Monday, December 27, 2004

Pondering hair and head coverings

I really liked Girl With a Pearl Earring. Based on the book authored by Tracy Chevalier, this film and the painting by Johannes Vermeer captivate my imagination.

The author of the book names the girl Griet (pronounced 'Greet') and Griet keeps her hair covered at all times. The very act of covering her hair causes it to become a forbidden fruit of sorts. (Thus, my interest in ordering a scarf and learning to create the Jerusalem Twist.) I have no intention of keeping my own hair covered at all times, but I am intrigued by the idea, the effect, and the significance of the covering of a woman's head.

The Bible addresses the practice of veiling in 1Corinthians 11:1-16. These verses are among the most controversial in the Bible. No where else in the Bible are head coverings discussed in detail.

Two separate issues come to the fore. One is the issue of authority and the other is the issue of modesty. In 1Cor 11:3 we read that man is the head of woman, just as Christ is the head of man and God is the head of Christ. This (exceedingly briefly) sums up the matter of authority. The time that Apostle Paul is addressing the Christians in the city of Corinth is around 55 A.D., a time when all respectable Hebrew women wore veils over their heads when they went out in public. What Paul was saying is that women should wear such veils when they worship. (The Adventure Bible, Zondervon, 1985 p. 1267.) This (exceedingly briefly) sheds light upon the modesty issue.

The one and only verse I have memorized is Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing." For me, I couldn't really wear a head covering because I'd need to be able to put it on often or wear it all day. And when Paul referred to head coverings did he mean a full covering like entire head as well as the face, or all of the hair but the face can show, or most of the hair with some hair peeking out in front, or would a cap do? It's open to interpretation. And it depends on local custom. Even among the Amish the size and style of the head covering varies.

And women have a natural inclination to want to be attractive. We're hard wired that way. I lost the page but I read a testimony about head covering where a woman noted that it was not uncommon for young women to primp and ask how their tails looked, meaning they wanted to be sure their scarves were arranged to look pretty. The chick factor is inescapable.

I do like head coverings on women. When I see a woman with a head covering, I know it's an outward sign of an inward attitude and I have a lot of respect and admiration for that. At the market I see women who wear traditional hijabs. They look so pretty. When we were traveling in Montana last year we saw a very large family, must have been ten children, sit down in a restaurant and every single girl wore a small white cap and they were dressed very plainly. They were friendly too.

So I'm thinking about keeping my hair up, though uncovered, all the time.

I'm just pondering hair and head coverings tonight.

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