Dress Code for Pharisees
It's happening more everyday. I walk into class and at least one male student makes a comment--usually positive--about what I'm wearing. They don't believe me when I say, "Thanks." It seems a simple response isn't enough. They want some commentary about my clothes. So, this is what they get . . .
"In my day, a guy would never make a comment about what another guy was wearing. Girls, however, commented on girls fashion often. Is this another bit of evidence of the feminization of our culture?" [Read the article that came out last year, "The End of Men," in the Atlantic Monthly.]
"I don't care what you think--whether you like what I'm wearing or not" (usually said with a smiling smirk--but they still don't believe me).
"I've been wearing stuff like this for a long time" (in this case, a student thought I was being fashionable because I was wearing a v-neck t-shirt).
"I'm sorry. I don't understand."
I say that a lot. I really don't understand the interest--does it border on obsession?--with fashion.
I told my son about the time I was in San Francisco last year for the SBL conference. Twenty-somethings were lined up outside, on the sidewalk, with their tents and sleeping bags. I thought that, perhaps, I happened to walk by the Occupy Movement in San Fran. But, the crowd seemed too dressed up for such an anti-establishment cause. The next morning, they were still there, but the line was much longer. "I guess some concert is about to start soon???" After attending several sessions that morning, I walked by the crowd again. By this point, the line was two-blocks long. Curiosity got the best of me.
"Why are you all here?" A young lady dressed very fashionably said, "Versace is opening their new line today!" "You mean all these people have been waiting all night and day for that?" She, looking very quisically at me, said, "Of course."
My son wasn't surprised at all by the episode. I was incredulous.
I showed up recently in church wearing a suit and a tie. A friend asked, "What's the occasion?" I said, "Nothing." "Are you preaching somewhere?" I said, "No. Just wanted to wear this today." He quipped, "So, are you playing the role of the 'rich man' expecting to get the best seat in the house?"
All of this got me to thinking, "What would it take to dress like a Pharisee today?" Fine clothes? Rags? Suit and tie? Hoodies and torn jeans?
I don't know because I don't understand.