God in Mary Janes

Mary Jane Tap Shoe“Maybe some women leap into the arms of the Goddess because all of us desperately want the Divine to walk in our Mary Janes.”

–Lilian Calles Barger in Chasing Sophia

When I first read these words in the beginning of Lilian Calles Barger’s terrific book, I have to admit, I giggled a bit. God in Mary Janes, I thought. As if! Everybody knows God wears Keens. Crocs maybe. Tevas, for sure. But Mary Janes? No way.

Over the past few days I’ve continued to imagine what shoes God would wear. And wondering why it was so hard to picture God in Mary Janes—which could arguably be the “King” of women’s shoes. And, of course, that’s the answer: They’re women’s shoes. It seems ridiculous to imagine him in girly, shiny, strappy shoes because we’re just not accustomed to imagining that side of ourselves reflected in God (or in his patent leather shoes as it were!). 

 This struck me again as I reread the article I posted today at Gifted For Leadership by Sarah Sumner. She told the story of asking a group of pastors which women in the Bible they most identified with. They all laughed—naturally. Ridiculous for a man to imagining identifying with a woman, right?

And yet women are instructed and expected to identify with men of the Bible—and to find our identity in the Son of Man—all the time. That’s why God in Mary Janes seems so silly.

So my inner Christian feminist has been stewing. But then a new image popped into my mind: God in wing-tips. Then, God in football cleats. Both seemed just as silly as Mary Janes. Well, maybe not as silly, but close. To be fair, maybe I see God in Keens or Crocs because of their androgynous-ness (is that a word?), which is okay. I don’t think God is a man or a woman as we understand those to be.  But if we believe we are image-bearers (and this can be difficult for women to really believe), then we need to be able to imagine those masculine and feminine sides of God fully and clearly. Right down to the shoes.

One Response to “God in Mary Janes”

  1. John
    September 18, 2007 at 10:09 am #

    VERY interesting post! I have never thought about how women always have to identify with men in the Bible. Seems like we need more women in leadership roles in the Church. This would be helpful for men to see women as strong Christian role models and good for women to see the same. Someone should write a book about this!

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