You've probably already seen this, from last week:
"Casual Friday" has become a staple of American office culture. But what about "Casual Sunday"?
For decades, houses of worship have been consecrated by tidy congregations in their very best dress. Trim suits and ties pulled straight enough to choke the fidgety young parishioner were the norm, anything less being sure to draw the scorn of the flock.
But the culture has changed, and with it the Church. For some preachers and priests, word of this "new day" is written not in any holy book, but rather on the T-shirts young worshippers now wear to Sunday Mass.[...]
"I'll say it from the pulpit," Rev. Pilcher declares. "This isn't the camper's mass, this isn't the hunter's mass, it's the Holy Mass."
Speaking with Our Sunday Visitor, a religious publication, Father Pilcher described one uncomfortable showdown with a young woman and her family.
She had worn a "skimpy" dress to a church service. When asked, privately, if she would take a more conservative tack for future engagements, the woman angrily refused, citing other churches that had welcomed her particular style. The young lady's parents were soon in Father Pilcher's office, defending their daughter's right to bare arms, among other things.
"I asked them if it would be O.K. if I wore only a bathing suit with the right liturgical colors and thongs to celebrate Mass. But my argument didn't work," he said. Appropriate or not, the family held their line, inviting the pastor to do just that.
Typical Catholic blogosphere modesty article? Not really--this one was posted on the ABC News website, which makes it somewhat unusual.
Then there's this, today:
When San Jose (Calif.) Piedmont principal Traci Williams decided to actually enforce a longstanding ban on miniskirts at the school, her school wide dress-code sweeps found a very surprised target: The school's cheerleading squad. Now members of the Pirates' spirit team are facing a season wearing sweatpants under their uniforms during all school days to avoid violating the dress code, a measure that they're none too pleased about.
"Pockets are hanging out," Williams told the Mercury News of skirts that had been identified in recent clothing sweeps. "Cheeks are hanging out. We don't want them bending over."
While the cheerleaders feel the school administration should ease up on its enforcement of the rule, the Mercury News reported that plenty of other students had been sent into a special building until their parents arrived with a change of clothes, all because their skirts were deemed to be too skimpy.
The cheerleaders are mad that their $300 uniforms are verboten. But the school principle pointed out that a rival school's cheerleaders wore skirts that were at least mid-thigh, making them permissible under the dress code; the problem isn't cheerleader skirts, but cheerleader skirts so short as to be indecent. Which, again, is not exactly new--what is new is a school principle putting her foot down and demanding a change in the way students show up for school.
And students aren't the only ones facing dress code crackdowns; some teachers in Pennsylvania are, too:
Monessen School District in Washington County recently updated its dress code for teachers after an administrator said visitors had a hard time distinguishing between teachers and students. Many other district forbid teachers from wearing jeans, ball caps and revealing clothes to work.
"There are 501 school districts in Pennsylvania. I think there might be 501 policies on dress for teachers," said Steve Robinson, spokesman for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
Monessen Superintendent Dr. Cynthia Chelen said the school board maintained a longtime ban on flip-flops and sneakers but also ruled out golf shirts for men and sleeveless clothing for women.
"Things were starting to get a little too casual," she said. [...]
Although fashions come and go, Chelen said there should be one constant: Teachers should dress more formally than students.
In pondering the myriad modesty debates in the Catholic blogosphere, I've come to a conclusion of sorts. I think the real crux of the problem is what I just said above: the past few generations of adults have resisted to the hilt the idea that there is such a thing as adult clothing or that we should be bound by such a notion. Jen Fulwiler's recent article hints at a possible reason why; in our culture that celebrates recreational sex and worships youth as a prerequisite for sexiness, nobody wants to be told to dress, or act, our ages.
Look at the litany of clothing articles which keep getting mentioned as inappropriate for Sunday Mass: shorts, tee-shirts with inappropriate messages or words, spaghetti-strap tops or dresses, halter tops, exercise clothing such as sweat pants or yoga pants, too-short skirts or dresses, flip-flops, and so on. Now look at some pictures
Those are all articles of children's clothing from the 1940s and 1950s (similar to children's clothing of many earlier decades). Short pants, little strappy tops or dresses or halter sunsuits, obvious "playclothes," short little dresses designed to go well above chubby little knees for the child's ease of movement, soft, slipper shoes (which you can find if you browse the website above; it would take forever for me to link to all the pictures I liked!), sheer blouses and dresses designed to be work at the beach over a swimsuit--these were things that children wore.
Somewhere along the way clothing designers stopped making clothes for children and those for adults noticeably different. Now the tide is turning the other way, and clothes for children are being "tarted up" in ways they shouldn't be. But I really think the resistance to wearing nice clothing of even the business casual variety to Mass, to transact business in town, to restaurants that don't feature clowns and drive-thru windows started when people stopped wanting to grow up and take on adult responsibilities and adult lifestyles.
Alas, that's a problem that no amount of clever bulletin notices will fix.