Thursday, April 26, 2012

Loose fit

Remember the fashion-religion seminars? Well, we move swiftly toward a product, thanks to the indefatigable work of my colleague O. My main contribution has become an essay, inspired by this brilliant product of our collage workshop. I think it's O's work. It made me remember that
 
Weber's "iron cage" (actually stahlhartes Gehäuse) developed from a piece of religious clothing, Puritan Richard Baxter's "cloak" (Mantel). "Keep [external] things loose about thee like thy upper garments," Baxter wrote in the XIIth part of The Saints' Everlasting Rest, "that thou mayest lay them by whenever there is need; but let God and glory be to next thy heart." I won't tire you with my cute but convoluted argument, such as it is, but here's the rather oracular conclusion:

In the secular age, an age in which fashion can seem to promise salvation, people wear their religions loose about them, like an upper garment that they can lay by whenever the need arises. They are not the less religiously serious for committing to their beliefs and practices in this way. They are aware, as few in history have been, of the contingency of their religious wardrobes, appreciating classic styles as well as the novel, the exotic, even the playful; aware of the dangers of the steely shell, they mix and match among them. And they are grateful for religious couture which can serve as a sign of true seeking.

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