31 March 2008

Book, Unrecommended: Secret Keeper

(Disclaimer: This is not in reference to any church in particular. It happens everywhere.)

Pastors are in a bad spot when it comes to 1 Peter 3:3-6. They can't tell the girls in their confirmation classes to put more clothes on, because what kind of perv would notice that the little dears are dressed like streetwalkers? And I also can't exactly go up to someone and request that their daughter throw on a sweater over her skintight, lowcut, spaghetti strap suspended top on account of my husband has to look down it every time she skips up to our Lord's altar in the classy getup. I attended a Lenten supper a while back put on by a certain group of youngsters, and I wasn't sure if I was at the parish hall or Hooters. This is not a stable environment for the perpetually parturitional or postpartum Frau Pastor who worries constantly (and needlessly, I know) about her husband not having a properly proportioned wife waiting for him at home.

So anyway. I found this cute little book and hoped that it might be of some use as, perhaps, supplemental reading for 6th commandment studies or a confirmation gift to a female catechumen. But the scandal of Lutheran particularity reared its predictable head, because of course it's full of smarmy evangelical theology and piety. Eg, Lift up your arms like you're totally rocking out in worship!!!!!! If your stomach shows, quit dressing like a ho!!!!!!!!!!! Awesome!!!!!!!! (My memory may be colored slightly by annoyance with the disorienting graphics and pullquotes, and hip punctuation.) One anecdote told the thrilling tale of a girl accepting Jesus while on the phone with someone who discerned via what she had said about chaste dressing that she wasn't a Christian. Bottom line: I bought and read this so you wouldn't have to.

But what to do? The papists have resources along these lines, but their stuff is also always reliably packed with doctrinal propaganda. I have zero confidence in Our Beloved Synod's youth resource providers to come up with something useful in this regard based solely on the promo pics that turn up in our mailbox for the youth gatherings ("Yeah huh Lutherans are too young and hot, and it would be totally Law-oriented not to show it off, which is the only thing we know about being Lutheran!"). And Higher Things, while having much to recommend it, also patrols close to the antinomian border of the Lutheran neutral zone that is personal piety. I can't help getting the impression sometimes that the only sin they're really that worried about is contemporary worship--have these people forgotten how teenagers think?

It would be silly of me to imagine that there's a CPH contract for someone in this somewhere . . . but I sure wish there were. In the meantime I'll take smug comfort in the knowledge that only my Pietism is showing.


Reb. Mary said...

One of the first items Rev. Husband solicited donations for after we arrived here was new acolyte robes--now at least the acolytes are decent. But still. The outfits I see marching up to the altar are really disturbing. I'd say we're getting old...but...I know I would never have been allowed out of the house, much less to church, looking like that, even if I'd wanted to.

Anyone know anything about the LFL resource on the topic? Your post brought it to mind; I've never looked into it farther than this : http://lutheransforlife.org/Catalog/family_living_(C).htm#Dressing_for_Life:_Secrets_of_the_Great_Cover-up

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

I sincerely believe that our synod is suffering from the effects of not having good a theology of the body. As you said, it is practically antinomian - and its failure to look beyond the surface on issues such as fertility and birth control, breastfeeding, marriage (doesn't get much deeper than "don't get divorced"), and modesty -- both in body and in choice of entertainment etc. are all related. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, why can't we discuss how that temple is to be treated??? We forsake Christian wisdom under the guise of "Christian freedom."

I am frustrated that I had to go to Catholic resources to grow in these areas..and had to creep around what was their theology and what was in fact wisdom.

And maybe the fact that we are shrinking as a denomination has as much to do with the fact that we aren't giving birth to Lutherans as much as it does with being "culturally relevant enough."

Kelly said...

A note about the papists - while they may have published more on this topic than we have, I can say with certainty that their enforcement isn't any better.

We went to a quinceanera Mass this weekend, as we were the jewelry godparents again. There is a part during this particular Mass where the birthday girl renounces sin, the devil, and the seductions of the world. As she answered the priest "Si, renuncio" (I do renounce them), I couldn't help but be struck by the fact that the dresses she had chosen for her girlfriends "standing up" for her, were short, back-baring, and with a deeper V in the front than anyone should ever wear - much less 15 year old girls.

When my mom was growing up, also in the RC church, the time was the priest wouldn't commune you if you didn't have something, even a Kleenex, on your head as a chapel veil. Apparently that is the case no longer!

mietzner said...

amen. i think you should pursue this CPH contract.

Rebekah said...

RM--I have looked through that one. I don't have any major objection to it, although I thought the hokey factor was a little high which is always risky with the youngsters these days. But Bible studies are a hard sell around here and I seriously doubt I could round up the mother-daughter set for a 10-session commitment.

RPW, I had occasion to ask Dr Lamb a few years back if contraception were on LFL's radar screen--he gazed off and said that they considered that the business of the theologians. I sympathize with the dude--can you imagine a faster way of losing LFL support than for them to start telling people to toss their pills? But it is beyond sad that all these related questions aren't/can't be treated organically in our circles.

Kelly--I'm told that in the farthest fringes of LCMS crazies the mantilla is alive and well. Having hair off the agenda would make my Sunday mornings easier . . . .

Mietzner, my understanding is that the easiest way to get a CPH contract is to have a friend who works there. Love that LCMS meritocracy.

Reb. Mary said...

Yeah, I'm afraid that kind of Bible study commitment wouldn't fly around here either, alas.

We've been in touch with Dr. Lamb too--among other things, asking whether LFL actually stands behind its position statement (buried on their website) that the Pill may be abortificient. (And if so, whether there was any intention of better publicizing this). He's been very gracious, and I can sympathize with his position too, but no real results forthcoming. (Actually, once he mentioned that they were sort of waiting on the LCMS report on contraception--you know, the one supposed to be out last July--so don't anyone be holding your breath here, as we all know about what to expect from that).

And that's the sort of polite resistance to a topic that I would consider to be less controversial than the idea of contraception itself...yeah, we're a long way from being able to consider these things as the organic whole that they are.

RPW is right on about our woeful lack of distinctively Lutheran theology of the body. One More Soul, for instance, has some great resources, but hardly anything that can just be handed to the average layperson.

Sandra Ostapowich said...

Actually, I have written and submitted an article to Higher Things magazine about the topic of modesty. It was received just when the last issue with a similar article was published so I'm told it should show up in an issue in the near future. Stay tuned!

Gauntlets said...

The thing that interest me about this cute little book is the cute little journal and cute little pencil and cute little DVD that get sold alongside. Considering how much they rake in for this stuff, the authors seem disingenuous as they lay it on my heart.

I'm probably just jealous I didn't think of it first.

We're just starting the brainwashing young. GirlOne knows just what to think upon seeing a bared midriff: ugly.

Lutheran Antinomianism: I'm amazed at the number of Lutherans I know that were not taught and do not believe that the Resurrection is of the flesh, not just the spirit. They see the pearly gates and the pretty white robes and the wings. They can't see that their bodies now are eternal forever, that what they do now counts for something unto life everlasting. When their view of the afterlife as a purely spiritual adventure is challenged they get downright angry, even as they believe that their scarred up flesh will be made new in the blessed coming of our Lord. And I'm just baffled. What's to become of us?

Rebekah said...

TOTALLY LAW-ORIENTED, GAUNTLETS. Where does the Bible say you shouldn't wear a bikini?

Our brainwashing program relies heavily on the term "meretricious" so that diagnoses can be made in public. 5-yr-old girl is good, but 3-yr-old boy is a true mullah in training. He often condemns women in magazine ads for the use of lipstick.

Lynet said...

Have you seen this site?

Gauntlets said...

Yeah, we tried the code words for public discussion but we're not as classy about it as y'all. GirlOne is very . . . what's the word . . . vehement? in her disapproval and doesn't waste time messing around with code. Like the time a little thing went flouncing past us at a restaurant and GirlOne pointed boldly while announcing, "Mom, that girl looks like a prostitute!"

Ha ha. Yeah. Good times, that.