Sunday, August 03, 2008

Varia--Clothes, Pharisees, etc.

The gospel reading today was Jesus' parable of the publican and the pharisee. (The epistle was I Cor. 15, which is tremendously important and about which I've been talking recently elsewhere, but I'll stick to the gospel for this post.)

In the 70's and 80's I was a big fan of Ken Medema, and I still like his old material. It's very hard to find anymore. His version of this parable is "Mr. Simon." I love the 70's recording, which I have on both tape and CD, but unfortunately it's not available anywhere that I can find on-line to link to. Ken has re-recorded the song with, in my opinion, a much inferior musical accompaniment. The 70's accompaniment was just piano and illustrated Ken's inimitable piano style. The vocals on the new version are also not as good, IMO, being exaggeratedly sarcastic rather than letting the words speak for themselves. But you can't get around the words. I'll let you listen to it in the new version if you're so inclined. The last lines are the best: "Two men walked into the church upon that Sunday morn. One left slightly wrinkled; the other left reborn." Ouch.

One of the best fictional treatments of the parable comes from an unexpected source. Agatha Christie wrote a number of straight (i.e., non-mystery) novels under the pseudonym of Mary Westmacott. Her novella Absent in the Spring, written under that name, makes excellent use of Christ's parable. The main character actually thanks God that she is not as an old schoolmate whom she meets again unexpectedly after many years. I highly recommend the novel, without claiming that it is great literature. But it is well-crafted and unexpectedly convicting.

Finally, I hope this will not play into the "Pharisees" theme in any ironic fashion, but I do want to tell my lady readers about another clothing site I have found that has the potential to supply a lot of clothing needs, not just dresses. No children's clothes, unfortunately, but they have a good line of petites that really are petite, which is useful to know for present or future teen daughters. The company is Blair, and they have classy, modest jeans for women as well as nice dresses and skirts. I've just bought several pair of excellent-fitting jeans for Eldest Daughter in their smallest petite size, which is smaller than the smallest petite size I've been able to find anywhere else. This skirt is really nice--the cloth a little thin, but the style modest and pretty, and incredibly comfortable. (A good price, too.) It reminded me (and this is high praise) of what C.S. Lewis says about clothes in Narnia: "In Narnia your good clothes were never your uncomfortable ones. They knew how to make things that felt beautiful as well as looking beautiful in Narnia: and there was no such thing as starch or flannel or elastic to be found from one end of the country to the other." I have to admit that this does have an elastic waist, but it's a gentle one, and the skirt sounds nice and swishy when you walk. I recommend the navy floral. The selection at the site is wide-ranging, and the clothes remind me roughly of the clothes you could buy, but can't find there any longer, at J.C. Penney's some fifteen years ago.

I found Blair linked from a sort of link consortium at one woman's site to which I wish I could give a hat tip, only I didn't save her URL. She had a whole bunch of "modest clothes" links. Lilies Apparel, which I have featured here before, was mentioned there, but none of the others except Blair seemed super-useful, especially since it's not clear that they are active sites. (I e-mailed a query to one of them and didn't get a reply.)

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