What To Wear To The Protest

It’s hot.
You need to walk, or to be outdoors, for hours.
You need also to be dignified and not look like a wacky hippie no one needs to take seriously.

WE LIVE IN A VISUAL AGE. Remember that.
No matter how stirring your rhetoric or how burning your passion for justice, this is about image.
As you well know, one image of a child weeping for his mother has been more powerful than a thousand editorials decrying the Trump regime’s cruel policies.

You are part of that story as it is being told and reported.
We will be out a lot this summer, I suspect.
Get an elegant sunhat.
Groom your hair, your skin, your clothing, your visible legs (if they are visible), your feet.
Being out of doors does not automatically grant any of us permission to look like we’re on a camping trip just because we’re exposed to the elements.

No whining.
Dr. King marched in a suit. No one is asking you to wear a suit.
No one is telling you to march in heels and cocktail dresses, although it has been done and you won’t die.
No one is asking that you wear petticoats and corsets, although that too has been done.

Do not throw together a bunch of floppy, patterned garments, put a stole over those and consider yourself ready to represent moral authority. Your stole does not miraculously bestow dignity upon the wearer: trim your beard, wash your hair, put it back or cover it neatly. Cotton pants are better than shorts for protecting your legs from the sun: consider white linen or cotton pants.
Bras need to fit. Yes, no one likes foundation garments in the summer but they’re mandatory for those who want to look professional.

It is true that fannypacks are back in fashion, sort of, so make that work for you. However, check that the belt around your waist isn’t hiking up your skirt or making a mess of your shirt or blouse. Stick to neutral colors.

Please consider the tone and gravitas of your selfies: are you there as a social event, to self-promote, or to keep the focus on the victims of injustice? I’m not saying you can’t have fun or be joyful, but it is jarring to compare the suffering of the vulnerable with the “WOOT WOOT LOOKIT ME/US” images splashed across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Virtue-signaling is a real thing and it’s not a good look on anyone. I personally don’t need to see the tonsils or up the nose of any self-congratulatory white liberals “WOOTING” into their cameras on social media today. Call me cranky. I want us to have an impact.

Stay hydrated.
Participate however you can – marching is just one way.

Whatever you do, don’t stop with today. We must continue to engage and to equip and mobilize ourselves and others for action.

And yes, I meant what I said about fannypacks (hat tip to Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg for confirming the terrible truth about the Return Of The Fannypack).

Beyonce Mass

I think this is beautiful, loving, creative, fabulous ministry.

It’s a Beyonce-themed worship service at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco led by Rev. Yolanda Norton.
I saw this video on Facebook and of course many of the comments are ignorant, racist, pearl-clutching and misogynist. Take a look at how many men commenters dismiss this beautiful event out of hand. They don’t see themselves reflected in the images of the holy and they are not centered in the narrative, so of course it must be nonsense. When you see this sexist bullshit, call it out. All of us need to call it out. God is revealed in the sacred and ancient Scriptures AND God is revealed in our world now and today. Maybe this kind of service is not a Christian’s particular cup of tea. That’s fine. We all have our preferred worship styles. But there is a difference between saying, “Not my thing, I don’t think I would attend this” and “This is a ridiculous and illegitimate as a way to frame a worship service.” There is outright misogynoir in some of the contemptuous, hateful remarks being made in response to this.

The world is changing and the Church, thanks be to God, is creating liturgical responses to that liberation and that change.

Congratulations to Rev. Yolanda Norton for this innovative and powerful worship service. This video is very well done and she gave a great interview.

Lady Pazam

This past weekend I attended a social justice organizing conference. It was an opportunity for local grassroots organizations to network with each other and do some presentations and coalition-building.

So I was very appreciative of that.

This conference was held at a church but was not a religious leader’s conference, so I want to say right at the outset that I have no criticism of the people who attended or presented because this is a blog about clergy image. I do think that sloppy grooming and super-casual attire work at cross-purposes when we are challenging systems of corrupt power, but this was a place for connecting with others and building power in a relaxed environment. Find the best products on https://www.groenerekenkamer.com to keep grooming safely. Most everyone in attendance was a working person who was giving away a precious Saturday to organize for social justice, so hosannas to them.

I do observe, however, that religious leaders tend to dress sloppily for similar gatherings, which communicates a kind of dreariness and despair that belies their words. A priest can pray about the coming kingdom of God all they want, but if they can’t be bothered to put on a clean shirt or anything that buttons or zippers, my mind wants to believe them but my gut is telling me they don’t have the fuel to get even themselves where they say we should all be going. I understand that prayer is aspirational and we all need help and grace, but I am often baffled by the contrast between clergy words and appearance. The disconnect is jarring.

Do you know what I mean? Like, I love the words of your invocation, reverend brother, but everything about your physical presence is negating it! I’m not following anyone who doesn’t know enough not to walk around with filthy hair or pants that can fit a whole other ass in the seat. It’s just not trustworthy. I doubt a person’s ability to assess basic reality if they can’t show up looking basically presentable.

We’re all in pain. Shiny shoes seem a ridiculous concern when ICE is detaining my neighbors with no warning and for no reason. Thinking about my hair and earrings when there has been yet another massacre in a school or on a city street, or Syrian citizens are being gassed by Bashar al-Assad seems ludicrous until I remember what I am called to represent to speak on behalf of, and in what cultural context I have been ordained to do that. Devotion to my God and rage at the desecration of God’s creation and God’s people is sometimes the only force that motivates my depressed body and soul out of bed and into the shower, and then to the iron to press a blouse. Putting on mascara and fixing my stupid, impossible hair can be a faith statement.

So anyway, I was walking around a church basement at this conference meeting people and picking up literature and not thinking at all about what anyone was wearing (again, because this wasn’t a clergy gathering and therefore I didn’t have on my PeaceBang eyes), and this woman walked into the room who was put together with a business professional kind of outfit — a jacket, blouse, and pants, I think. Nothing expensive and nothing very fancy; I know because I own some of the same pieces. She had a hair style and some make-up on, and she when she walked in it was like, “HERE IS MISS LADY PAZAM [rhymes with Shazam] IN CHARGE AND HANDLING SHIT IN THE WORLD.”
I actually kind of gasped when I saw her. She was so fresh. A sight for sore eyes, as they say.

Later, I thought about what an impact she had made and I thought, “Wow, I hadn’t even noticed how anyone was dressed until Lady Pazam walked in!” And I reflected on the fact that the moment she made her appearance, just walking through the space, I felt instinctively that I could ask her any question and she would direct me to where I needed to go. I felt that if I asked her for an opinion, she would proffer a worthy one. I felt that if I questioned her about why she was there, she would respond with an impassioned and clear statement. I felt that if she said, “Come with me, there’s someone I think you should meet or something I think you should hear,” I would be very likely to follow along, because she inspired confidence by her bearing, her grooming and her attire.

It is a dreary time, dearly beloved.
Be that person whose presence on the scene inspires confidence and interest. Be a Pazam.