Recently, I was told that wearing clergy attire was 'intimidating' to young people, and that we should drop it. I wondered aloud why young people would be intimidated by someone formally dressed when they simply don't see anyone these days who dresses well except for an occasional 'high social function.'
Yes, that's how I was raised, too. My first tie was clipped on for my senior picture, and I missed getting a prom tuxedo mostly because I was told by the Vice Principal not to come. I bought a coat and real tie in college because I was told the scholarship boards still expected it. As I sat waiting for my interview, all I could think about was how uncomfortable I felt in this wool bag.
It has gotten worse. The Older Generation are now made up of hippie survivors from the 1960's in a permanent state of
adult teenage rebellion. It is gross.
I did get a kick out of this:
So, why do people these days feel uncomfortable around those who are well-dressed? In my own case, the suit brings shame to the man who is not wearing one. The suit-less man is automatically pushed a notch down. People who dress well know this, and so they either dress down to make others feel less shame, or enjoy the pedestal.
Addicts often have a great deal of trouble adjusting to their true selves. They must learn to be comfortable with who they really are. Too often, an addict can be described as an egomaniac with an inferiority complex.
They see themselves as the perpetually out-of-place adolescent... and they often dress this way. The Casual Life enables people to cultivate the worst part of their nature... sloppy, careless, irresponsible.
If you want to help an addict, or fix your own attitude, just start by dressing better. Yes, that sounds rather vain, but how we dress really does effect how others treat us and how we see ourselves. The addict must learn to feel like a grown up if he wants to experience any kind of inner peace.
The truth is that all the aged men running around in shorts in public are just as likely to be popping anti-depressants and having stress problems as the rest of us. The 'relaxed attitude' is not a cure for the real problems of life. You can actually deal with your emotional problems wearing something other than a Hawaiian shirt in December.
I recommend that the newly sober dress well when attending 12 Step meetings. After all, you are recovering, right? Things are getting better? Then how come you still look like you rolled out of the gutter? If you are still dressing like a kid, then you bear the shame of your immaturity. Yes, being immature is shameful. There is nothing dignified about a toddler or a crazy teen.
Our casual world these days is rife with misery and addiction. There is no advantage to being a slob, but there are lots of advantages to looking like you have an ounce of self-respect. For one thing, it will help you get to the point where you have things about yourself that you can respect.
So, getting back to the beginning: if people are intimidated by a clergyman in his proper attire, that is the least of their problems. Those who serve the Church wear the prescribed attire of their office to help them remember who they are as well as clarifying to the public what they are doing. If someone is intimidated by a cassock or black clothing, then they need to be introduced to the real meaning of the garb rather than being allowed to shrink away in terror.
When there is a problem, you fix it. You don't just find ways to 'cope' with it, because the problem remains.