Tyranny of the Irrelevant

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Photo by Gratisography

I recall, with a great sense of remorse, a time in church with my teenage daughter, when she arrived to service wearing “flip-flops”.

That’s right – “flip-flops“!

What was she thinking?

Didn’t she know by now, that flip-flops were not appropriate attire in the “House of God”?

Didn’t she know how that might make me look as her father, and one who held position in the church?


I let her know, in no uncertain terms, how disappointed I was in her selection of attire – damaging her spirit in the process, and inflicting upon her the tyranny of the irrelevant.

The irrelevant can act as a distraction to the true meaning of something.  Like a magnet oriented to the same pole, the irrelevant can repel the hearts and minds of those subjected to its tyranny.

We try to legislate what it means to be a “Christian” by narratives that control our lives, such as what to wear, how to talk,  what to eat, what to drink, what political party or dogma to align with – most cultural and all impertinent to the meaning of Christianity itself.  Those narratives are all about marketing, not disciplining, but yet they continue to be conflated with Christianity, or worse yet, the defense of something in the name of Christianity.

Trying to legislate, or define Christianity with those kinds of narratives, is like trying to hold water in your cupped hands.

If the narratives that define our lives would come from how Jesus walked, talked and taught, the tyranny of the irrelevant would be defeated. and we could go on to be real disciples of Christ, and Christ only – Christianity.

Spirits wouldn’t be damaged.

Our identities – social, political and otherwise,  would be subordinated to our faith, instead of our faith being subordinated to them.

Old divisions could be reconciled.

We could break past the dissonance enveloping the church.

And flip-flops wouldn’t be an issue.

According to Joan Taylor, Professor of Christian Origins and Second Temple Judaism, King’s College London, Jesus appeared similar to other Judean men in basic clothing, but accounts “from the perspective of respectable people” remember him as looking rather scruffy in appearance.

He was not at all what they were expecting to see in a Messiah, or we, in church some Sunday morning.

And lest we forget…

Jesus wore sandals.