Separatism, Individualism, Culture, and…Clothes?

Erik Wesner at Amish America pointed my attention to yet another resource on the Amish and other Anabaptist groups (there’s been a lot published lately). This one is by renowned Anabaptist scholar Donald Kraybill,  Concise Encyclopedia of Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites.

Erik’s post includes a brief interview with Kraybill, and he asked a great question: What aspects distinguish more conservative Anabaptists from more “liberal” ones? Kraybill pointed to two key components, (1) how separated from the world they were, and (2) whether moral authority is vested in the group or the individual. Then Kraybill noted that one can tell how separated from the world they are:

In short: it’s about separatism and individualism. I see dress as the key indicator of where a group stands on the continuum. Churches which require a prescribed dress for their members are toward the traditional whole because dress signals a more separatist boundary with the larger culture.

There’s a lot that could be said here. One thing I think of is that the culture is distinguished by its clothing (or lack thereof!). From an application standpoint, a believer’s relation and commitment to Christ and His church or the world is demonstrated by one’s clothing. Am I concerned about keeping up with the latest trends and fashions? How is that demonstrated in what I spend money on? I could keep going….