Doing the Lord’s work


There’s this nifty instagram site, PreachersNSneakers, with a simple premise done well. He looks at photographs of evangelical preachers and then looks up the price of their shoes. Like this:

That’s Pastor John Gray in a really ugly pair of absurdly expensive $5000 tennis shoes. It’s an extreme example, but browsing through the page it’s clear that successful Christians think nothing of dropping $500, $600, $1000 on a pair of shoes that look weird and ostentatious, and also look out of place with the rest of their clothes. There’s just something strange going on here.

Also, I don’t understand the economics of the shoes themselves. These are cheap items built overseas by virtual slave labor, and then given an immense markup in the US. What virtue is being signaled by the existence of these ludicrous status symbols, and what are these preachers saying about themselves?

Comments

  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    What virtue is being signaled by the existence of these ludicrous status symbols…

    I think you just answered your own question. It’s not about virtue. It’s about status.

  2. says

    They are saying that they have enough money to buy expensive sneakers because God loves them. Financial success is a measure of God’s love.

    The sneakers establish them at the top of this hierarchy.

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    …and what are these preachers saying about themselves?

    That the prosperity gospel has been VERY good to them.

  4. says

    Followup to comment 2.

    And, by deduction, God does not love you as much.

    Or, you are disobeying God and therefore God is withholding sneakers from you.

  5. says

    Or, you are disobeying God and therefore God is withholding sneakers from you.

    I cannot imagine how much money I would need to have to even contemplate 5k for a pair of very ugly sneakers. Maybe god simply granted me good taste?

  6. kevskos says

    And I thought I was being extravagant spending over $100 for my Birkenstock sandals.

  7. thirdmill301 says

    While this is Exhibit No. 3,857 on the veniality of organized religion, I think the far more interesting question is why would anyone pay 5k for those ugly shoes. And the answer is: Because they’re $5,000. If they were $10, nobody would want them, but just tell someone they’re worth 5k and anyone with 5k to spend on shoes suddenly can’t live without them. It’s the same issue we were discussing earlier with schools, in which PZ pointed out that a Harvard education isn’t significantly better than a state university education, but because it has a higher price tag, anyone who can afford it wants to go there.

    In the meantime, I live for the day when one of these prosperity gospel preachers preaches from Matthew 19:24: “It shall be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.”

  8. lumipuna says

    I guess if you make shoes a status symbol of conspicuous consumption, you do want them to look really conspicuous. Especially on stage, where you aren’t interacting with people up close.

    (And maybe it’s just a cultural quirk that sneaker shoes are the one type of dress accessory you can use in “preacher” style to look flamboyantly rich.)

  9. says

    I only recently found out about sneaker-heads and the whole culture around them, where people will camp out to buy a new release and re-sell for profit. It’s also mostly men.

    But remember, the stereotype is that it’s women who spend too much money on something as frivolous as shoes.

  10. blf says

    This is not the Sam Vimes “Boots” Theory of Economic Injustice.

    More like the Total Scam “Sneakers” Theory of Moral Absence.

  11. jack16 says

    “Camel through the eye of a needle” — I’ve read that this a translation error. The word for rope resembles the word for camel.

    jack16

  12. leerudolph says

    What profiteth it a man that he gain the world but lose his sole? Gotta have both!!!

  13. tbtabby says

    NO virtue is being signaled, because the preacher isn’t an SJW beta cuck and knows that virtue-signalling is the worst thing you can do!

  14. Aoife_b says

    @jack16
    It very likely isn’t. The Babylonian Talmud has a similar saying in it, “like an elephant through the eye of a needle”, meaning something impossible. As elephants aren’t a common large creature in the Levant but camels are, it’s easy to see why the animal was changed.

  15. says

    I’ve heard at least a couple other explain-aways for that. It’s a mountain pass. It’s a rock formation. It’s one of the gates of the city of Jerusalem. So it must mean that it’s easier to take a rope through a mountain pass and into Jerusalem. And it is!

    You know: ANYTHING is better than the surface meaning. Our Jesus would never say a harsh thing like that about those wonderful, benevolent Pharisees!

  16. unclefrogy says

    I guess I must be a failure and not favored by god either as I have neither money nor status
    I just never have desired to be more than anyone else enough, which is a good thing as I am not.
    uncle frogy

  17. aziraphale says

    Obviously those sneakers have accelerometers and gas jets to keep you upright during the Rapture. It would be so undignified to arrive in the Lord’s presence upside down.

  18. A momentary lapse... says

    I see it’s time for another listen to Paul Kelly’s “Stealing in the Name of the Lord”…

  19. willj says

    Having been involved in these types of family arguments before: when you bring up the camel-through-the-eye-of-a-needle bit, they’ll just say “with God all things are possible.” Then you have to counter with “You cannot serve God and mammon.” Five thousand dollar sneakers are probably mammon, as are thousand dollar suits, mansions, Gulf Stream jets, billionaire televangelists (Ken Copeland, for example), etc. Evangelicals would do well read the Sermon on the Mount more often. They’d still be assholes, but perhaps not as bad.

  20. magistramarla says

    The oldest grandson has an obsession with Van’s sneakers. I’m old, so I don’t understand! He had a closet stuffed with them when he lived at our house. His mother is a bit exasperated that he has more shoes than she has.

  21. says

    I’ve heard at least a couple other explain-aways for that. It’s a mountain pass. It’s a rock formation. It’s one of the gates of the city of Jerusalem. So it must mean that it’s easier to take a rope through a mountain pass and into Jerusalem.

    It’s almost like you just can’t believe what that Bible thingy is saying.

  22. Hairhead, Still Learning at 59 says

    My father was a minister who served prostitutes, drug addicts, and alcoholics on Skid Row. He didn’t care much for church (buildings) or church (services). I read this article and halfway through . .

    (gets up and goes to the next room. Punches a pillow 25 times)

    Okay, I’m back. I pick up reading again. Another few sentences . . .

    (get up, go to window overlooking back yard, clench fists, wave arms, scream)

    Okay, I’m back. Finish the article.

    Sit there, seething, large vein throbbing dangerously in forehead . . .

    Seriously, I LOATHE these fuckers!

  23. laurence1986 says

    “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. “

  24. tbp1 says

    There is a thing called a “Veblen good,” named after Thorsten Veblen, the economist who coined the term “conspicuous consumption.” It’s a good for which demand actually goes up as the price increases. With most goods, of course, demand decreases at least somewhat as prices go up. It is, of course, a way of signaling wealth and status. Insanely overpriced sneakers would certainly be in the family. As someone point out in this thread, no one would buy these if they were $10. They are desirable precisely BECAUSE they are obscenely expensive. I weep for our species.

  25. davidc1 says

    If you look at the camel with the needle held very ,very ,close up to your eye ,you can see that the camel
    will just about scrape through .
    Mind you it will have to be a few miles away.

Leave a Reply