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The Wars Over Christian Beards
January 26, 2014 10:00 PM   Subscribe

To shave or not to shave? That is the question which has divided the Christian Church for 2000 years.
posted by cthuljew (40 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Such a simpleminded issue to fight over. Muslim theologians debate more important questions, like what is the beard?
posted by BinGregory at 10:14 PM on January 26 [5 favorites]


How many angels can dance on a plate of beans?
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:19 PM on January 26 [6 favorites]


Oh, if only beards were the most divisive issue in Christianity . . .
posted by ADave at 10:21 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


I thought the whole point of celibacy is that you don't need a beard.

you knew someone would
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:21 PM on January 26 [15 favorites]


Reminds me of this YouTube video I came across after a friend posted something by this guy on social media: "How to Grow a Manly Beard" - a 'hip' Muslim perspective on hipster beards...
posted by jardinier at 10:38 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


Now almost all our fellow countrymen are crazy and wear little beards, openly proclaiming by such a token that they revel in filthy lusts like stinking goats.

That's a big proclamation for a little beard.
posted by this is a thing at 10:43 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


"We have now for many centuries triumphed over nature to the extent of making certain secondary characteristics of the male (such as the beard) disagreeable to nearly all the females—and there is more in that than you might suppose." —C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters.

It took 60 years to bring the beard back, but only 10 years to bring back female pubic hair?

I feel sure there's a lesson in this for all of us.
posted by Mezentian at 10:43 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Openly proclaiming by such a token that they revel in filthy lusts like stinking goats.
posted by No-sword at 11:58 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]


NO MORE FUCKIN BEARDS!

-Buddy Rich
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:06 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


Christians have certainly had some odd shaving practices, but I always sort of assumed these things were motivated by the personal interests of the church hierarchy. I'm guessing it was a bald Pope, for example, who came up with the idea that all priests should shave the top of their heads. (Similarly it was probably a bald rabbi that came up with the idea of the skull cap.)
posted by three blind mice at 12:53 AM on January 27


I would totally grow a beard if I could get the stinking goat look, instead I end up looking like a second-rate Rashkolnikov.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:08 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


Give us this day
Our daily beard
posted by chavenet at 1:12 AM on January 27 [9 favorites]


HOW CAN THERE BE AN ARTICLE ABOUT POINTLESS THEOLOGICAL DIVISIONS OVER BEARDS AND IT DOESN'T CONTAIN THE PHRASE "SPLITTING HAIRS"?
posted by MuffinMan at 2:46 AM on January 27 [24 favorites]


It took 60 years to bring the beard back, but only 10 years to bring back female pubic hair?

In the FPP, it lists: "1535: Henry VIII taxes beards." Was there a tax on pubic hair starting in the late 1990s?
posted by Dip Flash at 3:24 AM on January 27


Have you not heard of Brazilian protectionism?
posted by MuffinMan at 3:31 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


It seems clear that Christians should follow the example set in "Jesus Shaves."
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:01 AM on January 27 [7 favorites]


GenjiandProust, you are the worst. THE VERY WORST.
posted by Mezentian at 5:05 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


I'll also point out that Jesus was a carpenter not a carpeter. The implications are clear.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:15 AM on January 27 [4 favorites]


Jesus was way cool
Everybody liked Jesus
Everybody wanted to hang out with him
Anything he wanted to do, he did
He turned water into wine
And if he wanted to
He could have turned wheat into marijuana
Or sugar into cocaine
Or vitamin pills into amphetamines
posted by Mezentian at 5:21 AM on January 27 [4 favorites]


This is one of the things that attracts me to Lutheranism. Beard? OK. No Beard? OK. Beer? OK. No Beer? OK.

Really, lets just teach the kids and help the poor. OK?
posted by Sphinx at 5:27 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


Sphinx, you left out "Salvation by Grace," which, historically, was more contentious than even beards.

And didn't Luther say "Here I stand. I can grow no other. God help me?"
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:33 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]




A vivid reminder that it wasn't only women's bodies the church wanted to control.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:40 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


three blind mice: " (Similarly it was probably a bald rabbi that came up with the idea of the skull cap.)"

Ashkenazi Jews are actually the exception to the rule here, not the norm.

Anthropologically speaking, there are skullcap traditions prevalent in one form or another in nearly every culture*, going back thousands of years. In most of them, wearing a skullcap was not associated with religious ritual, but were often worn just to protect the top of the skull or for decorative purposes.

* I know that Aborigines, Native Americans and Polynesians did not (do not) have skullcap traditions. There are probably a few others.

The ancient Israelites wore headdresses. The skullcap tradition in Judaism is an outgrowth of that. Jews still debate whether they should be worn at all, either during religious rituals or simply to show deference.
posted by zarq at 7:24 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


And didn't Luther say "Here I stand. I can grow no other. God help me?"

I don't know why it's contentious... I'm pretty sure Romans says "If you grow a beard, grow it to the Lord; if you shave a beard, shave it to the Lord." Or something.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:24 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I grew my Van Dyke specifically to look become more evil.
posted by malocchio at 7:31 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


I'm relieved that they're arguing over the important issues.
posted by hell toupee at 7:33 AM on January 27


... says the hairpiece from Hades.

Personally, I do what God did. I work all week, and on the seventh day, I shave.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:45 AM on January 27


Always relevant
posted by zippy at 8:08 AM on January 27


On a related note, IIRC, (and my google-fu is failing me this morning, so my info may be off) there was a very serious debate in the Catholic church in regards to head wear, namely concerning which is more acceptable to God: hats or hooded cloaks. There were some who saw hats as a pretentious elevation of status and vanity, where others saw hooded cloaks a nefarious attempt to hide from God and deceive others. After an unbelievably long formal debate in front of the Pope. In the end, the Pope sided with the supporters of hats, and the popularity of hooded cloaks accelerated its decline that had been going on since hats in western Europe started catching on in 11th century.

Here's link to the only thing I could find on the matter that speaks of the attitudes of the two sides of the argument, but not the papal debate: An Illustrated History of Hats, Genin, 1850.
posted by chambers at 8:43 AM on January 27


This is the best possible time for me to recommend that anyone interested in this topic read the fantastic book "Beards: Their social standing, religious involvements, decorative possibilities, and value offence and defence through the ages" by Reginald Reynolds. It is probably the only book ever to examine the relationship between pogonotrophy, hippophagy and paganism, while discussing the various ways in which beards were either promoted or persecuted in the church.
posted by bepe at 9:15 AM on January 27 [4 favorites]


Benedictine monk Otloh of St. Emmeram tells the story of a man accused of stealing a horse. A priest called to prepare the man for confession points out another "sin": "Although you are a layman and should go about with your beard unshaven in the manner of laymen, you have nevertheless, in contempt of divine law, shaved your beard just like a cleric." Seeking absolution, the man promises, "Never again shall a razor touch my beard." But a short time later he shaved, noting that his promise applied only to razors, not to sharp knives. "Divine vengeance swiftly followed such presumption," wrote Otloh. "For soon afterwards, he was captured by his enemies and deprived of sight when his eyes were gouged out."

This is exactly why I never shave.

Also, I join bepe in recommending the Reynolds book (I've never known anybody else who was familiar with it!).
posted by languagehat at 9:27 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


the relationship between pogonotrophy, hippophagy and paganism

Looks legit to me. Back when I was a beard-wearing pagan, I ate at least as many horses in a week as I now do in a year.
posted by this is a thing at 9:44 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Should I shave or should I grow?
If I grow there will be stubble
If I shave there will be trouble
Come on and let me know
Should I shave or should I grow?
posted by jadepearl at 7:49 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


...wait, female pubic hair is back? Is shaving your junk only for, like, old people now? Because I certainly haven't noticed this trend. Am I part of a ten-year-wide cohort of strange people who will forever go through their lives thinking that bald genitals on women is a normal thing?
posted by Scientist at 8:04 PM on January 27


female pubic hair is back??!!!1111

WoOt!
posted by lastobelus at 9:01 PM on January 27


It's totally coming back. I mean you can argue with American Apparel but can you argue with Cameron Diaz?

When Corporations tell you something, when Celebrities tell you something you can take that to the bank.

(Has this news not made it to The Blue?)
posted by Mezentian at 11:38 PM on January 27


I think we've had so many vituperative arguments about that subject, people avoid discussing it.

I have preferences in that area, and I will NOT be stating them on MeFi.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:25 PM on January 31




That just sounds like the worst sequel to Riding In Cars With Boys.
posted by Mezentian at 5:16 AM on February 25


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