Friday, May 18, 2012

Modeling Fashion Passion for Preachers

Oh!  You've GOT to be kidding me!

This is way, waaayyyy too easy!

But hey - it's Friday!  We all need a good laugh every now and again, don't we?  Only, if you're like me, you can't laugh for long at this before you start shaking your head in disgust.

What is it?  It's the inimitable pastor Ed Young of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas.  And his latest endeavor for the Kingdom of God:  pastor fashion.

No, I kid you not.  Pastor fashion.  As in www.pastorfashion.com.

This is not a joke.  Well, OK, yes; it IS a joke, but not according to Ed Young.  The same guy that trotted out a caged lion for Easter Sunday services this year also thinks his peers in the pulpit set need a wardrobe consultant.  And he thinks he's the perfect guy to dispense fashion advice.

Hey - I can't make this stuff up.  The same guy I've faulted for prancing around in clothes that are too young for him now claims that the skimpy-suit, cuffed-jeans look needs to be taught along with the doctrine of grace.

Actually, I thought the doctrine of grace means we shouldn't be concerned about how we think other people look.  We're not to assume things based on outward appearances, because God looks at the heart, right?  To hear Young tell it, however, the right shirt colors, tie knots, and accessories are pretty important.  Of course, preachers of Young's ilk have been accessorizing the Gospel for years, so I guess this is the next logical extension of the seeker/contemporary mindset.

If you're gonna preach, you've gotta have swag.  Don't believe me?  Take it from the self-appointed expert:



In his defense - and yes, he's serious - Young told the Houston Chronicle that his latest venture is “not just about fashion. It’s about looking presentable as we present the timeless message of Christ. It’s about having a healthy self-esteem, which starts with God. That’s why we’re doing this.”

It could be said that the people who worry the most about their looks are the people who lack self-esteem.  Young's concern about appearance also lends significant - almost overwhelming - support to the practice of more liturgical churches like the one I attend, where the men who preach do so wearing a simple black robe over their clothing.  That way, distractions that may be caused by a curious shirt/tie combination or an ill-fitting suit are negated, and you find yourself concentrating very little on the preacher himself.  Which is a good thing, right?

Does Young even offer good advice on his site?  Not really.  A blue shirt he wears for a video - in which he touts his knowledge of matching colors with skin types - looks awful against his complexion.  A complexion which is tanned to perfection, which means a more pastel blue makes for a more complimentary shade.

In another video, Young raves about the white sportcoat being modeled by one of his fellow pastors, but the sportcoat's fit is abominable, with the lapels puckering outward as the garment is buttoned in the front.  Obviously, the back panels of the sportcoat have been taken in to within an inch of its life.  Young claims that if a sportcoat's fit is comfortable, it doesn't fit.  They're supposed to be tailored on the skimpy side, according to him, which is an absurd assertion - for anybody who has to spend time in a suit - to make.

Granted, my education in men's fashion took place decades ago at a proper gentlemen's clothier, which helps illustrate yet another flaw in Young's thinking.  For the most part, fashion is arbitrary, relative, subjective, and trendy.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is, thankfully, none of those things.  Yet there are some basics about fashion upon which most reasonable people generally agree.  So, as long as we're on the subject, here's what really works.

A good suit is a suit you're comfortable living in all day long.  Its jacket needs to be tailored to match the contours of your shoulders, back, chest, and belly.  Its pants should be lined to the knees, to maximize comfort around the crotch when you're sitting and minimize wrinkles, and its seat and waist need to have just the right balance between roominess and snugness.  A good-fitting suit is really a work of art, and depends more on the tailor than the fabric, which means they don't have to cost a king's ransom.  But of course, the better the fabric, the longer it will last.

Young is probably the first man I've heard complain about having too much fabric in his shirt sleeves.  That's probably because the guy works out, and he wants to show off the gain from his pain.  Real people appreciate the roominess properly-crafted shirt sleeves afford.  They shouldn't be flouncy like those girlie bouffant sleeves, but they should not constrain movement, either.  At least Young is right about sleeve length:  sleeves that ride up on the wrist look as uncomfortable as they feel.

And I'll go ahead and proclaim this truth:  there's no such thing as a short sleeved dress shirt!  Just as there shouldn't be any such thing as, frankly, PastorFashion.com.

Shouldn't congregations be more concerned about how the Gospel fits in their pastor's heart?  Here's a hint:  the Gospel should overflow from it, not fit nicely into it, like Young's wardrobe.

And if a congregation cares about how tight his jeans need to be, that pastor has far graver issues confronting him than which color of shirt to wear today.
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