Céire Kealty is a doctoral student in theology at Villanova University, where she studies fashion theory, spirituality, and ethics.
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This Lent I'm Fasting From Retail Therapy
For the past month, I struggled to decide what to “fast” from. Quiet contemplation bore rich insights for Christian monastics, so I turned to silence and tried to listen to God. But no sooner did I seek out a moment of quiet, than I heard the unmistakable ping of my inbox coaxing me to “Act now!” “Check out these deals!” “Hurry!” and “Buy, buy, buy, buy!” Regardless of the brand, these retail messages are constant, pervasive, and often persuasive.
The Demon, the Desert, and the Wardrobe
Monstrous mountains of our own making are growing in number in the driest non-polar desert on Earth.
How Your Church Should Respond to Long COVID
THROUGHOUT THE PANDEMIC, church attendance has varied wildly. As precautions have fluctuated with every ebb and flow of the virus, congregants have had to balance their attendance with health concerns—and this balancing act has proven even more complicated for high risk and immunocompromised parishioners.
Government officials and political figures now encourage citizens to “live with COVID.” The faithful may be puzzled by still-empty pews. Where are our neighbors? Have they lost faith? Or do they still “live in fear”? These assumptions fail to consider a more troubling reality: Some neighbors are suffering from long-term illness resulting from COVID-19.
Though recent viral variants have been touted as mild, reports show that many people who tested positive for COVID-19 can struggle with ongoing health problems. This condition, called “long COVID,” affects one in three people who came down with the virus and had symptoms for months following the initial infection. A 2021 study shows that 57 percent of people who contracted COVID-19 were still experiencing symptoms up to six months after testing positive—including cardiovascular issues, neurological problems, brain fog, muscle pain, and fatigue. For sufferers, long COVID is debilitating and life-altering.
What Your Clothes Say About You, According to the Bible
Today, believers can strive to keep their priorities consistent with their dress. Before purchasing a Jesus T-shirt, wearers should consider if the garment was made under safe and fair working conditions. Believers can use their voice to pressure beloved clothing brands to respect the dignity of garment workers, through living wages and good working conditions. Believers can also wear clothes that reflect the dignity of the earth, choosing clothes from eco-conscious brands, or just by buying second-hand.
This Valentine's Day, Fair Trade Chocolate Isn't Enough
Valentine’s Day is the day of romantic love. If we take our cues from advertisements, it’s an opportunity to purchase and consume flower bouquets, candies, chocolate-covered strawberries, and frilly negligees — gifts we bestow upon our beloveds to show the depths of our love. But many of the gifts we give on Valentine’s Day are made available for our consumption through the exploitation of others; they convey romantic love at the expense of love of neighbor.
Whose Suffering Are You Wearing?
OUR CLOTHES BEAR more than our personal style. Stitched into favorite garments is the suffering of those who made them.
From Bangladesh to Vietnam, millions of garment workers are exploited to feed the burgeoning demand for ready-made wardrobes. These workers endure unsafe working conditions and workplace abuse to meet the mounting quotas imposed by hungry clothing brands—all while being paid pennies per hour.
Garment workers’ labor conditions seized the attention of international media in 2013 when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, killing more than 1,100 people. This disaster accelerated the work of human rights organizations such as the Worker Rights Consortium, the Maquila Solidarity Network, and the Clean Clothes Campaign that were already collaborating withcorporations to implement safety protocols in the supply chains. This collaboration birthed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (the “Bangladesh Accord”), which was the first international agreement to include global brands, retailers, and trade unions in a legally binding framework.