Thursday, August 26, 2004


Casual. adj. 3a. Being without ceremony or formality; relaxed. 3b. Suited for everyday wear or use; informal.

Casual is here, in case you haven't noticed. As one who has been looking for a new career, I've seen too many ads that promote the casual dress code as evidently the number one reason someone should work at a place. Casual Fridays seems to be peoples' most anticipated event of the week. The last place I worked, a school, I was amazed at the grubs that people (teachers) showed up in on Fridays, as if they had come straight from doing some lawn care. This survey's results showed that 50% of people rated casual dress as something preferable (3 or 4 on a scale of 1 to 4) when considering a job. Dressing down may even make you healthier according to this. While the dress shirt is advertised here as the perfect item because it can be either dress up or dress down, this school (loosely, now) even includes in its curriculum some instruction on business attire.

The way we have learned to view clothing today, the traditions of a few generations before us become lost in translation. The days when a gentleman was hesitant to appear in public without wearing a coat sound like something from sci-fi, and the Victorian manners of women seem even further eclipsed today.

Casual is everywhere. Locally I saw a Catholic church that was advertising their "Casual Worship." The terms "casual" and "contemporary" have become almost synonymous today in terms of church "progress." A Google of the terms shows that casual or contemporary worship occurs around 3 times as much as "traditional" worship. Churches don't advertise traditional worship – it's like advertising that you're selling old cars rather than new ones. However, I see it more as advertising Coke Classic rather than New Coke – not trying at all to be sacrilegious (hmmm…interesting word.) I prefer Classic, however. Ceremony can certainly be good. Ceremony with content, but that's another day...

Casual has fully infiltrated speech as well. In browsing some blogs, I've come across several (I won't link to them…you can find them) where the language has been decimated. I'm sure there are lots of things to blame, but I wonder if a cause is not in the use of IM's, especially on the phone where a person is not going to spell out a word because of the effort involved. In teaching English in school, I was shocked sometimes to see just how all formality had been neglected in written English. As a friend pointed out, "I'll bet they [the students] can communicate on IM's though." He's likely right.

I'm not against casual…I'm against losing our culture. I'm against dressing with no respect for oneself or others. I'm against losing our language skills to the point that foreigners know more about English than the average American. And I'm especially against creating an environment in our churches that is no different from our culture. "What is worship?" we must ask ourselves. How casual, if at all, should I expect to be when offering praises to God? I'd say as casual as Moses in Exodus 33-34 when he asks God to show him His glory. Moses has to be hidden in the rock because of the glory of God passing by him.

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