HomeSynergeiavol. 3 no. 1 (2009)

Faith and Footwear: Waging a Religious-Cultural War

Henry P. Bocala

Discipline: Religion, Theology, Faith



At the start of a Doctrine class, I wrote the following title on the board in broad strokes: “Faith and Footwear.” “Nice teaser,” one student quipped, “but what’s the connection?” “Both are custom-made,” I said. “That’s what the two things have in common.” My reply stirred the curiosity of my audience and a lively discussion ensued.


I went on to develop my queer analogy. Fashion designs and trendy outfits – from head to foot – always try to make us look and feel good. Take the case of sneakers. The latest fashions allow you to get a pair that is tailored to your needs or caprices. All you have to do is place your order over the counter and give the specifications, and while you wait or shop around, your footwear is cut and shaped exactly the way you want – with the stuff, color, and contour of your choice to give you utmost satisfaction and comfort. Plus, your name is stamped on it like a product brand.


Sadly, a similar trend can be observed in religious matters. Many people fashion the Christian faith to suit their own tastes and personal preferences. Faith is no longer lived the way it used to be – attached to an institution, sanctioned by the authorities, and built on Tradition. No. Religion has ceased to be an “RTW” (something you just take and put on without much ado). What we find more and more are private spiritualities, watered-down beliefs, and rip-offs loosely formed by those who pick and piece together elements they find agreeable in the Catholic Church. Their faith is made to order. They choose what to believe and what not to believe. Teachings that rock their easy lifestyle are simply junked. It is my-own-sort-of-thing, my brand of religion. It is hip and chic.