“Me and God have an understandin’,” he said. “He don’t put on airs and I don’t either.”
That’s how I feel, also. Maybe it’s because I spent a dozen years in Hawaii and now live in Florida, but I can’t imagine any reason for owning, much less wearing, a tie. A suit, forget it. As far as church is concerned, I shouldn’t have to get all dressed up to talk to a God who created me naked.
Of course, I have worn a suit in the past for weddings and funerals, but it was always under duress. And there have been some very special occasions where I have worn a tie. For instance, I recently wore a tie for the engagement party of a young couple I am very fond of, but I did so with the promise of tequila and an open bar. I was the unofficial official photographer for the affair and from the eight-hundred or so photos that I took, it appears that I had a really good time.
But what does this have to do with wearing sneakers to church? Well, everything.
When I was young, I first attended a Catholic Church, then a Methodist Church. Both left me with the distinct impression that attendance was more about seeing and being seen, ensuring that the “church uniform” gave the right impression, than worshiping God. Now don’t get me wrong, while I don’t approve of dressing for show, I don’t endorse “dressing down” simply to give the impression of meekness, either. My mother tells the story of how, if he was going to the bank to apply for a loan, my Dad used to wear his oldest clothes in the belief the impression of need would somehow influence the banker to approve the loan. The banker could see through the deception and so can God.
Maybe this is one of the those much touted “first world problems”. In most of America, we actually have the option to present ourselves as rich or poor, simply to create the impression we believe will help us most. I use the term “present ourselves” because I don’t believe that, even in America, do we have the choice to be rich or poor. Our station, our class, and our jobs are largely determined for us by forces that are beyond our control.
So much of what we do in this life is about creating an image of conformity, rather than living our lives to their fullest potential. We are influenced by the expectations of our parents, our siblings and friends, our society, our jobs, and organizations we belong to (including the church). To my mind, the only thing that should hold sway over us is that of the greater good of mankind as a whole. Once every belly is full, every child educated, and every disease cured should there be time or effort expended to feed the ego of either man or god.
Until then, I’ll wear jeans and sneakers to church and resist putting on airs for the sake of placing myself above my fellows. I will write what I want when I want without regard to the fickle trends that so easily influence the shallow and gullible dilettantes of our society.
©Copyright 2017 by Kevin Fraleigh