Preachers, make sure your britches are in order
I have heard that congregants are more likely to recollect the preacher’s attire than the content of his sermon.
It turns out this is nothing new.
Christine Leigh Heyrman in her book looking at evangelical faith in the American South during the 18th and 19th Centuries relays this account:
“Not only the pulpit skills of itinerants [or, preachers] but their private lives came in for close scrutiny by the laity—right down to their manner of dress. After preaching to a congregation in the winter of 1797, Jeremiah Norman was approached by ‘a poor man…to inspect my Pantaloons….Stooping down peeping [at] the kneeband [he] Said we have been disputing whether these were all in a piece or not but they are one.’ Irked that his audience had attended more closely to his britches than his sermon, Norman retorted, ‘I suppose Sir you did not dispute which of you would get to Heaven first or who would get the Most Religion.’ But the man replied simply that ‘there arose no such dispute among them’” (Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt, 96).