Readers should take note when a biblical character is dressed to the nines.
This essay is the second in a two-part series on clothing in the Bible. You can read the first part here.
We turn to the Bible for guidance on many matters, but rarely for fashion tips. That’s because scripture doesn’t describe what folks were wearing in great detail, when it mentions attire at all. Yet it’s inaccurate to say clothing is irrelevant in these texts. On the contrary, it carries symbolic significance whenever it’s featured.
Some of your favorite Bible characters wear their faith on their sleeves.
After the 16th-century Council of Trent, all the readings and prayers for Mass had been collected in a single book called the Roman Missal.
Scripture is proclaimed on Sunday according to a schedule of passages called a lectionary. For Roman Catholics it is the Lectionary for Mass and for many other Western churches, the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL).
The God of our sacred story is always fearfully free.
Who is God for you? Probably not the deity to whom you were introduced in childhood. Nor the one whose contours you memorized in religious education. God is likely not the breathless mystery you consumed at first communion, the one that left you moon-faced and wide-eyed in resulting photos. God may no longer be the jigsaw puzzle of conflicting theological pieces you struggled to assemble in adolescence.
Hint: Families have never been just a mom, dad, and 2.5 children.
The fairy tale pushed by bedtime stories, Disney movies, and traditional values in general is that we grow up, find that special someone, marry, and have children. But as central as marriage and childrearing are, especially for Christians, as far back as biblical times families have always been about something more than the couple, their 2.5 children, and their family dog.
Why is it so hard to remember that coveting is one of the worst sins of all?
“Who’s your hero?” I asked the dozen faces in front of me. It was the first session of a new year of religious education. I like to shake up the kids with the idea that it might not be as boring as they’ve been dreading.
“John Green.” Really? An author can be a hero? If so, this could be an exciting year for me.
If we expect to keep it together when apocalypse hits, we’ll need each other.
Apocalypse is so in right now. It’s almost an essential part of the cultural landscape. It’s not just sci-fi that takes us into the realm where everything falls apart. Leave aside the inundation of serials concerning a future overrun by zombies, vampires, androids, and robots. We’re invariably given to understand it’s the horrible humans we have to fear.
It’s not only in Star Wars where men flake out and women hold firm—it happens in scripture, too.
I went to see The Last Jedi with some immature trepidation, since I’m more emotionally invested in this story than I should be, not being a teenager doing crappy cosplay before I knew cosplay was a thing anymore. For me, you see, the Star Wars epic is not just a story. It’s one of “my” stories—the stories I have carried with me and that helped shape my imagination, my sense of humanity, and my understanding of our relationships to the cosmos.
Religion historian Philip Jenkins believes the books of Wisdom and Maccabees can explain the origins of Christian beliefs about heaven and hell.
In the 1960s the Second Vatican Council proclaimed the central role of scripture in the life of the Roman Catholic Church and urged Catholics to become once more a people of the book. But as ordinary Catholics read the Bible more intensively, some were puzzled at the differences they found from Protestant and Jewish versions. Why do Catholic Bibles include texts such as Wisdom, Sirach, and the books of Maccabees, which other traditions treat as apocryphal? What kind of authority do they carry?
Follow Mary’s example and ponder God’s words wrapped in silence.
What does it mean to give your heart to a mystery? To fall in love with the silence that wraps around words and gives them context—like diamonds in their proper settings? On the first day of the year, we celebrate Mary’s determination to do that. It’s a countercultural choice.