Friday, December 03, 2010

A Sign and a Symbol

This morning I saw a link to an article while on FaceBook that had a photo of a woman wearing the hijab, the head scarf that some Muslims understand Islamic tradition as requiring a woman to wear.  In the past few years, the hijab has become the focal point of international ire -- a symbol, some say, of repression or a sign for religious rights.  (The photo at right is of Sura Al-Shawk, a Swiss citizen of Iraqi origin, a twenty-year old woman who has been told that she cannot play professional basketball unless she removes her hijab.  She is considering appealing the case the the Switzerland's highest court.)

When I looked at this photo this morning, though, I suddenly saw another image -- one I grew up with.  Oh how I loved the comedic exploits of Sally Field as Sister Bertrille, the Flying Nun.  Yet she wore her habit whenever she went out in public.  (And often wore that absolutely ridiculous hat, too!)  Where was the furor then?

And I have colleagues who always where a clerical shirt when they go out and about.  They want to be identifiable as ordained ministers, visible signs to the world of the vows they've taken and the vocations that have taken them. 

Perhaps you may argue that these folks have all chosen to wear what they wear.  And perhaps so.  But then it seems to me that those countries -- and those individuals -- who would consider banning the wearing of the hijab are making the same mistake as those who would require it.

In Gassho,

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