Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What am I Wearing?

On Segullah, Kellie wrote about What Are You Wearing? …and that's what I'm considering.

The site name, "Segullah" – סְגֻלָּ֔ה – in the Hebrew Bible is a valued possession, a treasure.

What's my online brief "about me" ID these days? Usually something close to "life in beta—living baptized, bringing a vision of the New Creation, shattering stereotypes, scattering ideas … outsider theologian and insider designer: 'theology is my worldview; designing for the desert is what I do.'"

desert spirit's fire autumn 2011Remember "you are what you eat"? In many ways you are what you wear, at the moment you're wearing it and in the way your style often sums up a lot of your ethnic, class, economic, religious and other culture. Without much doubt your total style locates you at a time and place in history, within your own individual history and the history of your ethnic, class, economic, educational, religious (if any) and other (if any) groups. Aspirational? Sometimes! I've described my typical style as including and conveying hints of coastal, seashore, urban, retro, funky, casual, vintage, preppy, prairie… I love blue denim and more often than not I wear cargo pants or a short denim or skirt. I love hoodie sweaters and jackets; I love long skirts and long dresses, too. The color palettes of most of the clothes in my wardrobe are desert and beach hues: brights, pastels, or natural colours, never black, almost never darks. This is Southern California (didn't I mention coastal? and whenever possible I wear sandals instead of real shoes. After an African-American tradition, I always wear a silver bangle baptismal bracelet. I am what I wear: I am baptized; I am in Christ.

When I wrote about Ted Kennedy I said a little about what it means to live baptized, to wear your baptism. In that blog I explained,
baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we are dressed in forgiven, sinless righteousness and each of the baptized wears a baptismal calling to a life of justice, a call to a journey to the cross if – "when" – necessary; to speaking and acting prophetically against the political, economic, social and cultural establishments. In the Spirit God calls and enables us to talk the talk and walk the walk. Figuring out and discerning a specific career path can be tough, scary and difficult, but we all receive the same baptismal call to lives of justice and equality, to living the Magnificat… Luke 1:51-55
life stuff buttonBut unless I'm dressed for church or a rare out-to-dinner or party event in a favorite dress or skirt, I'm usually in casual clothes that probably are typical for this beachside coastal desert. After all, I'm a designing, urban Californian. I wear a silver bangle bracelet that constantly helps me remember "I am baptized." Baptized into a gospel without national boundaries, a way of being and of living that can be and needs to be contextualized into local culture and expressed in local spoken languages and ethnic (class, educational, aspirational…) accent. In scripture, the Pauline and especially the deutero-Pauline movement is not from a solitary, isolated atomized individual into an undifferentiated gather Body of Christ; it's from solitary, disconnected individuality to uniqueness and particularity within the gathered Body of Christ.

What does that mean? I can wear cargos and sweater, someone else can wear dashiki or dreads, a stetson or a kilt. Whatever we wear and however we live out our baptismal call to serve wherever we find ourselves, God's call and gracious invitation to help enact justice in the world, each of us brings varying abilities – "varieties of [practical, spiritual, intellectual, creative and lots of other] gifts" – for listening, for programming, for administering, for teaching for cooking or baking; all these have a place in some places, many of them in most places. Each of these needs to be spoken – contextualized! – with a local accent!

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