Having dealt with footwear, I fear we must address hats. This question will take us in a sentence or two to Nigeria and back, but fear not, we will not be diving too deeply into the waters of controversy. I hope.
Fr Gadgetvicar has been preaching on 1 Corinthians 11, which has the stuff in it about women needing to wear hats and men needing not to wear hats when praying or prophecying. Let me leave aside the question of why St Paul wanted men, presumably some of them good Jewish men, to take their hats off in worship. That can be taken up by anyone who wants to discuss it. Let us also not be distracted by the fact that Paul clearly appears to expect women and men to prophecy and pray in public. Again, you are free to discuss amongst yourselves.
I’ve always been of the view that this is Paul speaking to his own culture and that injunctions to women to cover the head are firmly out of date.
I remain of that view. However, I found myself questioning his motivation the other Sunday when I was baptising someone who had a family which partly came from this country and partly from Nigeria. Several pieces of fabulous headgear which came from Nigeria, made me wonder just what the hats were which St Paul was so keen to keep on women’s heads. He makes little mention of style, colour or plumage. If they were as wonderful as those I am thinking of, I find myself curiously sympathetic to his cause. However, must we not be fair and equitable in these enlightened days? Must men not have the opportunity to wear them too?
I’ve taken to wearing a hat in public recently, but it is of a staid, black style which I fool myself myself into believing makes me look tall, suave and thin.
The only liturgical hat rule that I’ve ever employed is that I wear a biretta, only when it is snowing.