I. The Sword and the Shaving Brush
II. A Brief History of Clothing
III. The Three Aesthetic Problems
IV. Relativism, Immodesty, Evanglism
V. Solving the Three Aesthetic Problems
VI. Towards an Incarnational Aesthetic

VII. Nature and the Aim of Fiction
VIII. What’s So Bad About Immodesty?
IX. Look Good and Sin Not

X. Personhood, Not Propoganda


I’d like to thank Timothy Bartel for gracing us with the preliminary essays exploring a uniquely Christian approach to art, fashion, and dress. These thoughts serve as the germ of a book we certainly hope he writes, but we are happy and immensely grateful to publish the ‘world premiere’ of his initial explorations here on Mere Orthodoxy.

This insightful and playful tour de force analyzes the present attitudes and views on fashion, carefully identifying the root of our modern misunderstandings about clothes. It puts the blame where blame is due, on aesthetic relativism, rather than any of its symptoms, such as widespread immodesty of dress and the bastardization of fashion used as propaganda.


Having so diagnosed the problem, Bartel does not wallow in self-pity or vague invective, but proposes a cure: we must turn whole-heartedly to an incarnational aesthetic.

Rooted in what might be called the “Mosaic aesthetic” of the First Temple Priest’s garb, it finds the fullest expression of God’s view of fashion in the act of the Incarnation of the second Person of the Trinity. Not only does the incarnation radically effect our view of the body and the physical world as a whole, it affirms the use of clothing as an “imaging forth” of the clothed body and person. With this view of redeemed matter, and only with this view, can fashion be understood in its true light, as a matter of objective beauty or ugliness. With this fundamental misunderstanding corrected, modest dress, and the appropriate use of dress, become a matter of course.

Timothy Bartel is a Califonia naitve and graduate of Biola Univeristy and the Torrey Honors Institute with a BA in philosophy. He currently teaches for Torrey Academy, a classical high school program, and is working on an Masters of Fine Arts in Poetry at Seattle Pacific Univeristy. His academic interests include poetry, aesthetic theory, and classical philosophy. In his spare times he acts and writes fiction and poetry.

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Posted by Keith E. Buhler

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