Friday, February 01, 2008

What I did on my winter retreat...

I made my retreat this week at St. Meinrad Abbey in southern Indiana, about 60 miles west of Louisville. I've been on retreat there before, although its been a few years. They built a new guest house, which is very nice; I recommend it. The monks get up at 5:30 am to pray the morning office; but pastors on retreat get up when they get up. It was very nice to focus on prayer and have time to read.

I left there this morning, and got back to Cincinnati about 1 pm; I thought I'd see a movie. I decided to see Cloverfield, (warning: I'm going to talk about the plot!) mainly because it's about a monster wrecking Manhattan -- what's wrong with that plot?

Here is what I have to say about the movie: it's a great movie to see, if you want to throw up. I didn't realize it was filmed, like Blair Witch Project, in "Herky-Jerky-Vision" (the idea is that the whole movie is filmed on a hand-held camera) and I spent most of the film with my eyes closed. I should have left, but I came to see the monster! And it was a pretty impressive creature.

After that, I headed to Dayton to meet a brother priest for dinner, but I was ahead of schedule, so I did a little shopping; I needed some shoes and some sweaters, and lo and behold, they were marked way down as I think they usually are this time of year.

I don't make a point to visit malls; my favorite method of shopping is like that of military special ops (at least as movies tell the story): get in, get "the package," and get your team out double-time!.

Anyway, I walk into the mall, and my stomach is still doing flip-flops, and I think, "I need to eat something"; then something hits my nose that smells really good; it's a pretzel stand nearby. "What can I get you Sir?" a pleasant young lady asks me; "whatever that is that smells so good!" It was a cinnamon pretzel; okay, sounds fine. "Would you like some icing with that?" Okay, I guess. Three bucks and change later, I look at what I have: a soft pretzel, completely encrusted in sugar and cinnamon, and just in case I'm feeling a little sugar-deprived, a little container of "dipping sauce." What? No ice cream or sprinkles?

Have you been to a mall lately? (I get there a couple times a year, I'm not totally out of touch.) Have you walked by an Abercrombie or Hollister store? Does anyone else think there is something very wrong going on here: the only thing you see is a huge poster, in the doorway, featuring four or five very attractive young people (they looked about college age) artfully photographed in black-and-white, and--this is the notable point for a clothing store--that they wore clothing seemed an afterthought. One young man seemed in danger of stepping out of his jeans entirely, the only article of clothing he was wearing. A similar emphasis on "male pulchritude" (to use William F. Buckley's uptown expression) carried through in the other posters I could see as I walked by.

Next store was "Abercrombie for kids" -- the main franchise is aimed, supposedly, at college and above, while this other store is aimed at high school; yeah, right. meanwhile, "Hollister" is a subsidiary of Abercrombie that, from all appearances, takes essentially the same approach.

Parents, what do you think about this? Do you think this is okay? When you see these porny images--and then your kids dress that way, is that really how you want to see your kids? Anyone care to tell me I'm making too much of this?

After this, I headed to the restaurant; I got there way before my friend, so I told the waitress it was okay if she ignored me (and, yes, I gave her extra in the tip); when my friend didn't show at the expected time, I called him, left a message; about 10 minutes he called me back: "are you in the restaurant? Where? Stand up!" He was at another table, the other side of the place, and had been for 10 minutes or so.

We had a nice visit over dinner, and I headed back here to check in, and throw some more vanities on the bonfire.


MeinSouth said...

We absolutely do NOT visit nor purchase any AF clothing or accessories! They are GROSS! GROSS! You are not alone I assure you. And the parents that do visit the stores I do not think realize the GROSSness of it. Maybe they are blind and numb or dumb.

Glad you enjoyed your retreat!

barbfromcincy said...

I hate those stores...they actually feel evil to me and I never take my 15 or 14 year old sons to a mall. Mainly because of those disgusting pictures and places like Victoria's Secret.I only go to a mall when absolutely necessary...once or twice a year.
I hope you had a blessed retreat, Father.

beez said...

Father -

About 10 years ago (yes, that long ago) Buckley wrote an article in National Review about the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. He went into the store to get a pair of cargo pants and thought about getting a catalog. The kid behind the counter told him they kept it there and had to charge for it because "it's kinda porn-y."

I don't understand a clothing store that is more about nudity than clothes. Why would you shop there? The message, to me, is "our clothes don't last very long and soon you'll be naked."

Father Martin Fox said...


Yes, I remember that article by Buckley, I was referencing it obliquely. I didn't realize it was ten years ago!

Anonymous said...

Welcome home, Father! Isn't St. Meinrad's a wonderful place? I am an Oblate of St. M's, and have visited there many times, the last being December. I agree that the guest house is quite nice, and I have also stayed in St. Anselm Hall, which is quite comfortable, too. You would recognize me at church, because I am usually carrying a black tote bag with "Saint meinrad Archabbey" on the side. Again, welcome home.

Anna B. said...

I feel the same way about The Gap..

Anonymous said...

My daughter is only two, but I understand that the older girls get the harder it is to find them clothes that I would be willing to have them wear. Jeans and a t-shirt are fine, but they do need to cover relevant areas and not have nasty messages on them. And I'm already buying dresses a size larger to get them long enough to cover the diaper. I gather from illustrations in older books that people used to dress younger girls (how young?) in very short dresses.

The boys are easier, although again I don't see many designs on t-shirts I would buy.


Father Martin Fox said...


What's the issue with the Gap? I haven't seen anything offensive in its advertising, not that I pay a lot of attention; Gap and Old Navy struck me as sensible alternatives to Hollister and Abercrombie.

Anna B. said...

Some of their billboards along the freeways are too sensuous, half clothed models.

Barb, sfo said...

Being mall-avoidant, I only just found out about Hollister this Christmas when several people gave my 12-year-old daughter shirts & hoodies from that store. I've never been in it--and won't...I'd rather not patronize Abercrombie.

I'm not impressed with the Hollister clothing. I'm sure it was pricey, and as my mom would say, "you can spit through those shirts." They're no Beefy-Ts, that's for sure.

Mamawoody said...

Even though I have boys, I still insist that they dress appropraitely. Whoever thought that letting your pants fall down over your behind and thought it looked cool is CRAZY! I can't believe it caught on. It's not cool, to me it says you can't afford a belt. I can just hear my dad's voice now, "Go put on a belt!"

Every time I go into any store, I am thankful that we do have boys and not girls. When did dressing your prek daughter like a hooker beome the style? Why do parents insist on dressing their children to look like grown ups? Why are parents so afraid to be parents?

Glad you had a nice retreat.


Anonymous said...

glad to have you back fr..& shopping..with 8 daughters i avoid it like the plague!

Kelly said...

You might find this news article timely. Looks like some Virginians feel the same way about A & F. :)

Anonymous said...

My husband and I never permitted our daughter or son to wear clothing with advertising on it, even though when she was in high school our daughter explained to us that, "Everybody does it".

This was in the 80s. Various people warned us that if we didn't allow our children to dress like "everyone else" it could lead to emotional trauma, etc. What it led to was our children growing up and espousing the same policy for their own children. Score a big one for Mom and Dad!

Now a generation later the same companies are exploiting their young consumers not only by forcing them to advertise the company, but also by sexualising young people's clothing in order to draw attention to the ads they wear promoting the company.

Parents, listen to a grandma - it's ok to forbid your children to shop in popular stores where the merchandise exploits the consumer for the sake of company profit. Just say no. It's ok! I promise!

Parents, Christians, and Americans need to think before they buy. We absolutely must stop being naive and gullible.


Fr. N said...

St. Meinrad is an ARCHabbey and it's superior an Archabbot. Great place. I studied there for part of my seminary training long ago.