Friday, 25 September 2020

Name Calling and Wardrobe Malfunctions.

I've noticed something terribly devious during the pandemic recently. And no, this will not be a post about the plausibility of the virus, nor its effects and those affected. I won't show you a chart or a bell curve or even tell you how you are or aren't "loving thy neighbor" by what you did or didn't do so far.

I am going to write down two questions. One for you and one for likely only one of your friends, you remember friends, don't you? Those the people outside your cohort. We used to have lots of them but now it's only the people we can safely be around. 

The first question is  "Have you had your choice of face-covering mocked?"

It's a simple but blunt statement that is sure to get you thinking. And given the myriad of options available during this pandemic, I'm sure the answers will vary. As a clarifyer, I'm not saying your use of a face covering. I'm saying the object itself. Likely if you are pro mask you have been attacked to some degree via macro or microaggression on your use of them, in the same way, people who fly the anti-mask flag are micro and macro agress'ing against their use. 

But I'm talking about the object itself. 

You there, Man. Has your contoured single-colored D-cup covering your face been attributed to a bra found in your wife's chest of drawers.

You there, Child. Has the hello kitty swaddling cloth with elastic band ear loops been mocked for its cuteness, in abject disdain for the sewing skills that wrought it into existence by your loving mother.

From the plain to the patterned, the colorful options that have been available for COVID masks are welcomed by those who use them if only they don't fog up our glasses or clash with our outfits. This is as practical as it gets I fear. 

If you have had your choice of mask made light of, I would love to hear from you but I'm guessing after a bit of research myself that you would be an anomaly. Their use might be debatable but their disdain isn't something to joke about in popular discourse. 

But now it's time for Question two:

"Have any of your friends who have chosen bandanas for their face covering, had their bandanas mocked?"

If they're game to talk, and have a sharp enough memory to catch these things, you'll be surprised to know that a very light and slippery thing is going on with these types of face coverings. They are being mocked. Maybe mocked is too strong a word but the names are being called out and noticed by those with ears to hear. I purposely wear one and I've been called a bandito, a cowboy, (might be because of the plaid I wear), I've been asked when is the next train robbery and outright had them (the bandanas) called silly. 

There is likely no actual reason why, but I did notice that out of all the options these are the least popular. It's not that they aren't available but they are about 1 in every 100 face coverings you'll see out in the wild. So why the rarity and why the name-calling. Aren't we all in this together?

I think this may be a matter of a simple wardrobe malfunction. 

You see the bandana and its sporty cousin the buff, are in fact articles of clothing. They are worn for purposes and have a history. Hense the old-time name-calling that a bandana can receive that a homemade or amazon bought face-covering avoids by being as novel as the coronavirus they combat. 

Those purposes are exactly what makes them useful and as effective as a homemade mask. They stop some if not all particulate in the air from being breathed in and conversely out. But effectiveness aside, they are an article of clothing and must be treated as such. 

Masks, on the other hand, aren't an article of clothing but for the life of all of us are trying to be. That's why there are fashionable and available in accordance with our fashion sense. Bright colors for bright personalities, black for the more subdued. Protective equipment that masquerades as fashion is the epitome of a religious totem. A talisman of safety, as effective as blatantly using something not effective in its place. which is what bandanas are, by the way. A homemade mask with two layers of fabric is no different than a folded bandana, but one will get you a nickname like "Pardner" and the other would never get you one line "Nursey".

No one would, however, enter into an operating room to get a hernia worked on if the doctor casually let them know, that in lieu of the surgical mask he normally used, he would be wearing a cotton bandana he found in the tack house. Why? Because it would be using an article of clothing however valid or not, for something it was not designed for. Used in place of the PPE intended for such a procedure. 

But that is wholesale what is being done with homemade masks as if they protect for and from anything. And what illustrates this is the same two-layer minimum of fabric clung to by a wearer of a homemade mask, present in a folded bandana as a face covering. One is something pretending to be something it's not and the other is something adjusting its use as asked. Both are as effective at stopping the spread of viruses both ways. in and out.

The reason, I think, one gets mocked and the other doesn't is the stakes that are involved if either is wrong. If a bandana is wrong about its ability to protect both ways. No amount of fabric is going to change the (how) of homemade mask safety. Simply because it is held to the face via elastics. But the minimum of technicalities will suffice for a bandana. 

We need a more fishy example.

If you and twenty of your friends all decided that the water was good enough to swim in. would you question the one kid who fishes, saying there are leeches in there. Now he knows that there are leeches in the pond because he uses them for bait sometimes. He might look like a party pooper with a rod and reel but no amount of fun and bright colored bathing suits would convince him to swim where swimming is questionably done. Only if you saw a leech and could verify it, right? The kids in the pond won't flee the water until they see the black slippery parasites clinging to every nook fold and cranny of their bodies. 

Well, masks never try to verify their claims of protection. Because they can be clearly defeated by scrutiny. A bandana never tries to verify claims of protection and in turn, tries to verify the minimum standard. Because of this inherent ability to play by the rules but to effectively stay on the bench, bandanas get jeers and jokes because they aren't where the fun is happening. 

And it is fun. As much as you bemoan the masks, no one makes fashion choices in discomfort and disdain. They pick out little black dresses with thoughts of the romantic dinners it will service. Wedding dresses for weddings. Suits for promotions that need a sharp dressed man. And skinny jeans to fit in with the youngsters. 

This is why you'll hear the argument and comparison of "mask's as pants" from the pro mask side of this equation. (Which I am on by the way, though not as deeply in leech filled ponds as most without my waders.) Everyone by fiat of public opinion wears something from the navel down. why can't we wear a mask from the neck up, as if the fabric on our nose is somehow as necessary as the fabric covering our genitals? 

I'll tell you why. Because Christians have a theology of clothes. It may not be a popular topic from the pulpit and the iPad as how to live your best life or a 3-week study on marriage, but it is there. Way back in Genesis where the Lord killed animals in chapter 3 verse 21, to cover the nakedness and shame of our first parents. This act of shame covering was also likely the first sacrifice for sins. Made to show them the gospel-centered way from where they were in their sin, to a savior from their sin. 

Clothes can point us to Christ, even in the slightest. By need or by purpose clothes matter to the gospel. Every day we put them on in public reminds us practically that we are creatures of sin in need of a covering. Every time we take them off, a reminder of the intimacy (particularly us married folks) that God has with us, warts and all. 

Protective equipment doesn't ever point us to Christ, it only separates us from him. The death that was needed to account for sin, is what had our first parents taken from the Garden of Eden and God's presence Gen3:21. The face-covering over Moses' face was put there for Isreal comfort and shame after worship was lifted to a golden cow in the dust below Sinai. Exo 34:30 The veil in the Tabernacle and Temple kept a righteous and holy's God's presence from the sinful people who would die in it. Lev 16:1-28.

PPE keeps us from God because PPE keeps us from death. And that of all the uncomfortable things might be what we are actually dealing with these days. not just foggy glasses and nicknames.

But clothes point us to Christ, and as fancy as we make them these masks aren't clothes. At best they are PPE. This is why Paul can say things like Philippians 1:21, and why people mock articles of clothing that point to Christ, from behind the "fig leaves" of homemade masks.  

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