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Sunday, 30 August 2015

If ONLY Clothes Made the Man! Gotta See a Man About a Cassock

(I say "if only" because I have one, and if it had superpowers, I'd gladly give it away.)

This is really quite fascinating, a writer, in Esquire Magazine, puts on the "uniform" of different occupations, and discovers that, if the cassock only change him a bit, it certainly changes the people around him.

A quibble -
The salesclerk was a former Dominican priest. There is fashion among the priests, he said. It's rare for an American priest to wear a cassock outside the church. But, he said, it's becoming more common: "It used to be considered a little vain. But you go to the seminary now and young priests insist on the cassock. They're more conservative and they want to be seen as committed."
He thought I could pass. "Just look like you're going somewhere on church business."
At that, the third-generation owner of the store stepped out of her office to tell me that she disagreed. "No priest would wear that in public."
Ummm... I'll grant her, it's rare most places in this country, but the trouble is, this was done in Chicago, one of the few cities where you actually can see such a thing, and the man doesn't have to be from the Eastern Churches.
Generally, when you wear a uniform, no one will touch you. Except the priest. People will touch a priest. On the wrist mostly. It happened to me twelve times, just a tap in the middle of a conversation. An assertion of connection, an acknowledgment of some commonality I could not fathom. Weirdly, the priest's outfit was the most physically demanding uniform to wear. All day with the hugging, and the kneeling to speak to children, and the leaning in for the selfies....
 sweeping the city with the hem of my cassock hither and yon was more like being a beautiful woman than it was representing myself as a celibate guy who lives in a two-room apartment in Hyde Park. I'm telling you: People lingered in their gaze, without lust. I was a fascination, looked at fondly so many times that fondness itself seemed the currency of the world to me. It made me like the world better....
People want to believe.  Especially people in need. All day long, I was faced with homeless men, homeless families, crouched in the street. Sometimes they reached up to me, touched my wrist. Twice I was asked for a blessing that I could not give. Not in the way they wanted. I started wishing that I were capable of performing a service for the world. And I found I could not do nothing. The uniform comes with some responsibility; otherwise, it is just a party costume. I started kneeling down, holding out a ten-dollar bill, and saying, "I'm not a priest. But I feel you." And I couldn't do it once without doing it a couple dozen times....
It's easy to put on a cassock. And it's really not easy to wear one at all.

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