White shirts, Sacrament meetings and Dress standards?

Don - February 21, 2006

Boy did John catch some flak today at our High Priest’s meeting.

Here he is a former 2nd counselor in the Bishopric wearing a blue shirt to church.  It turned into a feeding frenzy – everyone had to give John a bad time about wearing a blue shirt to church.  Of course they all ignored David who hasn’t worn a white shirt to church in 30 years.  John of course defended himself by telling us it was the only clean shirt he had, and he did have a nice tie on.  But the wrath of the quorum was upon him.

What’s the deal with this?  Our Stake President has asked us to wear white shirts, especially for the young men administrating the Sacrament.  But I think we have taken this too far.  You can always spot the non-member / investigator at church, they’re the ones in jeans and a shirt, or some casual atire.  They must really feel uncomfortable coming in and seeing our "Sunday dress".

What’s wrong with relaxing the "rules" and letting women come in slacks, men in casual shirts and no ties?  Does that really take away from our worship?

I really appreciated Wade’s comment in H.P. quorum when he said "We should be more conserned that we are white on the inside, not our blue shirts on the outside."

69 Comments »

  1. Are you asserting that the only reason we are supposed to dress non-casual is because it’s a “rule” ?

    Comment by Ben S. — February 21, 2006 @ 1:35 pm

  2. Why are we even talking about shirt color in church?

    This is the great advantage to living in the East… nobody cares what color shirt you wear (at least in my ward).

    Ben,
    What are you suggesting?

    Comment by Rusty — February 21, 2006 @ 1:58 pm

  3. What a bunch of nonsense.

    Comment by Chris Williams — February 21, 2006 @ 2:10 pm

  4. In our ward, no one can pass the sacrament without a white shirt and tie. I was once asked by a deacon to help out with passing and was told by a member of the bishopric to sit back down because my shirt was blue.

    Oh, and Typepad doesn’t seem to recognise http://www.ourthoughts.ca/ as a valid URL.

    Comment by Kim Siever — February 21, 2006 @ 2:23 pm

  5. It’s important to crap on people for their shirt color.

    Comment by D-Train — February 21, 2006 @ 2:36 pm

  6. I think dressing more casually would harm our worship experience for the month that it would take for everyone to relax.

    Comment by D-Train — February 21, 2006 @ 2:37 pm

  7. I really don’t feel real strongly about this, but just to throw something else in the mix…

    Sacrament meeting is a meeting where a priesthood ordinance is going to be performed. The chaple is supposed to be a holy place. Should we not make an effort to be at our best under such circumstances? Our best will often be defined by cultural standards which in our day in North America will typically mean white shirt and tie for men.

    I do not feel we should take this as a strict rule and make people feel less worthy because of this. But under such circumstances I want to be at my best, whatever that is thought to be by local leaders.

    Comment by Eric — February 21, 2006 @ 2:39 pm

  8. Taken care of Kim. Thanks for the heads up.

    Comment by Rusty — February 21, 2006 @ 2:39 pm

  9. Eric,
    I agree with everything you just said except your last sentence: “I want to be at my best, whatever that is thought to be by local leaders.”

    “My best” and “whatever that is thought to be by local leaders” are sometimes two different things. I actually think a nice striped blue shirt with my striped suit and a solid tie is “my best” more than a short sleeve white shirt with a paisley tie. White doesn’t make it “my best”, thoughtful and well coordinated more often does.

    Comment by Rusty — February 21, 2006 @ 2:48 pm

  10. I have always wondered who it is that makes up all of these kind of rules. Whether it be a white shirt, a blue shirt or whatever does not take one’s spirituality away from the task at hand. I once had someone tell me that so and so was passing the sacrament with their left hand. I pretty much ignored him because there just is not a rule on the issue. My wife asked me last Sunday if there are supposed to be a certain number of deacons to pss the sacrament. I told her no.

    I call it all the “Retro-iconic tradition of our fathers”. Retro in that it came somewhere from the past. Iconic because it gets into being a religion label (missionaries wearing white shirt and tie). And most of all- the past on tradition of the Fathers, who knows, maybe 30 years from now it will be white pants too- The sacrament on the other hand has not changed in it’s principle and probably won’t.

    Comment by Rob Osborn — February 21, 2006 @ 3:14 pm

  11. Why do so many people people care so much about something so unimportant?

    Comment by Copedi — February 21, 2006 @ 3:28 pm

  12. In my previous ward it was considered a major victory to get the young men to take out gigantic fake diamond ear rings while blessing and passing the sacrament. Not much progress was made on the, “please don’t wear a black dress shirt,” front.

    Comment by a random John — February 21, 2006 @ 3:52 pm

  13. Rob O.,

    In answer to your question, these sorts of unwritten rules seemingly gained some level of official status in the church after Elder Packer’s talk given at BYU called The Unwritten Order of Things. Needless to say, this talk has not been universally popular.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 21, 2006 @ 4:15 pm

  14. “What’s wrong with relaxing the “rules” and letting women come in slacks, men in casual shirts and no ties? Does that really take away from our worship?”

    Lest I be mobbed by people in a huff over shirt standards, I frequently wear blue shirts to Church. But I do think that those passing the sacrament should wear white, as I’ll explain.

    I don’t believe that this is simply pharasaic legalism, or some rule that the bad white patriarchy is oppressing us with. (That’s not exactly your rhetoric, I know.)

    But, both the Church building and, ostensibley, the primary reason why we attend -the sacrament- have to do with holiness and ritual.

    By degrees, in terms of space, the inside of a church building is holier than the outside, and a temple is holier than a church building.

    By degrees, Sunday is holier than the rest of the week, and the most sacred time of the three-hour block is the sacrament.

    By partaking of the sacrament, we renew our covenants and are explicitly promised the spirit, which sanctifies us, or, using non-latin terminology, makes us holy.

    Sacredness and holiness have to do with being set-apart, being different.

    I believe that by wearing casual clothes, by treating church and the sacrament as we would non-holy space and non-holy time (ie. any other event where we need to dress “nice,”) we de-sacralize it. We show that we do not view it as different. And that bothers me.

    I think those who officiate in the sacrament should be representing a further degree of holiness, which is why I think they *should* be in white shirts.

    Those are my own views.

    Flame away…

    Comment by Ben S. — February 21, 2006 @ 4:18 pm

  15. If that were the reason Ben S., then I have to wonder why my previous ward building was white and the nearest temple was not.

    Comment by Kim Siever — February 21, 2006 @ 5:14 pm

  16. Ben,
    That’s a good explanation. Though it doesn’t sound like the rhetoric in my dad’s class was as measured and thoughtful as yours.

    But it still seems like there is too much time devoted to this topic in EQ classes. I mean, how many times have we touched this topic in the bloggernacle in the past year and a half?

    Comment by Rusty — February 21, 2006 @ 5:18 pm

  17. Ben,
    I like your reasoning. In addition to that, the problem with wearing more casual clothes is that in most places, they stand out. Church should not be a place to make a fashion statement or in any other way draw attention to ourselves. There are enough things in church that often make it distracting to worship, we don’t need anything else.
    I do the same thing with rather flamboyant ties. I’ll wear them to church but not if I’m performing an ordinance, on the stand or performing a musical number.

    Comment by Bret — February 21, 2006 @ 5:24 pm

  18. Rusty,
    No more then homosexuality, WoW, or business ethics!:)

    Comment by Bret — February 21, 2006 @ 5:26 pm

  19. “Why do so many people care so much about something so unimportant?”

    A worthy question, Copedi. But as we can see, it clearly goes both ways.

    Comment by Eric Russell — February 21, 2006 @ 5:34 pm

  20. Church should not be a place to make a fashion statement

    This is true, but it’s a gray area. If I am trying to be at my best that will probably involve some kind of color coordination, shoes of a certain shape (which are most flattering to my build and which match my suit), a tie that matches my shirt and has a nice design to it, if I’m wearing a French cuff shirt then nice cuff-links, etc. Well, some would say that I’m trying to make a fashion statement when I’d just say I’m trying to look my best. This is why I think it all goes back to the individual’s heart.

    Comment by Rusty — February 21, 2006 @ 5:50 pm

  21. You know, I hardly believe what I was reading in Packer’s talk (which I’ve just now seen for the very first time).

    I have never felt the need to call an Apostle wrong, but he’s wrong about funerals.

    And I see little else right in that talk.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — February 21, 2006 @ 6:24 pm

  22. I like Ben’s viewpoint. I’m not sure I could be in the same state of mind during church if men wore shorts, surfer shirts and sandals. But I also feel that as a person in the congregation, blue, pink, yellow, or green shirts nicely coordinated with the rest of the outfit are certainly ok.

    I wear a white shirt and tie because I want the Bishop and High Council rep to see my righteousness and maybe I’ll get an important calling like Bishop or something ;-(

    Comment by don — February 21, 2006 @ 6:27 pm

  23. D., I have to agree with you on the funeral part of Elder Packer’s talk. Actually nothing really offended me in that talk, but I was a bit dismayed at his counsel about funerals. It seems like it should a time when a family needs and wants to honor the deceased, not only have yet another service.

    Back to white shirts.

    Comment by meems — February 21, 2006 @ 8:12 pm

  24. I guess I’ve never really noticed what the men are wearing in church, but I like it that I think maybe the women (at least in the places I’ve been) have been more forgiving. I have always been in wards where there is at least one sister who insists on wearing pants or dresses in non-traditional ways. At first, my judgemental hackles raise to think,”ooh. She’s wearing pants!” And then, after a couple of weeks, I’ll think, “oh, there’s Sister so-and-so. How cool. She wears pants :-)”!

    Comment by meems — February 21, 2006 @ 8:13 pm

  25. “I wear a white shirt and tie because I want the Bishop and High Council rep to see my righteousness and maybe I’ll get an important calling like Bishop or something”

    Sounds like the reason I don’t wear white shirts.

    Comment by Kim Siever — February 21, 2006 @ 8:47 pm

  26. It seems to me the bishop as the head of the Aaronic Priesthood has to draw a line somewhere. I have to believe that most of us would feel that a kid wearing sandals with cutoff jeans, a KISS t-shirt and face paint probably should not be passing the sacrament. If that is the case, then where do you draw the line? Performing a public priesthood ordinance, the line should be reasonably high. In our modern north American culture we all know in general where that is.

    Comment by Eric — February 21, 2006 @ 9:31 pm

  27. “In our modern north American culture we all know in general where that is.”

    This is the problem. I don’t think these general standards exist, anymore.

    There are certainly plenty of modest outfits that don’t include a white shirt.

    It’s just utter nonsense.

    There was a time in our Church’s history, when it seemed to be de riguer for the Prophet to wear a very prominent beard.

    But not now. Standards are… slippery, as the culture progresses.

    Comment by D. Fletcher — February 21, 2006 @ 9:38 pm

  28. I’m with Rusty in that I don’t think a white dress shirt is the “best” or dressiest clothing I own. In fact, when I have to dress up for social occasions, my wife won’t let me wear a white dress shirt because she thinks it’s tacky.

    And don’t even ask about ties with short sleeved shirts!

    Comment by NFlanders — February 22, 2006 @ 1:26 am

  29. I have to believe that most of us would feel that a kid wearing sandals with cutoff jeans, a KISS t-shirt and face paint probably should not be passing the sacrament.

    Hehe… nice image Eric. Your point is well taken. Lines seemingly should be drawn somewhere.

    Comment by Geoff J — February 22, 2006 @ 2:18 am

  30. Given all that I have said on this post, if I were a bishop (God Forbid) I would teach the priciple, but never enforce it unless it was pretty exteme. ‘Let them govern themselves’.

    Comment by Eric — February 22, 2006 @ 8:32 am

  31. Me: Why do so many people people care so much about something so unimportant?

    Eric R.: A worthy question, Copedi. But as we can see, it clearly goes both ways.

    True, true. And, I must confess, I have strong feelings on the issue, as much as I wish I didn’t. It’s hard for me to avoid being judgmental about the judgmentalism, and I find myself guilty about what I accuse others of doing. And, again I confess, I end up finding that on those rare occasions where I wear I a white shirt (I don’t do my laundry often enough and sometimes that’s all I have left) I feel like I’m caving in to attitudes I don’t like. So it does matter to me, as much as I wish it didn’t.

    In terms of principle, I agree 100% with what Ben S. said, so he won’t get any flaming from me. And that’s why I do dress up for church. In fact, I dress for church basically the same way I did for my last job interview or like I do when I go to weddings, funerals and simliar events — and that does not include a white shirt. I think a color-coordinated outfit looks much better and is indeed my “best,” so that’s what I wear.

    And if others feel they can worship better wearing a white shirt and tie, or jeans and a T-shirt, who am I to tell them otherwise?

    Given all that I have said on this post, if I were a bishop (God Forbid) I would teach the priciple, but never enforce it unless it was pretty exteme. ‘Let them govern themselves’.

    Amen, brother.

    Comment by Copedi — February 22, 2006 @ 10:14 am

  32. Eric,

    Would you tell them that you’d never enforce it and that you were leaving it up to them or would you just tell them what you think the standards are and leave it at that?

    Comment by a random John — February 22, 2006 @ 12:10 pm

  33. Re: White shirts – a couple of references Jeffrey R. Holland, Conference Report, Oct. 1993: “May I suggest that wherever possible a white shirt be worn by the deacons, teachers, and priests who handle the sacrament. For sacred ordinances in the Church we often use ceremonial clothing, and a white shirt could be seen as a gentle reminder of the white clothing you wore in the baptismal font and an anticipation of the white shirt you will soon wear into the temple and onto your missions.

    That simple suggestion is not intended to be pharisaic or formalistic. We do not want deacons or priests in uniforms or unduly concerned about anything but the purity of their lives. But how our young people dress can teach a holy principle to us all, and it certainly can convey sanctity. As President David O. McKay taught, a white shirt contributes to the sacredness of the holy sacrament (see Conference Report, Oct. 1956, p. 89).”

    There is also the classic story of N. Eldon Tanner, who as a Branch President asked all his deacons to wear blue jeans to pass the saacrament because one of the boys couldn’t afford anything else.

    Comment by TS — February 22, 2006 @ 1:20 pm

  34. A few tid-bits …

    Elder Holland suggested to the Aaronic priesthood holders to wear white shirts when administering the sacrament (Oct 1995). He cited President McKay (Oct 1956).

    Elder Nelson mentions that those who prepare the sacrament should look their best and be dressed appropriately. He alludes that white shirts should be worn as a reminder of covenants previously made (Aug 2004 ENSIGN).

    I personally tend to think that anyone who administers the sacrament should be dressed cleanly and neatly and should wear a white shirt. It’s kind of like the man who baptized you … he wasn’t wearing blue … he was wearing white. The sacrament, which is a renewal of baptisimal covenants, should have the same level of respect by those who administer it.

    Now … if you’re not administering the sacrament, then I don’t see the need to wear a white shirt. I do, however, think you should be dressed cleanly and neatly. But with that said, I don’t think the bishop would kick anyone out of the church if they came in jeans. But I would draw the line on extremes.

    A former bishop/bishopric member should not be burned at the stake for wearing a blue shirt to church … he just wouldn’t/shouldn’t be able to administer the sacrament. Which, in turn, says something about his commitment of being prepared and ready to exercise the priesthood (if he’s wearing a blue shirt EVERY single Sunday).

    And lastly … If all my white shirts were dirty and all I had was a blue shirt, I’d wear it to church. I’d be sure to make my next Saturday a special day and be ready for Sunday … ie I’d make sure I had a clean white shirt to wear.

    Comment by dp — February 22, 2006 @ 1:42 pm

  35. Mis-applied symbology like this just fascinates me. It reminds me of being in the MTC in 1986. Sister Durrant, the MTC President’s wife was on a tear against paisley ties. Paraphrasing, she held they were “of the world,” a silly fashion fad, and something that detracts from your spirituality critical to serving as a missionary. She pleaded with parents (during the drop-off meeting) if their son was wearing a paisley tie to trade immediately with Dad for a non-paisley. Sister Durrant would confiscate any paisley ties she saw to your eternal shame.

    Fast-forward to General Conference. We thousand-or-so missionaries were watching intently. Pres. Monson took the stand wearing *gasp* a paisley tie. Suddenly, the spell was broken and we all realized that maybe, just maybe, the walls of Hell weren’t papered in paisley.

    Does a deacon take off his priesthood when he changes from a button-front shirt on Sunday to a poloshirt on Monday? Does a Bishop lose his authority when he changes into gymwear to play basketball on a Saturday morning? Should a Melchizedek Priesthood holder refuse to bless an accident victim he happens upon because he was on his way home from blue-collar job and he’s still in uniform?

    Of course not. Authority to act in the name of God is based on worthiness, not the pigment of the cotton you’re wearing. Our clothing choices are based on what is appropriate for the meeting we’re attending or, in a few cases, required by the ordinances we’re participating in.

    I don’t disagree that a white shirt looks clean and sharp. It is not, however, the only color of shirt appropriate for Sacrament Meeting.

    Comment by Chad Too — February 22, 2006 @ 3:02 pm

  36. I can support the idea that deacons, teachers and priests who are administering the sacrament should wear a white shirt. What about the Bishop and his counselors? They are not participating in holy ordinances while sitting on the stand any more than I am when I fulfill my responsibilities as Scout Committee Chairman. Even so, I can’t remember a time when any Bishop of mine ever wore something other than a white shirt on Sunday.

    Comment by Scott — February 22, 2006 @ 3:19 pm

  37. I couldn’t find a white shirt one Sunday and I wore my only blue one. No one said a word. I’m not in the Bishopric though.

    I’m pretty sure that if someone was getting “flak” in High Priests meeting, then it was done in jest. I personally cannot see it as that big of a deal.

    Comment by Ian Cook — February 22, 2006 @ 3:22 pm

  38. On the subject of dress codes, my mission president (going back 10 years) told us all that we ought to wear what the presiding officer of the meeting was wearing. So if the PO was wearing a suit jacket, we ought to leave our suit jackets on too. If he took it off we then we could too.

    He then told us about how he had attended general conference in the old tabbernacle and it was hot hot hot. But Spencer W Kimbal had his suit jacket on, so there was no way he was taking his off, and he reckoned he was about the only one in the congragation with it on!!

    I have a lot of respect for my mission president, its just that this type of thing was quite important to him. I recall him even commenting once when he noticed that the Bretheren (some of them) had started wearing button down collars, so presumably it was OK for us to do the same at our church meetings!

    I personally don’t have a problem with the Bretheren’s preference for white shirts, but at the same time I don’t think its something people should get too hung up on.

    Comment by Dinga — February 22, 2006 @ 3:42 pm

  39. TS and dp
    Amen.
    Rusty,
    Dressiest and looking your best for the Lord on Sunday are not the same thing. If they were, then why don’t we all wear tuxedos to church and women their wedding or prom dresses? I agree that it all depends on the heart of the person, but I that is an easy thing to say, but a hard thing to do and deal with.
    Anyway, what is everyone going to do when they get to heaven and see that everybody is wearing the same thing?>:)

    Comment by Bret — February 22, 2006 @ 3:54 pm

  40. Well folks, I’m in a bishopric and I wear a white shirt probably 2/3 of the time. I’ve worn green, blue and even pink shirts under my suit and nobody has ever said anything to me about it (including the bishop). In fact, the other counselor wears a blue or striped shirt semi-often as well.

    What’s amazing is that we still have the Spirit in our Sacrament meetings.

    Comment by Rusty — February 22, 2006 @ 4:10 pm

  41. As a former revolutionary, turned Bishop, turned primary worker, let me say this…
    We have become a dressed down society. Sunday’s should at least be one day when we turn everything about ourselves towards our Father in Heaven. Like offering the firstling of our flock, we should show respect by being in our best – whatever that might be – and whatever is appropriate to our culture. Furthermore, either we are obedient or we are not. If we have a leader whose inspiration is that we all wear green ties, then the Lord must know there is a greater good and approves, or the whole idea of inspiration comes into question. Certainly our dress should always be modest so that our minds are not drawn to areas they shouldn’t or at least distracted.
    This is a long debated topic brothers and sisters, whipped like the proverbial dead horse. We all know in our hearts what the right choice is AND we all know that obedience has always been our challenge…

    Comment by Kevin — February 22, 2006 @ 4:19 pm

  42. I’d say the Spirit is there in your meetings because the Spirit “is no respecter of shirts”.

    Rusty is right, it depends on the heart of the individual, but if the only reason you wear a colored shirt is to stick it to the leaders, what does that tell you about your heart? (Question not directed to anyone in particular).

    The color of the shirt is a non issue. The real issue is why we wear what we wear.

    Comment by Dinga — February 22, 2006 @ 4:21 pm

  43. Slightly off topic, but here in New Zealand our Polynesian members often wear traditional dress, which for men is a lava lava. If you North Americans saw a lava lava you would think it was a skirt. But here it is entirely acceptable because of the Polynesian influence.

    So to anyone out there with Scottish heritage, I dare you to wear a kilt to church. Just make sure you wear it with a white shirt.

    Comment by Dinga — February 22, 2006 @ 4:57 pm

  44. In my ward here in San Diego county we have some Polynesian brothers who wear “skirts” and sandals to church and no one gives them a second look. In fact, the Anglo YM president has also worn the same combination to church, and passed the sacrament at the same time. But they all have on white shirts!

    Comment by Timburriaquito — February 22, 2006 @ 5:09 pm

  45. random john,

    In regards to my potential lack of enforcement. I would then probably tell the young men and the leaders that I would take the responsibility for deciding if someone were inappropriately dressed, not them.

    Comment by Eric — February 22, 2006 @ 9:36 pm

  46. “What’s amazing is that we still have the Spirit in our Sacrament meetings.”

    This just in: the 14-year-old teachers have just been advanced to the office of “Sacrament Meeting Bouncer,” and with the installation of the foyer velvet ropes, be ready to stand in line and pass through a pre-Sacrament inspection. Be sure that you are dressed appropriately – men, that means white shirts – or little Johnny will have the authority to throw you out on your cans. In order to serve you better, bleaching vats will be available for you unfortunate non-white wearers.

    “I think those who officiate in the sacrament should be representing a further degree of holiness, which is why I think they *should* be in white shirts.”

    Ben, absolutely, which is why my 13-year-old is REQUIRED to wear a white shirt, and thankfully he takes pride in it. But “why-isn’t-your-shirt-white” mentality among non-Sacrament passers just gets me. Isn’t it enough that the guy showed up? It’s like a sister walking into another sister’s home and saying, “Sister Cheesebot, I love that your home is so clean… but why don’t you have a picture of the Guatemala Temple on your living-room wall?”

    Comment by Natalie — February 23, 2006 @ 11:21 am

  47. “What’s amazing is that we still have the Spirit in our Sacrament meetings.”

    This just in: the 14-year-old teachers have just been advanced to the office of “Sacrament Meeting Bouncer,” and with the installation of the foyer velvet ropes, be ready to stand in line and pass through a pre-Sacrament inspection. Be sure that you are dressed appropriately – men, that means white shirts – or little Johnny will have the authority to throw you out on your cans. In order to serve you better, bleaching vats will be available for you unfortunate non-white wearers.

    “I think those who officiate in the sacrament should be representing a further degree of holiness, which is why I think they *should* be in white shirts.”

    Ben, absolutely, which is why my 13-year-old is REQUIRED to wear a white shirt, and thankfully he takes pride in it. But “why-isn’t-your-shirt-white” mentality among non-Sacrament passers just gets me. Isn’t it enough that the guy showed up? It’s like a sister walking into another sister’s home and saying, “Sister Cheesebot, I love that your home is so clean… but why don’t you have a picture of the Guatemala Temple on your living-room wall?”

    Comment by Natalie — February 23, 2006 @ 11:22 am

  48. Sorry – I didn’t mean to post twice. I don’t think that much of myself, really. :)

    Comment by Natalie — February 23, 2006 @ 11:23 am

  49. In regards to my potential lack of enforcement. I would then probably tell the young men and the leaders that I would take the responsibility for deciding if someone were inappropriately dressed, not them.

    So which is it? Teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves or tell them that they can push the limits until you say otherwise?

    Comment by a random John — February 23, 2006 @ 11:58 am

  50. I think the white shirt pseudo-doctrine is kind of confusing. If the church (or units within the church) wants to adopt white shirts as a “uniform,” I don’t necessarily have a problem with that. That’s what it is for missionaries, and I get the impression that in some cultures, e.g. west Africa, white shirts are treated as essentially a uniform. But according to Elder Holland, white shirts are NOT a uniform.

    The whole thing seems a little perverse to me. Either we should just come out and admit it’s a uniform, or not. If we are going to instead say that we should dress to show “respect,” then we have to accept that everybody’s view of what is respectful will be different, and we shouldn’t spend our time trying to judge other people’s respectfulness.

    Comment by ed — February 23, 2006 @ 1:19 pm

  51. It seems that none of you remember the days when a dress shirt was white. In fact, the Japanese call a dress shirt a “waishatsu” (that’s “white shirt” for the uninitiated). The changes in fashion have required changes in the language: a pink dress shirt is a “pinku waishatsu.”

    I don’t care what color the deacons’ shirts are, so long as their left hand is stuck in the small of their back while passing the sacrament. That makes it easier to control them if they go wild–just grab the wrist and pull up, and the deacon will fall to his knees.

    Comment by Mark B. — February 23, 2006 @ 6:03 pm

  52. I wear spats to church. You are all a bunch of disgusting slobs.

    Comment by gst — February 23, 2006 @ 6:42 pm

  53. I skipped some posts. Well, a lot.

    Because I wanted to tell D-train he made me laugh.

    Although peoples names are sort of funny, when you think about using them out loud in conversation.

    “Roasted Tomatoes, that was so profound.”

    Comment by annegb — February 24, 2006 @ 7:33 am

  54. Natalie, I post twice all the time. Because I double click. Then I go back and it isn’t posted and I double click again. It’s sort of maddening, but I gave up the embarrassment of it because I do it all the time.

    Comment by annegb — February 24, 2006 @ 7:39 am

  55. Okay, I went back and you all made me laugh (Natalie, I loved the bouncer analogy).

    Kim, I don’t wear the blue shirt, I just tell the executive secretary I can’t meet with the bishop on Tuesday because that’s when I go to AA. Everyone pretty much leaves me alone. If you do a couple of crazy things, you’re pretty good for the long run.

    Comment by annegb — February 24, 2006 @ 7:42 am

  56. I thought the following might be appropriate for discussion here:

    linky linky

    Who wants to bet that some deacon shows up with one of these in the near future?

    Comment by a random John — February 24, 2006 @ 1:32 pm

  57. Good post and comments. What further evidence do we need regarding the modern practice of Mormonism being a theater of the absurd? Male period clothing based on circa 1950s American corporate office attire. You couldn’t make up something this bizarre. When you throw in our bike riding, tie-wearing missionaries, the period gets pushed back to circa 1920s. And Flanders sure nailed the absurd anomaly of the short sleeve and tie thing, worse than wearing a dirty tee shirt, even in 1950. At least our missionaries don’t wear those hideous machine washable nylon suits anymore that so many did in my day.

    Even in the late 1970’s I was a far better missionary in western Europe when we ditched the silly Mormon uniform. Nowadays, I only wear a white shirt in the temple.

    Comment by Steve EM — February 27, 2006 @ 2:12 pm

  58. SteveEM, what do you think of Elder Holland’s 1993 statement re white shirts? Is it still a sign of the absurd given that reasoning?

    Also, you have so often accoladed yourself as having been a super-missionary once you finally ditched all mission rules that I am really beginning to doubt how great of a missionary you could have possibly been. When you first started doing that, many months ago, I figured, well, maybe his rejection of the rules really didn’t affect his ability to have the Spirit about him as he taught. But over time, your enthusiasm for ditching the rules reveals a certain attitude that I don’t know can be compatible with the Spirit. It is an attitude that basically says, forget what my dumb church leaders say, they are stupid and pharisees and I know so much better, so I will ditch the rules.

    Who knows. I wasn’t there in France with you observing you flaunting disobedience to mission rules, so I really can’t judge. I can only express a nagging doubt that has crept in after your frequent repitition of this theme. But I was in East Germany with some missionaries who decided to throw all mission rules in the trash can. I don’t remember any of them who were more successful missionaries for it. Instead, they just wasted their own time and everyone else’s time while over there. Most of their time was spent in street clothes in cd stores wasting MSF buying bootlegs. When not doing that, they were convincing their eternal investigators who only came to English class that the Church’s rules were silly and that they were so cool before the mission and would be again once they got home. Meanwhile, missionaries who were willing to give the mission rules the benefit of the doubt and try their best, although imperfectly, to follow them, got dragged down with the disobedient ones so that noone was successful. Those are just my observations about the missionaries who defied the mission rules. But I understand you guarantee us it was the opposite in your mission. Which mission was that, by the way–Marseille sometime in the 1970s or 80s? I’m trying to remember something I’ve heard about that mission around that time, but it seems to have eluded me.

    Comment by john f. — February 27, 2006 @ 7:30 pm

  59. John F,

    Citing a 13 year old talk is kind of lame n’est-ce pas? Elder Oaks said once we’re supposed to pray in King James English too, does that mean I’m sinning by praying in my own language? And I don’t mean our missionaries should wear sloppy clothes, just 2006 clothes appropriate for their mode of transportation. Not circa 1920 clothing.

    For the record, I worked my rear off during my mission, even if much of my contacting was on the golf course in a polo shirt and cotton slacks with name tag. In the warm months, my comps and I taught almost every night except Fridays. I was in the leadership almost my entire mission for reasons I never really understood, my good stats aside, until I found out at the end of my mission, that I had found my MP’s favorite convert in my first town. That said, I would have greatly preferred to be Joe missionary because I couldn’t openly discuss some of my more unorthodox effective methods, so what was the point?

    And yes, I never ratted out seriously wayward missionaries, did double date occasionally and went to the beach some afternoons when things got slow and I needed a fix. But nothing bad ever came of the latter two activities. I wasn’t looking for a sexual relationship, just a female I could share my thoughts with, a habit I kind of had since boyhood. For some reason, I never went to the movies, dates were usually picnic type inexpensive things. While my failure to rat out missionaries in my last ZL assignment, caused me to go home on a sour note (not early) and accelerated a pre-marital hiatus from the church, all-in-all, I’d do my mission again in a heartbeat, and very few who served in western Europe would say that. Most I served with are sadly no longer LDS, driven from the church, IMO, by a certain GA’s semi-infamous circa 1979 “tough love” speeches (that’s probably what you heard about)and the satanic book “Drawing on the Powers of Heaven”.

    G-d bless you john, but don’t ever say I wasn’t a diligent and caring missionary.

    Comment by Steve EM — February 27, 2006 @ 8:33 pm

  60. It is amazing how much we want to apply standards to others. When the leaders speak to the church they are talking to each of us individually. They are not giving us any yardsticks to measure other people. I believe if someone showed up in church in flagrant disregard to LDS standards of modesty and decency a member of the Bishopric should offer them something to cover themself with. Everyone else should sit down and shut up and consider the grace that God offers them and how they may partake of it.

    Comment by al_miller — February 28, 2006 @ 4:14 pm

  61. Chad too,

    the walls of Hell are indeed papered in paisley.

    Dinga,

    we had an RM in our ward who’d served in Scotland. He wore a kilt to church quite often, and looked great, although we did sometimes have to remind him about sitting with his knees together.

    Comment by Space Chick — March 1, 2006 @ 11:32 am

  62. Anne, AA? LOL!!! That caught me totally off guard. Hubby thinks he’s gotten something over on the bishop because of his mustache and goatee. That, he believes, will keep him out of any “high-profile” callings… which is silly, because he’s in the EQ presidency.

    When I was RS president in a college ward in Logan, I thought of writing a book, “101 Ways to Get Released from Your Calling,” including: show up to church with a fake nose ring… but I have to say AA pretty much tops everything I ever thought of. :)

    Comment by Natalie — March 1, 2006 @ 5:44 pm

  63. al_miller: *wild applause*

    Thank you, that was perfect, succinct, well-spoken, everything I wanted to say and more. How easy it is to point fingers at Joe Blue Shirt, when in reality, he may be better at home teaching (and probably more) than one’s white-shirt-wearing self.

    Comment by Natalie — March 1, 2006 @ 5:52 pm

  64. Nothing wrong with AA. The ward I used to attend had a member of the bishropic who was active in AA and who said the organization led literally to his salvation.

    Comment by Commenter — March 13, 2006 @ 10:26 am

  65. I am certain that in our personal interview with the Savior, he will not mention the color of the shirt we wore to church meetings. What puzzles me though is if the Bishop is going to enforce a white shirt rule for sacrament participation, why do we eliminate ourselves from the opportunity. Are we testing him? Maybe instead of challenging the unwrritten rule, we should look for opportunities to exercise our priesthood. I think a white shirt is quite reasonable. And by the way, the fate of those who judge others based on the clothing they wear is a whole other topic.

    Comment by cj douglass — March 13, 2006 @ 5:07 pm

  66. Our stake president, decided to require any one that was passing or blessing the sacrament to be in a white shirt and tie. This did not go over well with some of our members. They felt this was unrighteous dominion. So they took the proper steps. Submitted the problem to the Bishop, who could not resolve the issue, so he submitted it to the stake president, who could not resolve the issue, and he submitted the problem to the area authority. Which the area authority said ” Brigham Young said your were the best you have. That is the most you can expect. Wearing a blue shirt doe snot make you less worthy. When Brigham Young went to church he had 2 pairs of overalls, one for working, and the other pair for church on Sunday.” The problem was finally resolved. He said “He would recommend the young men to wear a white shirt, for preparation for their mission. But it is not required. Just wear the best you have.”

    Comment by Jacob Haug — March 28, 2006 @ 12:21 am

  67. Jacob Haung,
    It’s nice to know that this kind of tyranny is not tolerated in your stake.

    Comment by cj douglass — March 28, 2006 @ 2:12 pm

  68. For sacred ordinances in the Church we often use ceremonial clothing, and a white shirt could be seen as a gentle reminder of the white clothing you wore in the baptismal font and an anticipation of the white shirt you will soon wear into the temple and onto your missions.

    Comment by tina emerson — December 10, 2006 @ 11:02 pm

  69. I really don’t feel real strongly about this. Yes it is true that church is not a place to show the style statement and there is a white dress shirts code for it, but on the other hand if you don’t have one such piece or you can’t have the well washed & pressed shirt then what to do? I suggest to have 2-3 white shirts for this purpose, so if one gets rejected then at least you have the other 2 to wear.

    Comment by Bred Pit — July 1, 2011 @ 12:13 am

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