Friday, April 08, 2005

The Pope's Funeral and Headdresses

Like most of you, I’ve seen some of Pope John Paul II’s funeral. I have no commentary to add except this: the covering of the human head continues to be closely associated with religion. Millions of people around the world saw mourners, well-wishers, and world leaders attend the funeral. But the religious folk among the sea of humanity were easily identifiable by the turbans, skull caps, fezzes, yarmulkes, veils, scarves, mantillas, zucchettos, a tiara or two, wimples, and a variety of other headdresses donned by men and women. It is a common mistake to associate these articles of clothing with mourning and funeral rites, while in reality death is a reminder of the brevity of our lives and, therefore, the spiritual ride we’re all taking. We also saw beards, some long and shaggy, others clipped and shaped, another feature associated with religion, not to mention colorful and plain tunics, long thobes, aprons, and habits. It's hard to resist commentary: the modern insistence on separating attire from religious expression seems coerced and runs against thousands of years of established (but varied) spiritual ethos that guided men and women and what they wore on their bodies and faces. I'm not sure if my collection of baseball and golf caps counts.


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