Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Religious Dress

Many faiths have associated manners of dress. Turbans and skullcaps, robes and stoles, many forms of clothing express the values or traditions of people of faith. What, then, is Quaker religious dress?
The Quaker faith is practical while being mystical; it is grounded in ordinary life and community, while it reaches to comprehend the divine. We seek to do good in the world with our hands, not just our words and our beliefs. We celebrate the equal standing of all people, and the availability of the divine to all. Our faith does not seek to glorify itself with worldly trappings, but to glorify the world by hard work.
True religious dress for a Quaker, then, is that which is practical. It is that which serves its goal most effectively without ostentation – except where that purpose requires ostentation. The world being what it is, sometimes it is necessary to dress to impress, but only in a good cause.
Religious dress for a Quaker does not attempt to set any above others. It does not say “this one is closer to God”, or “this one has greater social status”. Yet it does not seek uniformity, as we are each different, and that difference it precious.
Religious dress for a Quaker does not attempt to stand out. After the traditional dress of our forebears came to do so, it was set aside. Our work is in the world, and so are we, and we should not attempt to suggest, even by clothing, that things are otherwise.
Religious dress for a Quaker is economical and ethical, but achievable to each person by their means. It balances different concerns by the conscious effort and faithful discernment of each of us.
Religious dress for a Quaker is individual and expressive, allowing each to be true to their nature and their connection with the divine.
Religious dress for a Quaker is a means to an end, not an end in itself. As the ends vary, so must the clothes.
Written January 2017
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