Sunday, June 24, 2007

On Clothing, the Lack Thereof, and Time

Here I am at nearly 3:00 o'clock on a Sunday morning, and I'm finally printing out my sermon.

No excuses; maybe just a comment or two while the old printer works.

My texts deal with Christ's freeing of the Gerasene demoniac in Luke, and the freedom we have in Christ in Galatians. It struck me that both texts dealt with being clothed after being ill-clothed, inadequately clothed, or, in the demoniac's case, not clothed at all.

And it came to mind that I'd recently read a column by Suzanne Fields, about a nude bike ride a couple weeks ago, ostensibly held to protest global warming and automobile emissions (never mind the sort of emissions that pollute the air when they're not caught by one's clothes!). Seemed like something I could take off on (sorry), to show how people who equate nudity with freedom are only deluding themselves.

But when I brought the column up on line, I was disappointed. I'd forgotten that Ms. Fields had only used the protest as a jumping-off point for the sorry state of British society (a little misapplied, since this nude bike ride took place not only in London, but all over the world). And I'd forgotten that the statements that got me thinking there might be a connection were in the comments, and weren't exactly as I'd recalled.

Nevertheless, the misguided theme of nudity-as-freedom was there. So I Dogpiled the subject (you can Google, I'll Dogpile) to see what the promoters of this demonstration say for themselves. On the home page of the Chicago site I was greeted by a cartoon of a simpering modern-day Lady Godiva making do with a bicycle for a palfrey and wearing nothing but three strategically-placed little hearts and a tattoo or two. And to my grim amusement, under her image the legend declared, "Protest oil dependency and showcase your gorgeous self love."

I think they meant "self-love," but the kicker was this: Above her was the title of the event, and writhing out of one of the i's was a veritable serpent, with an apple in its mouth, offering it to the naked cycling lass as to a new Eve!

You silly idiots! Giving into that ancient serpent and his bloody offer is why we have to wear clothes in the first place! That and our "gorgeous self love"! If you really want to "get back to the Garden" (as the song "Woodstock" puts it), it ain't gonna happen by accepting more produce from talking snakes!

Of course, I couldn't put that into my sermon. The "self love" motto, yes, but not the cartoon. Churchgoing people spend all week watching who knows what on the TV and at the movies, but heaven forfend the preacher should admit on Sunday morning to having seen an informational site with naked people on it! Oh, yeah, we're supposed to guide people through the hard-hitting realities of this fallen world, but we're to do it in total unawareness of those realities ourselves!

Not that I believe we should go out and sin on purpose, as some people advocate, to appreciate what Jesus has saved us from. And if a nude cyclist protest was ever held here in the Valleys, I would stay safely indoors with my curtains drawn.

Not that I fear so much falling prey to the sin of lust. No, I'm too liable to the sin of derision and disdain. Most people's bodies simply will not stand public exposure.

What's the other comment? Oh, that I have a sudden paranoia that the church where I'm preaching tomorrow may have changed their hours for the summer. Not that they ever told me they had. But a year ago at this time, another church in the same presbytery just happened to forget to inform me they were starting an hour earlier, and only the fact that I arrived thirty minutes before what I thought was the correct hour got me there in time to deliver the Gospel reading and the sermon. Then guess whose fault it was?

Happily, I have my contact elder's home number, and can call her in the morning to make sure.

Meanwhile, I need to iron my preaching dress before I retire for such sleep as I'm going to get. Otherwise, I will be improperly clothed!

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