Upon writing this piece of literature that will undoubtedly be canonized in the annals of art with such pieces as Macbeth, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Fast and the Furious, I am looking at an advertisement that reads, “Click here to reveal the top 15 sexiest nationalities!” While I do appreciate these so-called “Smart Ads” for being both concerned with my lack of any online relationship presence and correctly assuming my deep interest in the cultivation of sexiness, I thought I would take it a step further and relate such an important list to the Christian context we here at LAMP work within. Now, I could have written about how labeling an entire people group as “sexy” seems to visually generalize and gentrify that group as a whole to a ridiculous degree, or about whether dual-nationals are possibly made half-seventh sexiest by their respective ethnicities (or conversely, maybe doubly-third), OR even made a blog post on the objectification of physical beauty, since no one has ever done that before.
But that’s no fun.
- The Anabaptists
Oh boy, here come the Anabaptists. These people were the early forerunners of the eventual Amish and Mennonite groups. Now, I know you may be thinking “Ok, Adam, I do love my organic carrots and illegally non-pasteurized milk, but how are these people sexy?” One word, my chums: attitude. These dudes had it. If you put any stock in the “I did it before it was cool” mantra, then look no further. The Anabaptists proposed their theological leanings so far ahead of their time that no one ever really thought they were cool at all. Like, they were burned at the stake and given what ol’ King Ferdinand of Spain called “the third baptism” as the true antidote to Anabaptism. You want commitment to your persona; you want charisma that exudes “Pff. Whatever?” The Anabaptists had it.
Maybe you’re still unconvinced. Maybe you don’t think some Amish-looking people can overcome their Amish-ness in the name of sexy with attitude alone. You need some style, something of substance to bite into, like a succulent mango fresh from the tree, or the word “succulent.” Fine. Let me direct your attention to this hat.
I understand it’s hard to not focus on Beyoncé, but take a look at her headgear for a second. We’ve got a full-blown Amish hat on Beyoncé, who is standing beside Jay Z and the Mona Lisa. It’s not obnoxious, but also not unassuming. It’s bold but knows its role. And if the only thing the Anabaptists ever did for their sexiness ranking was to inspire a splinter group to wear a hat that Beyoncé would eventually also wear, they are far sexier than you or me.
- The Great Awakening (Vol. I)
We’re not concerned with the second, third, or even fourth Great Awakenings. The original’s always better than the sequel, and trilogies are a sure way to kill the soul of your source material this side of Return of the King. Just ask Christopher Nolan. The first Great Awakening was marked by massive crowds and preachers taking their preaching back to the streets, and nobody did it better than the guy George Whitefield. Confidence, swagger, charisma, and the knack for saying the right things in tense situations, Whitefield had it all. No one was passing the mic to him, 1. because he was pretty much the greatest street-preacher of all time, and 2. microphones weren’t going to be invented for another century or so. Yes, there were other important MCs working the Great Awakening (shouts out Jonathan Edwards), but Whitefield hit it out of the park consistently. He even had Ben Franklin giving it up, a noted Deist and non-Church attendee. Bonus points for winning both the spiritual hearts of the people and the brains of the Founding Father Operation.
On the style front, Whitefield seemed a pretty unassuming corpulent white guy. But some of his portraits reveal both an impressive wig and an equally impressive lazy eye. Whitefield liked to go with the extra curls. And if you can get people to respect you and actually listen to what you’re saying while your eyes are crossed that bad, you must be pretty sexy.
- Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuits
High fives to the one Catholic that none of the other Catholics never really had a major problem with (see: tried to execute or excommunicate). Ignatius grew up a pretty cocky soldier, taking a liking to dueling people in his native Spain. Giving up his soldier life for the path of a monk following his conversion, Ignatius set up the Jesuits, a highly respected monastic order well-known for their hard work and influential views on education. Ignatius was sainted (beatified, in the fancy terminology) and eventually canonized in the 1600s, and his longevity of popularity is remarkable for an institution as famous for their religious policies as they are for, you know, the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition and all the death and stuff.
Ignatius was a pretty great guy by all accounts, but let me tell you, his robes were something else entirely. I don’t know if Iggy was always rocking stuff like this around the monastery, but he was stuntin’ on the other monks on at least a semi-regular basis. Note the red and gold motifs, almost like a home and away uniform style with the switching of primary and accent colors. He’s also mixing up his patterns to keep it interesting. Note the flower and other natural imagery in gold on the red primary, while the primarily gold outfit switches up the prints into more “religious image” style. They’re just too good, and Ignatius earns number three on this list through sheer sartorial quality.
- The Emergent Church and their black-rimmed glasses
I know a lot of people in the theology crowd like to spontaneously burst into flames at the mention of Rob Bell’s name, but to deny he pioneered one of the strongest and most consistent style games in Christian culture is to do a disservice. First off, the Nooma videos almost single-handedly introduced American Christian culture in the early 2000s to little things called “graphic design” and “color theory,” as we really hadn’t changed the way we presented visual media since the heyday of the Religious Right. These videos were undeniably cool: slick presentation, visually interesting and metaphorical subject matter, and even background music that wasn’t Point of Grace. The Emergent Church crowd really adopted this focus on aesthetics and made the Church, for the first time in a long time, look sexy.
But it’s impossible to not talk about those glasses. What hip pastor didn’t have those things in 2005? What hip pastor doesn’t have those things in 2014? Classy black, square-rimmed to denote both the intellectualism inherent in the Emergent pastors and reflecting the early days of the rise of Nerd-dom, the Church had a legitimate trendsetter on its hands. And while opinions remain largely (and rather viciously) split on the actual theological propositions put forth by the Emergents, their aesthetic is undeniable.
- Martin Luther and the Ninety-Five Theses
I’m sorry it ended like this. It’s not terribly exciting, a bit like starting a big countdown of greatest quarterbacks of all time and then ending it with Peyton Manning; it makes sense, but you really just wanted to see something crazy happen; you wanted to see me name someone from the Bills.
But, sometimes the safe picks are the best ones. The irony inherent in this safe pick is that the Ninety-Five Theses was anything but safe; for Luther, it was probably the riskiest thing he could possibly do. He questioned nearly every practice the Catholic church had (outside of the worshipping Jesus thing), and then instead of just, I don’t know, giving it to a messenger to send to a priest or something like that, HE NAILS IT TO THE DOOR OF HIS UNIVERSITY CHURCH. This was akin to making an official university-wide announcement, something everyone would readily see and disseminate amongst everyone else they knew. Luther did not know subtlety. In fact, his blunt nature even inspired a present-day Martin Luther Insult Generator, making him one of the only Reformation-era preachers with an active online presence. Martin Luther: OG bad boy of Christianity and Protestantism, and the sexiest of the sexy in the realm of theological movements.
 Apparently you can even buy “inner beauty jewelry” at that link. GO CRAZY FOLKS
 That is violent forced-drowning, in case you can’t read between the lines there.
 Even though that trend has passed in the current style climate by and large. Classic American Church.
 My favorite so far is Luther telling me that I am “a crude ass, and an ass you shall remain!” Thank you, founding father of my faith.