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Religious jewelry and images being visibly worn

I posted this at another site, but I wanted some varied opinions (slow day).

I have a tattoo on my right shoulder. It is visible when I'm sleeveless. I have a silver-tone pendant on a silver chain I wear. It is not large and gaudy. Usually I wear it under my shirt if I'm wearing a t shirt or other pullover. It's not ordinarily visible if I wear an open collar button down or polo shirt. Lately I've taken to wearing it outside my t shirt or pullover shirt.

I see a lot of people wearing religious pendants... crosses and crucifixes, the Star of David, etc. Some are small and tasteful, others are huge and gaudy. I often see younger 'hood and hip-hop homies wearing enormous gold chains and crosses. Ashamedly I think :rolleyes: . I can't know, unless I ask, if it's a fashion statement or a genuine display of devotion.

I'm of two minds about it. I wear the pendant because it represents something I believe, so why hide it. On the other hand, I don't want to be viewed as someone making a fashion statement or proselytizing. Of course because it is an unusual symbol people are either curious to know what it is or they don't even notice it; there are so many New Age religions with their own symbols, or people even wearing crystals or shark teeth that nothing is really that unusual unless it's an Aztec feather headdress.

When I was in college I worked part time in a jewelry store. A family of three came in. The mother wore an enormous cross on a chain. Her son looked at some item, I think it may have been a zodiac pendant (why and how I remember these things from almost 40 years ago is beyond me). The mother proclaimed loudly (paraphrasing, my memory isn't that good): "Oh no you can't wear that, that is against our religion". One of my thoughts about it was proselytizing, another was arrogant pride and condescension; the owners of the store were not Christian.

What do you think about visibly wearing religious jewelry or icons?

Comments

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    Fine by me.

    I don't let what other people wear inform my life in terms of beliefs, even if the purpose in their wearing something is intended to influence my thinking. So, if the wanna wear some big ol' cross or pentagram, or something like that it doesn't make a particle of difference to me.

    I don't much care about what people think of what I wear, either.

    I do sometimes care about what I wear. I started wearing a mala on my wrist long before I started using one regularly. It occurred to me one day, that I was using it to make some sort of statement and that it was, in effect, pretentious. I took it off.

    YMMD, but if you like what you're wearing, then wear it.
    Jainarayan
  • It depends.
    I don't necessarily classify all Buddhist symbolism with "religious" symbolism.
    Also there is a time and place for everything. I used to be a Pagan. I wore a small (about the size of a US nickel) silver pentacle on a chain around my neck. When I was at work, I used to keep it under my shirt. I just felt there was no reason to 'display' it to everyone.
    Other times I wore pagan jewelry that was a little bigger or flashier, but not at work, or at places where it wouldn't be right to call attention to myself like that (like at a church wedding, or other religious affairs)
    .
    BUT, that said, we have to remember that the pentacle was/is often misunderstood to be "satanic" or an otherwise unsavory symbol...

    Buddhist jewelry and symbols (like the "Ohm" or malas, etc) to me don't seem specifically religious. And they certainly don't get mistaken to be malevolent in any way at all. Lots of people who don't know much about Buddhism, might easily think your Ohm tattoo or mala is about 'yoga' or meditation practices, you know- new agey stuff...

    ::: shrugs::: So really, it's up to you. If anyone questions you about your Buddhist jewelry or tatts, just give them a simple, brief answer and a dazzling smile. It will be fine! :D


    Kundo
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    If the intent is to disrespect other people and their choices, then I'm generally opposed to it.
  • Chaz said:

    Fine by me.

    I don't let what other people wear inform my life in terms of beliefs, even if the purpose in their wearing something is intended to influence my thinking. So, if the wanna wear some big ol' cross or pentagram, or something like that it doesn't make a particle of difference to me.

    I don't much care about what people think of what I wear, either.

    I do sometimes care about what I wear. I started wearing a mala on my wrist long before I started using one regularly. It occurred to me one day, that I was using it to make some sort of statement and that it was, in effect, pretentious. I took it off.

    YMMD, but if you like what you're wearing, then wear it.

    Thanks @Chaz. :) I'm easily influenced by comments, one of which was that if one wears visible religious items, it's either proselytizing and/or overcompensating for insecurity in one's beliefs. I don't think it's either in my case, but it made me question myself.

    When I was Vaishnava I wore a set of tulsi neck beads. Actually I wore three... they kept breaking. I guess that was a sign I wasn't supposed to wear them. :wtf: :D

  • MaryAnne said:


    Buddhist jewelry and symbols (like the "Ohm" or malas, etc) to me don't seem specifically religious. And they certainly don't get mistaken to be malevolent in any way at all. Lots of people who don't know much about Buddhism, might easily think your Ohm tattoo or mala is about 'yoga' or meditation practices, you know- new agey stuff...

    ::: shrugs::: So really, it's up to you. If anyone questions you about your Buddhist jewelry or tatts, just give them a simple, brief answer and a dazzling smile. It will be fine! :D


    That's very true also, thanks. I do try to keep explanations short unless someone is genuinely interested in some facet of Buddhism or Hinduism. The pendant is about the size of a US quarter. I did neglect to mention that half of our warehouse employees are Indian. I don't interact with them (I'm in IT in the offices) except to go to the cafeteria. Usually no one notices, but sometimes I get a smile.
  • vinlyn said:

    If the intent is to disrespect other people and their choices, then I'm generally opposed to it.

    Do you mean from an overt proselytization angle and being condescending towards others who don't hold your beliefs? Like the woman in the jewelry store? If yes, I absolutely agree with you.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    vinlyn said:

    If the intent is to disrespect other people and their choices, then I'm generally opposed to it.

    Do you mean from an overt proselytization angle and being condescending towards others who don't hold your beliefs? Like the woman in the jewelry store? If yes, I absolutely agree with you.

    Let me give an extreme example. Let's say you took a large Buddhist amulet or Christian cross and disfigured it. I'd be opposed to that.

  • Definitely @vinlyn, I couldn't agree more. To do that, as well as showing general disrespect is totally reprehensible imo. Thanks for clarifying.
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    edited November 2013



    Thanks @Chaz. :) I'm easily influenced by comments, one of which was that if one wears visible religious items, it's either proselytizing and/or overcompensating for insecurity in one's beliefs.

    To say that simply wearing a "religious" item is proselytizing, or overcompensating for insecurity, is, in my mind, a bit presumptuous. I know a lot of people who wear crosses or pentangles and haven't the slightest inclination to proselytize, nor are they insecure.

    On the other hand if they're wearing it to make a statement such as "See? I'm a Christian/Buddhist/Wicca/Whatever", then as I said before, it might be pretentious, but little more than that.




    JainarayanKundo
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    I actually never really think about it at all.
    So many people wear so-called 'religious' symbols as a fashion statement, I never presume it's of importance to them.
    It's certainly not all that important to me.........
  • BonsaiDougBonsaiDoug Simply, on the path. Veteran
    Personally, it doesn't bother me at all, one way or the other.

    I believe we all know there is a huge industry built around "religious jewelry." You can't swing a dead cat around the 'Net without hitting a website devoted to wearable "religious" icons of some sort. If there are so many of them around, there must be a lot of money to be made. A lot of somebodies are wearing a lot of this stuff, for whatever reason.
    KundoJainarayan
  • These are really good answers, thanks to all. :)

    @MaryAnne said
    When I was at work, I used to keep it under my shirt. I just felt there was no reason to 'display' it to everyone.
    Other times I wore pagan jewelry that was a little bigger or flashier, but not at work, or at places where it wouldn't be right to call attention to myself like that (like at a church wedding, or other religious affairs)
    That makes a lot of sense.

    To that end I think I can compromise... at work I'll wear it under my shirt. Outside of work I'll wear it however it looks good, and how it makes me feel. Outside of work is not an issue at all. I'm not sure if I made that clear earlier. I think it's better to wear it concealed at work, not because there's anything inherently wrong (and we do still have the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion nor prohibit the free exercise thereof"). But I'm not friends with the people I work with, we're co-workers only. There are certain things I think one should keep private, and maybe this is one of them. To that end, maybe I should put away my little deity pictures too. After all, it's my work cubicle, not my home. I can cultivate mindfulness other ways.

    This may seem like over-thinking, but I do have ocpd. It's the nature of the beast. :o
  • matthewmartinmatthewmartin Amateur Bodhisattva Suburbs of Mt Meru Veteran
    It's the hats that make people go ballistic. Quebec and France fear the hats. Jordan hates hats, the US Air Force hates hats (Yarmulke for those two) Canadian soccer teams hate the hats (turbans). Disney hates the hats (headscarfs).

    You in Canada, US or elsewhere? It seems the Quebec and France really don't like you looking like you have a religion- no hats, jewelry, T-shirts, or underwear with religious text readable from outside your pants.

    I think everywhere else you are okay, as long as you don't wear a hat. God hates fags, but atheists _hate_ hats.**

    ** (This is a joke, please don't ban me)
  • Here is a pic of our local super hero in his pyjamas, on his way back from a London supermarket, that I took the other day. Either that or the full time monk who maintains the Peace Pagodain Battersea Park.

    Some Jain superheroes wear surgical masks to avoid inhaling insects, I have seen a couple of those in London. An Indian restaurant I used to go to had a devout male moustached 'married to Krishna' devotee, who as a wife wore a sari. Most people never saw the old lady who would clean the floors near closing time, who kept flinging her head scarf over her moustache . . .

    You worry about wearing a Buddha in a pouch around your neck or a mala? Dharma Bling? Dharma pride?

    I am thinking of wearing a Dharma Burqa (not yet available)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burqa

    Buddha Pride

  • lobster said:

    Here is a pic of our local super hero in his pyjamas, on his way back from a London supermarket, that I took the other day. Either that or the full time monk who maintains the Peace Pagodain Battersea Park.

    Some Jain superheroes wear surgical masks to avoid inhaling insects, I have seen a couple of those in London. An Indian restaurant I used to go to had a devout male moustached 'married to Krishna' devotee, who as a wife wore a sari. Most people never saw the old lady who would clean the floors near closing time, who kept flinging her head scarf over her moustache . . .

    You worry about wearing a Buddha in a pouch around your neck or a mala? Dharma Bling? Dharma pride?

    I am thinking of wearing a Dharma Burqa (not yet available)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burqa

    Buddha Pride

    If I'm stressing over wearing a religious pendant, can you imagine how I stressed over wearing a dhoti on Divali? (I chickened out.)

  • It's the hats that make people go ballistic. Quebec and France fear the hats. Jordan hates hats, the US Air Force hates hats (Yarmulke for those two) Canadian soccer teams hate the hats (turbans). Disney hates the hats (headscarfs).

    You in Canada, US or elsewhere? It seems the Quebec and France really don't like you looking like you have a religion- no hats, jewelry, T-shirts, or underwear with religious text readable from outside your pants.

    I think everywhere else you are okay, as long as you don't wear a hat. God hates fags, but atheists _hate_ hats.**

    ** (This is a joke, please don't ban me)

    I like hats. I used to wear a black Stetson. I wanted to become an Eastern Orthodox monk only so I could wear this hat and veil, the kamilavka and epanokamelavkion. My priorities were a little messed up. :o

    image
    matthewmartin
  • Lots of people in Thiland wear devotional and animistic jewellery .Some of it very very expesive like 1,000,000baht .I used to wear a Catholic Rosary outside my shirt as thats my religion . Though I was a Buddhist I enjoyed the wearing of it . If it feels right it probably is right .
  • Thanks all. I'm going with the "hey, this is me and what I believe". Not to mention the aesthetics of the items I have. They're not expensive by any means, but they look nice.
    MaryAnnematthewmartinKundo
  • footiamfootiam Veteran
    edited November 2013

    I posted this at another site, but I wanted some varied opinions (slow day).

    I have a tattoo on my right shoulder. It is visible when I'm sleeveless. I have a silver-tone pendant on a silver chain I wear. It is not large and gaudy. Usually I wear it under my shirt if I'm wearing a t shirt or other pullover. It's not ordinarily visible if I wear an open collar button down or polo shirt. Lately I've taken to wearing it outside my t shirt or pullover shirt.

    I see a lot of people wearing religious pendants... crosses and crucifixes, the Star of David, etc. Some are small and tasteful, others are huge and gaudy. I often see younger 'hood and hip-hop homies wearing enormous gold chains and crosses. Ashamedly I think :rolleyes: . I can't know, unless I ask, if it's a fashion statement or a genuine display of devotion.

    I'm of two minds about it. I wear the pendant because it represents something I believe, so why hide it. On the other hand, I don't want to be viewed as someone making a fashion statement or proselytizing. Of course because it is an unusual symbol people are either curious to know what it is or they don't even notice it; there are so many New Age religions with their own symbols, or people even wearing crystals or shark teeth that nothing is really that unusual unless it's an Aztec feather headdress.

    When I was in college I worked part time in a jewelry store. A family of three came in. The mother wore an enormous cross on a chain. Her son looked at some item, I think it may have been a zodiac pendant (why and how I remember these things from almost 40 years ago is beyond me). The mother proclaimed loudly (paraphrasing, my memory isn't that good): "Oh no you can't wear that, that is against our religion". One of my thoughts about it was proselytizing, another was arrogant pride and condescension; the owners of the store were not Christian.

    What do you think about visibly wearing religious jewelry or icons?

    I think it is something personal. Wearing religious jewellery or icons can be for fashion or for proselytizing. You have the last word. But that does not means others will listen.
    Kundo
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    One thing I find odd with some of our Hollywood types -- although I often saw it as well with the teens I used to work with -- was making a fashion statement, and then being insulted when someone disagreed with the statement. It's sort of like free speech, you may have a right to it, but others have a right to not like it...and say so.
    Kundo
  • howhow Veteran
    Yes, in the years when we rented houses as Buddhist centers where city licensing would have refused such usage, each one had a pretty visible ships wheel on display.
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    I always laugh at Bill Hicks' take on christians wearing crosses:

    A lot of Christians wear crosses around their necks. Do you think when Jesus comes back he's gonna want to see a f***ing cross?
    JainarayanhowKundoNiesje
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