Rambling for Kirwan Uniitng Church Keeping in Touch newsletter 16 May 2021
From time to time, I think about growing a beard. The longest time I’ve actually had a stab at this is around three weeks. I wonder whether I should compensate for diminishing follicular quantity on top of my head, by cultivating hair on the bottom of my head. It never works. It grows too slowly and too patchily.
Before I tell you where I’m going with this, I’m away at Presbytery Meeting in Innisfail, and Ministry Retreat at Cardwell, until Wednesday. On the way up, I’ll stop at Vivia Café in Cardwell for a yummy crab roll. Don’t go anywhere else, however enticing a large plastic crab on top of another establishment might be. And then during Retreat, and on the way home on Wednesday, I’ll grab some more crustacean joy.
So what have beards got to do with crab rolls? Well, one is mandated in OT law and contemporary Eastern Orthodox practice, and the other is verboten. So I’m in breach twice over. The most clear biblical passage for beards is Leviticus 19:27: “You shall not cut the hair on the sides of your heads, neither shall you clip off the edge of your beard.” Clement of Alexandra wrote that it is impious “to desecrate the symbol of manhood, hairness.” Writing in 195 CE., Clement also stated “But let the chin have the hair ... For an ample beard suffices for men. And if one, too, shave a part of his beard, it must not be made entirely bare, for this is a disgraceful sight.” Even today Christian clergy in Greece, Russia, Romania and other Orthodox communities wear untrimmed beards and hair. And crabs? Leviticus again, ch11 (It’s always Leviticus, what spoilsports those Mosaic scribes were) “But anything in the seas or the rivers that has not fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is detestable to you. You shall regard them as detestable; you shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall detest their carcasses. Everything in the waters that has not fins and scales is detestable to you.”
You’ll often encounter self-described “Christian leaders” thundering against stuff, and they always quote Leviticus. For my part, I go with Peter in superseding Acts 10: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” Or as the Harvest hymn (we don’t sing it at KUC, more’s the pity) has it:
All good things around us, are sent from heaven above,
So thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, for all His love.