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What is it about clergy collars?

What is it about clergy collars?

The Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford, Unitarian Universalist minister blogs at Boots and Blessings on what happened when she wore a clerical collar:

When I was doing my required unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), my supervisor suggested that any of us who came from traditions where a clerical collar was an option, take one “collar week,” to see how we were treated, as opposed to wearing regular professional clothes.

After a couple of days, I joked to the Catholic priest, “How do you manage the power?” In regular clothes, I would walk into a patient’s room, and it would take about 5 or so minutes of introductions and pleasantries before we could really get down to talking about their feelings, their fears, the deep stuff.

So, It Developed Into A Spiritual Practice.

The spirit was willing, but the self-consciousness made me weak. It’s just so much easier to be invisible. I’d go out sporadically, have an experience that made me mentally promise to be more regular about it … but life just keeps happening, busy schedules, things to make happen, ministry to do …

Read more about her observations on wearing a collar here.

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Rod Gillis

Re Jason Wells, sure enough. My point was do exactly that, offset an argument in favor of clerical collars with “on the other hand”.

I guess the only qualification I would add is, that while the stories about the pro and con cancel one another out, the wearing of clerical collars, especially by Anglicans, is well entrenched. We do love our haberdashery.

Jason Wells

“For every anecdote about how a clerical collar opens up a conversation there is a countervailing anecdote about how clerical garb puts up barriers and plays into stereotyping.”

If the stories are so evenly matched, could we then agree that The Collar is a matter of adiaphora, which each clergyperson is free to wear or dispense with as he or she sees fit?

Jason

Rod Gillis

Re Marshall Scott noting that laity can be as “clericalist” as any cleric. I agree. All the more reason to avoid stereotyping and mitigate transference by not wearing one. Anglicans are among the hospital chaplains here who do not wear clerical collars. A Collar is not essential to a liturgical tradition.

Note what is said in the precis of the article.

” After a couple of days, I joked to the Catholic priest, ‘How do you manage the power?’ In regular clothes, I would walk into a patient’s room, and it would take about 5 or so minutes of introductions and pleasantries before we could really get down to talking about their feelings, their fears, the deep stuff.”

I get the sense the get up is the power game? The first few minutes of a pastoral conversation are crucial. Who knows how the “deep stuff” of the conversation might have gone if it started off on a different footing. Maybe the “deep stuff” was filtered through a reaction to a collar. Better to take time and talk with people than looking for a clerical express lane that may end up a dead end.

For every anecdote about how a clerical collar opens up a conversation there is a countervailing anecdote about how clerical garb puts up barriers and plays into stereotyping.

Marshall Scott

Clerical collars = clericalism? I hope not. And, too, my experience is that lay persons can be as “clericalist” as any cleric.

Most of the chaplains in my health system don’t wear clericals, either; but, then, most of them aren’t from liturgical traditions, and even some who are aren’t ordained. I always wear clericals. I’ve shared why here, so I won’t expand in this reply. However, my reason is reflective of her experience. It is a public expression not only of my faith, but also of my representation of a community of faith. I think we need more such expressions.

That’s not without its hazards. I often enough enter a room, and based on the reaction of patient and/or family start with “Don’t panic!” On the other hand, I’m not confused with a doctor or nurse or other professional. Most folks know when I walk in what part of their care I speak to, even if the don’t know how.

The collar is a tool. It is, by and large, a good tool. It presents to the world visible reminders that I and folks I associate with believe. Considering how many folks there are out there who are “not religious” and still want to be “spiritual,” I think there’s plenty of room for that.

Rod Gillis

Hmmm …wasn’t there a rather voluminous thread about this subject on episcopal cafe not all that long ago?

Clerical collars = clericalism.

Most of the hospital chaplains here don’t wear them. But if you go in for transference, clerical get-ups are all the rage.

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