Dontcha wish you’d said that?

Written by Father Bill 12 Comments

Don’t you just love it when someone else says something, so you don’t have to?

It’s a blogger’s joy when someone else says something the blogger wants to say but hasn’t yet done so, for any number of reasons big or small.

And, so, I am chortling happily at Tony Woodlief’s saying what I always wanted to say about those who go to church (or, to other august events, such as funerals) dressed in attire not even fit for taking out the trash at 2:00 A.M. on the darkest night of the year.

Here’s his opening salvo:

I’m looking forward to our new church sanctuary because it will have pews. Right now we sit on folding chairs, which is part of the reason why I had to stare at the pimply ass-crack of the young woman in front of me, until I left to sit in the lobby, where the view was brighter and the sermon sounded kinder. She was a visitor, and some grace must be afforded, though the regular member who brought her treated everyone to more than we needed to see of her lime-green underwear.

It gets better.  Much, much better.  Read the whole thing.  And, don’t overlook the comments.  A few of them are priceless, and Woodlief provides you with some nifty retorts to those who’d defend the thing Woodlief skewers.

I notice that Woodlief has filed this particular blog in a category named “irritations.”  Heh heh heh.


  1. StCasserole   |  Sunday, 22 July 2007 at 8:13 pm

    He gets on his soapbox doesn’t he? I read the entire post and agree with him that I’m sick of seeing other people’s underwear and worse.

    I’d rather everyone be in worship no matter what they wear or carry (a latte?) but still find it distracting to read a beer ad t-shirt while I’m preaching…

  2. Huh?   |  Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 12:51 am

    Umm..’Fr’ Bill? Do you think the Bible might have something to say about using speech like ‘pimply ass-crack’? Like maybe Ephesians 5:4, 4:29, Matthew 12:34-35 or James 3:2-12?

    What am I missing when supposed spiritual leaders laugh at profanity and filthy innuendo and point other people to take it in?

  3. Fr. Bill   |  Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 8:02 am

    I usually delete drive-by wise-cracks such as “Huh?” has posted (revealing his email address to be “”), but in this case, I leave it to make a couple of points …

    The anonymous person who complains uses the term he finds offensive, and he uses it exactly as the Ur-blogger uses it.

    To verify this, all one need do is go to Woodlief’s blog entry, read it, and also — as I recommended — read the comments. Within the comments, the very complaint lodged by “Huh?” is also lodged, and I think Woodlief’s reply is spot on. I happily endorse it as the correct response to “Huh?”

    So, to answer the last question posed by “Huh?”, I’d say “Yes, you are missing something.” And, I’d further say, “Your ignorance in this case is willful.”

  4. Kamilla   |  Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 11:36 am

    Hi Fr. Bill,

    I agree with the concerns raised by Huh?, as it happens. I understand the defense of profanity Tony made but I don’t entirely agree. It sounds good, but can be used to justify about anything, especially sloppy writing. Most often the point can be made equally well, and sometimes more effectively, without the use of profanity. It reminds me too much of some bloggers to which I referred you a while back – who put the emphasis on “muscular” in something they call “muscular Christianity”


  5. Fr. Bill   |  Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 12:44 pm

    Hi, Kamilla,

    I guess we’ll disagree, then. Which is fine, so long as it’s clear where the point of disagreement actually is.

    First, I’d not agree with “Huh?” or (evidently you?) that the words in question are profanity. Anglo-saxonesque? Yes. “Graphic” so as to startle? Yes.

    Indeed, this is Woodlief’s primary point in using the term under discussion. His express intent was “to convey in print the same shock that comes over many of us when we see it first-hand.” I’ve seen worse than what he names, and in the community of Christians as well. Again, Woodlief confesses that “I am willing to offend in order to call attention to an ugliness in the world, and I believe that’s acceptable.”

    For Woodlief (and, here I’d agree with him), the intention determines whether a particularly graphic term that startles or shocks is used to moral effect. He denies the rightness of such use for terms “to offend simply for the sake of offending, or because one doesn’t care whether one offends others or not.”

    So, there’s no question here of the using such terms because of sloppy writing, or justify something else.

    You raise an interesting idea: “Most often the point can be made equally well, and sometimes more effectively, without the use of profanity.”

    Maybe, and maybe not. Tony’s startling phrase exhibits great economy of words. To paint the same picture without the very compact phrase he uses must surely dwell on the image far longer than he does, and to dwell on the image is exactly what he did not want to do in situ or in his textual report of his scenery at church.

    I’m minded to toss into my blog-fodder folder the idea of blogging on “strong language.” There’s very much in the Scripture (OT prophets to begin with) that go far beyond the boundaries set by those who fault Woodlief in his blog.

  6. Kamilla   |  Wednesday, 25 July 2007 at 1:31 pm

    I guess I wasn’t clear – I don’t disagree in principle with what you or Tony are saying here. You know well I am not shy of using “Anglo-saxonesque” language myself from time to time. However, I still issue the caution that all too often I have seen it used as a cover for sloppy writing or simply for the shock value.

    And, I guess, I wish our language usage really was richer and anglo-saxonesque instead of seeing the same words used over and over again. For instance, “toe rag” is now my favorite choice over “jerk” for someone such as the guy who popped a right turn from the second lane in front of me the other day. . . .


  7. Michael McMillan   |  Thursday, 26 July 2007 at 8:20 am

    It’s too bad the discussion is going off course to critiquing wording used by the blogger, instead of the highly insulting, gross and epidemic problem he’s man enough to address.

    But I have to say I would have toned down my wording a bit, too. No need to talk about TP and such. It can be pointed out to be as totally disgusting as it is using more refined (witty?) language.

    Since a picture is worth a 1,000 words, I wish someone would be brave enough to photograph other Christians around him at worship. But then, posting those images, someone would complain Christians were publishing porn! Just goes to show this trend is so sick, that mentioning it at all makes the person doing so look like the intolerant and unloving sicko. We’re supposed to be civil and pretend we don’t see such things. Christian charity, or something. I’m tired of that, frankly.

    This very much reminds me of the CBE [“Christians for Biblical Equality”] Workshop at the recent Cornerstone event that was all about a Christian woman’s dress having nothing to do with her spirituality.

    When are they going to start putting barf bags in the pew racks?


  8. Leigh Ann   |  Wednesday, 08 August 2007 at 11:51 pm

    Would I have used the word? Probably not, but then again as the post title suggest it is something I wish I had said. It is shocking, graphic and spot on. It’s funny because I don’t use the word as a rule, but it slipped out this weekend in a reference I made about myself to my siblings. I didn’t use it for shock value, though they were shocked, but because it conveyed the frustrated feeling that I had toward myself and behind just wouldn’t have cut it. Though I am glad the parentals weren’t there because Mom would have been rummaging around for the old Ivory and H2O.

    But I do digress from the thrust of the post which was also spot on. It is disturbing when the attitude the Church of Christ (by this shall all men know that you are my disciples…) conveys by their dress is that it is all about “me” so get over it and “get your mind out of the gutter (that I put it in)” and show me the love I deserve by accepting my flagrant disregard for the spiritual wellbeing of my brothers in Christ and not putting me in bondage to the law with a bunch of rules about modesty. And for heaven’s sake don’t force that patriarchy don’t my throat by suggesting that my husband or father take responsibility for the way I dress and tell me what is or is not appropriate.

    Sorry for all the run on sentences.

  9. Michael McMillan   |  Thursday, 23 August 2007 at 9:45 am

    I wish the church would say what the city of Atlanta is considering saying…

    Atlanta considers banning baggy pants

    Hooray for Atlanta’s proposed ordinance! What I especially like about this is that even exposed bra straps would be declared indecent and unlawful, just like the foolish-looking males shuffling along holding up their pants at groin level.

    __The proposed ordinance states that “the indecent exposure of his or her undergarments” would be unlawful in a public place. It would go in the same portion of the city code that outlaws sex in public and the exposure or fondling of genitals.__

    I can understand tackling the disgusting pants, but I am amazed they dare to take on sacred bra straps (which I certainly highly commend them for doing). This is so commonplace now, enforcing it would be like trying to ban sandals. It is much more epidemic (and stylish) than saggy pants, sports bras, or even exposed thongs. Females revolted by the sagging pants think nothing of showing off their bras, and can still be considered fine, upstanding women for doing so. Committed Christian women will do this as readily as the rest, with naught a murmur of impropriety, yet here is a major secular city considering making it against the law! Thankfully, someone sees it for what it blatantly is: “half-dressing,” and wants to do something about it. At the same time, it shows how blind churches are. They are too timid to ban anything, even in worship services.

    It will be interesting to see how long it lasts, if passed. If enforced (with fines), they could make millions. The ALCU is already saying attacking baggy pants is racist profiling, targeting black youth culture. (That’s “culture”?) The man pushing for the law is black, however. I guess the bra strap attack will be seen as a sexist attempt to keep women in their place, or something.


  10. Bethany   |  Saturday, 15 September 2007 at 6:29 am

    What a diversion all of this is.

    The thing that sticks out to me most in this story is the fact that the woman was a visitor. What happened to the grace that “must be afforded”? I’m not in the least offended by the phrase “ass-crack.” Maybe it is “graphic” but what exactly is wrong with that? It gives me a great visual of what the man was seeing and revealing to us. I just don’t understand why we are holding those who may not know Christ to the same, well, laws to which we hold Christians.

    I’m sure by modern standards the woman at the well would be the woman with her thong sticking out of the top of her jeans just underneath her rose tattoo in the small of her back complimenting the years of stretch marks on her sides. One bra strap had fallen out of her shirt and she didn’t bother to pull it up. Praise the Lord, Jesus didn’t move away in disgust or even acknowledge the cultural standard of not speaking to a woman. He offered her something better than the trashy lifestyle she was choosing to live. Because of that she chose to go and tell others there was something better. SomeOne better.

    I agree, it’s distracting. But if it wasn’t that, it would be something else. Where is the Grace being extended? Who’s telling or showing her there is someOne better?

  11. Michael McMillan   |  Thursday, 20 September 2007 at 10:45 am

    > What a diversion all of this is.

    Hi Bethany — yep, the slease show these days is quite diverting. I heard Southwest Airlines recently kicked a woman off a plane for having one of those micro skirts on that hardly covers the minimum (above and below) when standing. Later, because of the public outcry, they apologized to her. The woman should be the one apologizing, but it is seen as fine by the American public. Woe to those who call good evil and evil good.

    > Praise the Lord, Jesus didn’t move away in disgust or even acknowledge the cultural standard of not speaking to a woman. He offered her something better than the trashy lifestyle she was choosing to live.

    I sure wish the Church offered something better, too! Alas, it isn’t the case. They accept it all. The trashy look isn’t any different for ones born and raised in the church and the children of church leaders, either. There is no expectation they will look holy, honorable and undefiled.

    > I agree, it’s distracting. But if it wasn’t that, it would be something else. Where is the Grace being extended?

    If the children of light stood out as such, that would make it a lot easier to be gracious to the children of darkness. When the church follows the world, that I find very disturbing. The church has very little saltiness these days, and Jesus has a strong warning about that. It has little to no moral authority, in its rush to be relevant, tolerant and loving.

    “Go and sin no more,” he said.


  12. Bethany   |  Friday, 21 September 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Since when is extending grace (whether to Christians or non-Christians) supposed to be easy? The true Church absolutely does have something better to offer. How I wish my own heart and mind would remember as often as it is true, Jesus is so much better!

    I agree and am very saddened by the familiarity those who know Christ have with worldly fashions that beg only for egocentric attention. My main point is the fact that the author pinpointed this girl as a visitor and for all he knew, she had no idea of what is “better”. And he walked away. Her ignorant sin was so distracting to him that he forgot about grace.

    I don’t think talking about the disgraces of fashion on a blog is going to produce much change. I do think remembering grace as often as possible is both necessary and profitable.

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