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VFF and Jesus

My left foot in Vibram Five Fingers KSOs, University of Notre Dame.

Running in Vibram Five Fingers recently on the University of Notre Dame campus, I stopped a moment in front of the Hesburgh Library and the giant, iconic mosaic of Touchdown Jesus, as he’s known there, facing south looking right down the length of the football field.

And yes, I actually had to ask myself, “What Would Jesus Wear?” Well, honestly, it was rhetorical. I knew that Jesus had to have either been a barefootist or a minimalist, because God knows (pun intended) there were no Nikes back then.

Actually, as it turns out, I’m completely wrong in the last statement. There was a Nike around a couple millenia ago, the Greek Winged Goddess of Victory. She was often depicted barefoot, as a matter of fact. Go figure. Yes, yes, it’s true – divine beings of all sorts are quite often barefoot, from the Greek and Roman pantheons to the deities of the Indian subcontinent, from the ancient lands of the Pharaohs and jackal-headed badasses to the Judeo-Christian Holy Land, beings of divine origin and birth had free feet, either completely bare or minimally clad in flat, Huarache-like sandals.

But back to JC. His image on Notre Dame’s library, I was disappointed to discover, doesn’t show his feet, so after my run, I perused the Google image gallery of Jesus’ feet. Among other surfaces, He is also shown walking on water barefoot, a feat that would only otherwise been possible had he on a pair of Air Jordans with the over-sized air pocket in the soles and the extra foam rubber cushioning for buoyancy.

Barefoot Jesus

Barefoot Jesus Kickin' It Across the Sea Au Naturale.

One thing that is known and agreed upon by historians and theologians alike about the Savior of All Mankind is that he did a helluva lot of walking. He left behind a log book in which he daily recorded the number of leagues he walked as well as his average pace and heart rate, and he did this with minimal or no foot protection. Through deserts, on water, over mountains. Now as a carpenter by trade, it’s possible he had some sort of protection on his feet to avoid injury from stray nails laying around the workshop.

Ironic, isn’t it?

So What Would Jesus Wear if He were here today? Oh, totally, Air Jordans! They were quite popular in Galilee in His time, named after the popular river of the region. No really, if not barefoot or in Huaraches, it’s possible He might have had a pair of Birkenstocks, but even those have annoying arch supports. There’s nothing worse than trudging through miles of desert with a bad case of plantar fasciitis caused by annoying arch supports. The absence of any mention of knee, heel, or IT band problems affecting Christ or any of his disciples in the four accepted Gospels, it is clear He must have been barefoot, or to protect the feet from the hot desert surface, flat tire rubber tied around the foot and ankle with leather cord, Tarahumara-style, and hey, it’s the Gospels, who’s gonna refute that?

Dhanwantari by Menno Dijkhuis

Barefoot Dhanwantari

As I mentioned, JC wasn’t the only Divine Being in history to enjoy the pleasures of being barefoot. There was Nike, of course, and on the Indian subcontinent, the barefoot gods and goddesses are too numerous to name here, but just a few include Ganesha, Shiva, Saraswati, and Dhanwantari. (Barefoot Dhanwantari, the Celestial Physician, gives much creditibilty to the health benefits of baring your feet.)

The gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt were depicted barefoot, as were most statues of Greek and Roman deities. There are several ideas explaining why the Divine are without footwear, one of which is to symbolize their purity and sacredness. Bare feet are also symbolic of power, as the gods don’t require shoes or sandals as nothing can harm their feet, and stories often mention them vanquishing demons or monsters by stomping on them with their feet:  Nataraj – the dancing Shiva – banishes Ignorance with his ginormous size 18 bare foot.

Barefoot Osiris

Osiris, Ancient Egyptian Barefoot Enthusiast

And there you have it. We can all connect with our individual divinity by walking the earth barefoot. It connects us to the rest of the world, it humbles us. As a gesture of respect, when entering sacred spaces, including our homes, we ought to go barefoot.

You can’t feel the ground beneath your feet with thick rubber souls.

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