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Thursday, 22 October 2015
Forces for Identity

Torah and Canon: 2nd Edition,
James A. Sanders, Cascade Books, 2005, page 51

Sanders identifies three forces that maintain the identity and cohesion of a religious community. Are you listening carefully?

... the three begin in English with the letter 'c': canon, calendar and clothes. A canon functions to tell a people, through periodic, annual recitation, both who they are and what they stand for, or how they should live no matter where they reside. A common calendar and distinctive clothes distinguish them from those among whom they live in dispersion. All three still function in the sme way in the Near East and elsewhere today. The clothes one wears in Jerusalem today are important to make clear who one is. This is the case with Jews, Christians and Muslims. Headware is very important in this regard whether it be kefias for Muslims or yarmulkes for Jews, or the distinctive mode of dress among orthodox Jews as to which rabbinical scholl they follow; and the brown robes of a Franciscan are easily distinguished from the ecru of Dominicans.

None of that should be taken to say that we in the west should necessarily adopt such clothes, but if a canon and a calendar are part of our lives, then our clithing - in terms of modesty, for example - would make us stand out from the crowd. Or perhaps that is the trouble - people don't want to stand out from the crowd?

Posted By Jonathan, 8:00am Comment Comments: 0