While I was in seminary getting an MA degree in Christian theology (because I was burning out as an adjunct English professor), I worked with Rev. Dr. Patrick Cheng, a former lawyer-turned-theologian. I was lucky enough to proofread the manuscript for his first book, Radical Love: Introduction to Queer Theology. Following queer theorists like Michel Foucault, he uses “queer” beyond its umbrella category including all the members of the LGBTQIA etc. community. He argues that “Christian theology itself is a fundamentally queer enterprise because it also challenges and deconstructs–through radical love–all kinds of binary categories that on the surface seem fixed and unchangeable (such as life vs. death, or divine vs. human), but that ultimately are fluid and malleable” (Cheng 10).
I am thinking about this now because tomorrow is Palm Sunday, the lead into Holy Week when Christians remember the teachings of Jesus that we should love and serve one another, the death of Jesus at the hands of the religious and political elite, ending on Easter Sunday when we remember his resurrection, turning the most fixed and unchangeable human experience on its head.
I have celebrated these mysteries in communities with a considerable LGBT* presence before, though mostly in the Episcopal Church, but I have never thought of myself as engaging in subversion, except for the years when I sang as a female tenor in the Easter choir, and even then I wore a skirt for the Easter morning service (one of the rare non-wedding events I have worn a skirt to in the last twenty years or so). It will be interesting to view the services from that angle this year.
Cheng, Patrick S. Radical Love: Introduction to Queer Theology. Seabury Books, 2011.
There is an episode on the TV series Bones, in which the forensic anthropologist, Dr. Brennan identifies a decomposed body by the surgery the woman had on her feet to shorten her toes to fit some fancy-shmancy ridiculously high-heeled shoes for her wedding. The pathologist, Dr. Saroyan, not known for her taste in sensible shoes herself, says, “Women do love their shoes!” When I saw this episode, I said, “No, we don’t! That’s stereotypical! Harrumph!”
I also find it ridiculous that a show with high-powered women who spend a lot of time on their feet generally show them wearing at least three-inch heels. Somehow I doubt it. Sure they might keep a set in the bottom drawer for meetings, but given that these main characters are medical professionals, they would know exactly how each inch of heel puts that much more pressure on the ball of the foot, stretches the Achilles tendon and does other nasty stuff to knees, legs and back. Sure, up to a point they can make a woman’s calves look good and the shift to the legs also helps foreground her breasts (stand on your tiptoes and see what shifts). But standing or, for example, walking in them? Nope!
I am thinking of this now because I just bought a few pairs of shoes and rediscovered others that were at the back of my closet.
The old. Ariat paddock boots. Bass oxfords. Brogues.
The new. Mark Fisher monk straps and brogues. And Shiny Party Shoes!!!
The rejected. Toms oxfords. Sole Society boots.
They both look utterly terrific, but when I tried the Oxfords on, they were unbelievably uncomfortable: rigid and unforgiving. The boots were just too narrow for my feet. Sending them back.
Harrumph. By sweet Jesus in his dusty Birkenstocks, I did not come to this side of the rainbow bridge to wear uncomfortable shoes!