Thursday, April 08, 2010

To Collar or Not

I have been thinking about clerical collars all week -- since I met a delightful retired Methodist minister who wears one. She has an educational therapy center in Loganville and although she's been retired for several years, she wears one to the center every day.

Now, I think she's been clergy for a very long time. In fact, I think she's one of the first in our conference. I can understand wearing one to be set apart -- to signal to people who and what she is, especially seeing that many years ago, women clergy were an odd beast. It would be rather like a college prof wearing a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches, a little bow tie and smoking a pipe. Or like the receptionist at a doctor's office wearing scrubs. A sort of "unofficial" uniform.

I purchased one on a whim a couple of years ago. The shirt fit like a tent, so I have altered it a bit. I wore it once to the hospital (a Catholic one, at that -- and on purpose as a "statement") and I've worn it at a funeral where I needed to set myself apart without wearing robes. I found it grotesquely uncomfortable. I've noticed some Methodists wearing them. I will admit that at first I found it an affectation. We are not terribly a formal institution; more "fellowship-y" than that.

But meeting that clergywoman last week had me thinking -- I did indeed unconsciously view her somehow *differently* because she was wearing that collar. It was a comfort to me, oddly enough. Otherwise, I would have just viewed her as another LOL (little old lady). Perhaps that is the reason I've seen so many women wear the collar in my denomination. I know I acted differently and people re-acted differently to me as I wore one. In a way, I didn't like it -- I didn't LIKE being set apart. I like being "one of the guys." But ... I am indeed set apart. Perhaps it would be a good reminder to me of that. And the uncomfortableness would be a part of it.

Just thinking....

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