Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Costly Apparel

The insightful Ramsay MacMullen in his book, The Second Church (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009), 107-108 talks about the struggle between the clergy and the laity in the early Christian Church:
Individual bishops forbade the adoption or advertising of martyrs unlicensed; new ones went on appearing. The authorities also showed their hostility to traditional forms of worship: you shouldn't dance, as only the heathen did; or you should do so, but only shuffling your feet a little; you shouldn't make it a party, or sing too loud, or throw happy glances about, and you certainly shouldn't have enough wine to affect your behavior. . . . If it was a dinner put on for religion, then--no interrupting, nor arguing or rude words, no reaching around the table, and always, modest portions. Leave a bit on the plate. A Christian also would be well advised to avoid memorial picnics for the dead--this, a real problem, given the universal importance of the rites and their deep roots in people's feelings and traditions. The proper manners were thus taught to you by your betters, whose manners at their own dinners were so different and whose clothes made you ashamed of your own.
Shades of 1 Nephi 13:8-9:
8 And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and the fine-twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable church.

9 And also for the praise of the world do they destroy the saints of God, and bring them down into captivity.