On Vestments and Clerical Bling

The supposedly uninspiring nature of modern priestly vestments are a major concern for conservotrad and traditionalist Catholics. After Vatican II, the number of vestments that a priest was supposed to wear was greatly reduced, virtually eliminating the biretta, the maniple, and black vestments, not to mention everyday wear like the cassock. Yet, a historical survey of the development of vestments illustrates that there has long been a tension between those who favor elaborate vestments and those who favor more modest ones.

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On Monarchy

About two weeks ago, Helen Mirren appeared on Fareed Zakaria 360 to discuss her acting career, which includes playing Queen Elizabeth II in the 2006 film The Queen and in a stage play called The Audience that recently ended in New York City. Zakaria noted that it was ironic that Mirren had become so well-known for playing the queen, given that she is an outspoken small-r republican (i.e., opponent of the constitutional monarchy and proponent of a republic). Mirren replied that while she respects the queen as a hardworking women driven by duty to family and country, she can’t get behind the idea that the Windsor family is somehow special in a way that justifies putting them on such a huge pedestal. I suppose my sentiments on the House of Windsor could be summed up in this quote from the wonderful out-of-print book BAD TV by Craig Nelson, in which he criticized the 1992 documentary Elizabeth R that was intended to “humanize” the monarch during her infamous annus horribilis:

What the film shows in agonizing detail is that the UK is spending a fortune to have a family dress up in expensive gowns and crowns, appear in public, and make lots of small talk — and they can’t even manage these minor tasks.

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