Friday, September 23, 2011

There Oughta Be a (Catholic) Book

Here at the Catholic Post Book Group blog, I’m starting a new feature in which I don’t review a book, but suggest that someone write a book, from a Catholic perspective.  A truly Catholic perspective is reasonable, intelligent and attractive on many levels.  So here goes!

First up is a reasonable book about modesty, from a Catholic perspective, primarily for younger people.   I’m pretty sure such a book doesn’t exist, but if it does please let me know in the comments.

I participated recently in a very spirited Facebook group discussion about modesty, and I was so appreciative of different perspectives, but still felt that how to dress at Mass (much less other times) is like the third rail of Catholic culture.  How to talk about this subject in a reasonable (and I'm completely stressing the reasonable here) way with our children?

Last month, my daughters and I attended (with several other families) a large event at a local evangelical church called “Secret Keeper Girl Live!”  It was fun, and sparkly—almost a little too sparkly.  (Not that it isn’t “Catholic” to be sparkly.  Here’s what I loved: the girls and their moms were encouraged in dressing and acting as daughters of the King.    They gave very specific, super helpful advice about dressing with modesty—various very practical tests to see if a top was too skimpy, a skirt too short.

Here’s what I didn’t love:  it was a little overwhelming, noise and pink-wise, for me.  There was an altar call at the end, always a little awkward for Catholics not wanting to seem holier than thou (um, do I want to ask Jesus into my heart?  I already receive Him every time I go to Mass, but thanks anyway).  Also, I found myself underwhelmed by the "fashion show" portion of the evening, which featured fashions that were cheesier and more “Disney” than my tastes, though all outfits were perfectly modest.  I’m just more of an LL Bean gal.

I really don’t want to make it sound in any way bad, because it was really wonderful in encouraging girls to believe in true inner beauty, both in how we look and how we act.    Dana Gresh, the creator of the events, has a helpful series of books for girls and moms, including one called Secret Keeper, and while we found it interesting and a helpful read for discussion, it lacked a truly Catholic vision.  Our family got a chance to look up modesty in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), and that helped us round out the discussion the book and the event started.

But still, I want a (Catholic) book!   So there “oughta” be a (Catholic) book.

A recent Catholic book to talk over body image, and touch on modesty a bit, is Kate Wicker’s thoughtful new book Weightless: Making Peace With Your Body.  Weightless is  an excellent book and a longer review of that is coming.  But that is written more for older teens and adults, more specifically about body image than dressing and acting in way that is modest. I really want something I can hand to my children (both boy and girls) to read (having read it first), and then discuss casually here and there.

Here are two quick nominations for someone to write this book:

*Hallie Lord:  she’s the popular blogger of Betty Beguiles “Beauty, Fashion and Style … with a Vintage Twist.”  She features a lot of good discussions about fashion as well as Catholic issues.  She’d be great and very encouraging to young women who love fashion, because she does so much herself love fashion.

*Rebecca, a young screenwriter who writes the Modestia blog, “Fashion. Modesty. & General Fabulousity.”   And this blog is fabulous (or has fabulosity?)—she features a lot of fun appropriate fashion, many times featuring new Princess Kate.  I so enjoy her sensible take on things.

What do you think of this idea for a book?   Do you have any nominations of people who should write this book?   Do you have any suggestions of an “oughta be” Catholic book?


  1. From what I hear, Hallie and friends are already writing this book!

    (Some sparse details here--

  2. I love this idea! I have definite opinions about the meaning of the word "modest" but don't feel that I have enough authority to instruct others in the matter.

    Also, I was excited to visit Rebecca's blog, but it looks like the link isn't working. Darn! I'll come back to check on it later :)

  3. Nancy: Olivia's Gift (the sequel to Olivia and the Little Way)! The modesty theme (as well as pro-life theme) is woven into the entire book. I am really hoping that girls (and boys, for that matter) are inspired by Olivia and Hayley's actions as they are faced with immodest dress and behavior.

  4. Dwija, I think I fixed the link. Check it out; it's such a cool site and she has great taste!

    Brandon, I LOVED seeing that Hallie is writing a book. I'm sure it will be great whatever she writes. I'm just crossing my fingers it would be young person-geared.

    Nancy, I SO agree that Olivia's Gift handles this issue beautifully. I know we've had discussions at our house about that part of the book. Also, I think Olivia's Gift handles something else about modesty--not just dressing but acting in a way that is authentically you, instead of behaving just like you see on TV or in the culture. Olivia struggles with that, too. Thanks for reminding me.

  5. Nancy, All Things Girl: Modern & Modest by Teresa Tomeo, Molly Miller, and Monica Cops covers fashion and modesty in a Catholic mindset. I'm not sure how LLBean you'll find the fashions, tho ;) I've a copy if you'd like to borrow (I think it's pricey for the volume of information).

  6. Melissa, I do want to borrow that from you. I had forgotten this series, and had read through several volumes when it came out a few years back. While I admire Teresa Tomeo, as well as what she & the authors were trying to achieve, I remember finding the tone "off" in certain sections. Since I can't recall what my objections were, I should probably take another look before I make statements.

  7. Thanks, Nancy! That certainly would be a fun book to write. The book I'm working on right now is intended for an older audience but I'll mention this idea to my editor! :)

  8. Hallie, I look forward to reading your book, regardless of audience!