Sunday, July 15, 2007

Welcome to my rant-fest. Today, we have two topics.

First, there's the dress code, or lack thereof, for the laypeople serving in various capacities during Mass at my parish. Our cantor was in jeans(!) and worn-looking sneakers. I learned at age 16, which was when I first started volunteering as a musician at the parish where I grew up, that jeans are VERBOTEN on the altar. So the sight of jeans on the cantor this morning activated one of my Pet Peeve circuits.

Then our two altar servers, both of whom were boys, were wearing sneakers. Not just unobtrusive sneakers, either, but ostentatious, boldly-colored ones that were designed so that the kids who like to See and Be Seen wearing expensive clothes would stand out while wearing them. One of the boys was also most likely wearing shorts under the alb, since the alb only was shin-length on him and there was no sign of slacks or long pants of any kind.

I really need to find a diplomatic way to suggest to our pastor (whom I've known for a long time, as he was stationed for years at the parish where I grew up) that the people who are serving at Mass need to be asked to follow at least a Business Casual dress code when they're up there. I'm not saying that they should be running out to rent tuxedos and formal wear before they set foot on the altar. But for goodness sakes, if the people who are standing in full view of the congregation, and serving in some capacity, don't show some reverence in the way they dress, what kind of example is that setting for the rest of the parishoners?

Again, dressing appropriately for Mass volunteers (and paid workers like the cantor, organist, and interpreter) is a concept that I've had drummed into me since I was in my mid-teens, so this is a Pet Peeve of mine. I hasten to add that I wouldn't criticize if we were talking about people who couldn't afford to augment their wardrobe on a moment's notice. I understand full well that people aren't made of money, and some people's disposable income is limited or nonexistent. In that case, if they were willing to volunteer for the church, there's no reason for the parish not to help them get at least one pair of dress slacks and dress shoes. IMO, if the church can't find a way to assist parishoners who are genuinely in need, then they need to re-read their mission statement. But we're not talking about people who would have to make a choice between buying food for their next meal or buying altar-appropriate articles of clothing. And in the case of the altar servers, if they attend the parish school, they already OWN slacks and dress shoes because it's required for the school uniform.

Like I said... all they have to do is institute a Business Casual dress code for the people assisting with the Liturgy, and that should resolve this issue instantly.

OK, so that was Rant One. On to Rant Two.

Our parish is doing a very positive thing for itself and for the environment. We have a huge recycling bin in the parking lot where people can bring paper goods. The recycling company brings the bin, collects the paper, and pays the parish for letting them have the bin on their site, so it's basically free money. Parishoners can help the parish at no cost to themselves, and we have a way to get rid of paper without waiting for the city's recycling collection that only occurs every two weeks. Win/win for everyone.

So why am I ranting? Because two days ago, some senseless hooligan kid(s) torched the nearly-full recycling bin. A few thousand pounds' worth of paper went up in a huge fire that could have burnt down half the neighborhood if the winds had spread the flames. It's probably the same senseless hooligans that our pastor has called the cops about repeatedly, since they repeatedly infest our church parking lot after hours and break the school windows.

Now our church is looking into various security options, including cameras. (I'd suggest a pack of rabid attack dogs, but then people wouldn't be able to safely drop off their recycling donations. Bad idea.) I think that our parish should team up with the pentecostal church that's on the adjacent property, since the Senseless Hooligans probably do their share of loitering and vandalism on both sites. I'd like to see cameras go up on their buildings, our buildings, and the apartment complex that's adjacent to our church on the OTHER side. All three properties have parking lots and if the Senseless Hooligans are driven from one site, they can easily access the other two. The same way entire neighborhoods should exterminate when termites are found, so that the pests don't simply migrate into the nearest available untreated houses, these three sites should band together to send the human parasites packing.

Oh, and if surveillance cameras aren't the answer, then maybe a band of baseball-bat-wielding Neighborhood Watch people consisting of apartment-complex residents, parishoners, and pentecostal church members will do the trick. As long as they successfully get the fargin' Senseless Hooligans out of here before any more damage is done, I don't much care what method they employ.

No comments: