UU Clergy and the Collar?

I’m curious, as UU clergy is it appropriate to wear the Roman Catholic Collar?  I saw several folks at GA who I know to be UUA ministers (although maybe they are dual fellowship Protestant but I don’t think they could be Roman Catholic as well) who were wearing them and checking out John Cullinan’s blog (who I am stoked will join our fantasy football league, hint hint) I see a picture of him with collar and am reminded of my question.  I found this short history:

Origin: "Originally," says the Reverend Henry McCloud in his book Clerical Dress and Insignia of the Roman Catholic Church, the Roman collar "was nothing else than the shirt collar turned down over the cleric’s everyday common dress in compliance with a fashion that began toward the end of the sixteenth century. For when the laity began to turn down their collars, the clergy also took up the mode."

… But that’s only half the story. The clergy also adopted the fad of lining their collars with fancy lace and needlework, which made them more beautiful but also more difficult to clean. So a third custom arose: covering the collar with a changeable sleeve of white linen to protect it from dirt. The modest-minded Pope Urban VIII banned the use of lace in 1624 … but he didn’t ban the protective sleeve. "Thus," McCloud says, "the narrow band of white linen used to protect the collar in the course of a few centuries became what is known today as the Roman collar."

In his essay on Why A Priest Should Wear His Roman collar, Charles M. Mangan states: "The Roman collar makes the priest available for the Sacraments (baptism, confirmation, eucharist, holy orders, matrimony, penance), especially Confession and the Anointing of the Sick (last rites), and for crisis situations."

The Roman collar was a Catholic invention.  The clerics mentioned in the above are Catholic ones. That is why McCloud entitled his book "Clerical Dress and Insignia of the Roman Catholic Church."  There is absolutely no way the Roman collar was a style many different religious groups used.  Those making this argument cannot produce the proof.


8 responses to “UU Clergy and the Collar?

  1. I believe your source is wrong in calling clerical collars (which is the name I know them by) purely a Roman Catholic thang. From what I recall, clerical collars weren’t invented until the 19th C., and Lutheran, Anglican/Episcopalian, and other Protestants wore them from the beginning. It’s definitely a Western Christian thing, but not exclusively Roman Catholic.

    As far as Unitarian Universalist clergy go, there aren’t too many restrictions on what we can wear (you just better be able to justify what you wear to your congregation!). The Geneva gown, and academic robes, probably lie at the center of our tradition. However, the Geneva gown comes from John Calvin and company, so some of us are a little creeped out by wearing one. As for academic robes, it fits with our vision of a learned ministry — but it’s also not exclusively clerical, it it?

    A year ago, I was lobbying for equal marriage rights in the California Assembly with some other UU ministers, some of whom were wearing a clerical collar. Compared to me in my conservative dark business suit, it was immediately obvious who they were, which seemed to me to be a really good reason to wear a collar. Hey, I could swallow my pride for the sake of marriage equality. Then, too, Meg Riley, in the UUA’s Washington office, has been known to wear a clerical collar upon occasion for the effect it has.

    Personally, I wear an alb on the rare occasions I do wear any kind of clerical dress, but that’s only because I’m too cheap to buy a new academic gown or pulpit robe, which can go for $600. I went to the used robe department of of this place in Boston (I’m not making this up), and they had a used alb for sixty bucks which fit me, so that’s what I bought. There was some story that it had belonged to a monk that had died. Some of us have real theology behind our decisions, some of us are just cheapskates.

    ((P.S. I can’t wait for the fireworks when Scott “Boy in the Bands” Wells finds the original post. Heh heh heh….))

  2. “The Collar”

    Radical Hapa has some questions about clerical collars, and notes my own picture on this site. A classmate of mine from Meadville’s MRP program also e-mailed me recently:

    I went to your site and saw that your picture shows you wearing what I only …

  3. As a UU headed for divinity school myself, I am reminded that we UUs borrow from all world religions as part of our living tradition, while maintaining that no one religion has a monopoly on truth, much less fashion. I like the idea of UU clergy claiming the clerical collar, and will wear one proudly myself if and when I’m ordained.
    Thanks Joseph for starting this interesting thread.

  4. Keeping things from me now? Y’all knew I’d find this thread, but really, I’ve said as much as I need to. Go to my blog and search for clericals. I’m just gratified others at GA are wearing them when not so long ago I was the only one.

    Clericals serve as a uniform, for all that worth and the trouble it causes. Some will, some won’t. Do note that all of the clergy of the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland (www.nspresbyterian.org) wear clericals. I suppose they’re more common where a uniform is more helpful. I only wear them when serving in a ministerial role.

    Oh, Dan, you know we act more like Calvinists — even if we might not believe like them — than just about anyone else. Proof: ask for a raise.

    Erik, I can’t even imagine what your gear will look like if pan-world-religionism is the appeal.

  5. If I join the UU Clergy (something that’s come up before), I’d need to look up what the Scots clergy wear… I wear a kilt much of the time anyways, and those robes… who would be able to see my knees?

    I found the linked article interesting, but the one-sidedness really got to me, as a UU. I read to the end and was left thinking “Alright… Would someone else like a go at this?”

  6. Funny, my garb has reminded some people of the Kirk. The first name-place name pun hasn’t been lost on a few people either.

    FWIW, I’ve never had a parishoner look at my skinny knees.

  7. for me clerical collar really helps minister do thier clergy work. When preaching, doing hospital vesitation and ministering to a house or a family. It identifies me of my calling. I am an Assemblies of God Pastor and I am proud of wearing my clerical collar.
    I suggest to all pastors to wear this collar not to be a catholic but to show to the people that we are the ministers of Christ called to do His will.

  8. I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I was talking with a Catholic friend of mine about going into ministry and whether I’d wear a collar, and she said, ‘Ah, man, you gotta wear the collar.’
    The NSPCI clergy do wear collars and I’m sure I’ve seen some Brits doing it too.
    I’m kind of caught between my instincts as an Anglo catholic and my instincts as a Quaker.
    I have a bad reaction to preachers wearing suits, they just look like tele-evangelists to me, urgh.
    I also have a BIG problem with academic robes. Much more than C/catholic robes. Catholic robes resignate a FUNCTION, whereas academic robes designate a STATUS. In my mind catholic robes point beyond themselves to the reverence of the worship, whereas academic robes are just saying ‘look at me, I’m dead clever.’
    So… big pretty robes…or jeans and a T-shirt…or…nothing? I dunno. I’m still thinking about this…

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