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Blog // Thoughts
July 27, 2006

Fashion And Being Spiritual But Not Religious

How much do the clothes we wear and the accessories we choose say about our spirituality? Maybe more than many assume might be the case.

Must-have accessories for the spiritual man, was an article in Tuesday’s International Herald tribune, which drew attention to a longstanding trend in mens’s fashion; jewellery with meaning. The connection here is with the growing band of people, in this case men, who self-identify as “Spiritual But Not Religious 9SBNR0.” As the article highlights,

The most inclusive of sects, SBNR appears to shelter nouveau Buddhists, 12- step adherents, lapsed Catholics, nonobservant Jews, people who burn incense and others who just don’t, you know, like how negative “atheism” sounds. Naturally, SBNR involves no overt dogma. But tacitly it encourages a few things: self-expression, whole grains, a working familiarity with yoga. And for men, it involves jewelry. No heavy-link gold chains; SBNR rejects such overt materialism. No diamonds; SBNR does not square with those dark politics. And no Christian crosses, no Stars of David; SBNRists are beyond such unimaginative choices.

Whilst it is good to see comment on film become more widespread amongst those working in spirituality, religion and culture (OK, more widespread but not better) and other areas like music and art receiving more attention, fashion seems to be all to often left out. I recall trying to bring this u pin conversation a few times down the years and always receiving a lukewarm response.

But fashion is about choice and expression and therefore it is an excellent mirror on a culture, often giving us a fast moving and vivid picture of the emerging changes in society, and a very revealing insight into the mindset of the wearers and fans of fashion trends.

“I don’t even look at this as jewelry,” he said. “It’s more something spiritual, that depicts periods of my growth, of growing up, of my life. I try not to look at it as jewelry. If I did, I would rip it right off my neck.”

How much clearer a revelation do we need than that? The jewellery is spiritual symbols marking changes in life. It always strikes as odd that if we were studying a radically different culture, we would easily accept the symbolic power of jewellery and dress, but when looking closer to home, we become blind to it.

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