it actually threatens to approach fashionability and cuteness, which are good for shock value when found on me. 🙂

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Really Alternative Lifestyles: Relics of St. Therese Edition

Via Intentional Disciples, a hilarious/saddening link to a column decrying St. Therese’s relics.

It would be a lot better for UK people like this columnist if they’d just admit to themselves, “Why, yes, deep down I’m a little bit anti-Catholic, as I was programmed by the Elizabethan and later propagandists to be. Whenever this sort of thing comes up, I’m bound to be a little irrational about it, because I’ve been taught to get the heebie-jeebies about it.” Admitting such biases up front is a columnist’s bread-and-butter, even.

Instead, the columnist is clearly helpless to understand why, after being exposed to countless religious scams promising miracles for money while doing a documentary on such things, she would be most offended by a bunch of old bones in a box which anyone can approach, for free. No prerequisites except waiting in line. No demands that people do anything in response. If this thing is really not holy or unholy, there’s absolutely nothing to worry you about it. It would be no more meaningful than visiting bones in the British Museum. So why does she worry?

Then she admits that what put her totally up in arms is that this free thing is being brought, for free, to criminals in a prison. Horrors. Prisoners, who don’t have all that much to do, and for whom anything odd and new would clearly be a godsend. Even to atheist prisoners, this is something to talk about and rip on, so there’s something for everybody. But she’s horrified.

Not horrified by Muslim terrorists or Christian cultists “sharing” their twisted version of faith. Not horrified by all the rough stuff that goes on in prison, or by people caged like animals.

Disgusted and terrified by harmless old bones in a gold box.

Yeahhhhhhh. This is all about rationality. Surrrre.

So once again, we see that the way to truly shock and offend people, and to live a counterculture lifestyle that freaks the mundanes, is to do normal Catholic stuff in public or private. Heh.

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