Taking Mannequins Out of Windows: The Battle of Rules Vs. Grace

A recent article in the New York Times spoke of the “Modesty Squads” in certain Hasidic neighborhoods in NYC who have taken a form of vigilante justice on themselves in order to establish what they deem as “modesty” in their neighborhood.  These informal groups make no pretense of their agenda … to enforce through direct coercion the maintenance of what they hold as the proper standards of modesty, down to even asking several stores, with veiled threats just underneath the surface, to remove mannequins from their windows.

This is pat of the sad legacy of most faiths including Christianity  … a toxic element within bent on some sort of enforced purity that it mistakenly believes appeases God.  They act darkly, as one commenter noted, out of a a belief that they are “protecting God and have to do this kind of stuff, and that is sickening and gives us all a black eye.”  Such a faith is attractive to a certain type of marginalized outlier but proves to many, unfortunately, the very achilles heal and hypocrisy embedded in organized religion.  Religion is seen much more as “rules” than as “grace.”

And grace is where the power of faith, I would hold, lies.  In a recent survey, it was the top word people who like religion used to describe their faith.  Grace-in-action is captured in these moving words by Anne Voscamp.

That thundering question of Where is God?

Is best answered when the people of God offer a hand and whisper: Here I am.

That thundering question of Where is God?

Is best answered when the people of God tear everything else away and take the time to show it: Here’s His love for you – beating right here, right here in me, right here for you.

Such reaching moves lovingly away from rules to grace.

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2 Responses to “Taking Mannequins Out of Windows: The Battle of Rules Vs. Grace”

  1. Gordon M Latta says:

    Chuck -

    This is an interesting question, indeed.
    You stated:
    “And grace is where the power of faith, I would hold, lies.”
    I would suggest that Faith lies in the power of Grace. That is, Grace is a humanly understood part of Divine Love (not that humans understand Divine Love; we clearly don’t!). But, as unimaginable as Divine Love is to humans, we all feel an unexplainable urge to treat others, at the very least, as we wish to be treated. Why is that? What is that innate urge? I would suggest that that is Grace not Faith.
    Is it not Grace that causes Faith? How can you have Faith without an understanding of the Grace that has given you the choice to believe or deny?

  2. Gordon M Latta says:

    PS – nevermind. Having re-read your article, I see that that is precisely what you were trying to say. My bad.

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