Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Collar

Just something that I noticed when I started the whole Chaplain gig here in Grand Forks but haven’t blogged about yet. Some people, especially Midwestern Lutherans, don’t like the collar. Essentially they think it’s too Catholic, though they express this feeling by mentioning the idea of the priesthood of all believers. To me the collar does have a certain symbolic import “my yolk is light” etc, but more importantly it functions as an easy identification of a religious figure for patients. If I wear my decent looking blue shirt I look like a janitor, if I wear a shirt with a tie patients assume I’m a doctor, but if I wear a collar they know why I’m wandering around the hospital. They sometimes call me “Father” or assume I’m a priest and I have to explain I’m protestant, but they have a good idea why I’m there.
So, the best way to deal with this I’ve found is to wear my light blue clerical. I’ve still got the little tab under my neck, but my clothing screams neither Papist nor Angel of Death (and make no mistake for a lot of patients clergy in the hospital are viewed as the Angel of Death), in fact the light blue seems to have a calming effect on the patients, or maybe it is a calming effect on me.
And that’s about all I know tonight. Time to go to bed, let’s hope no one