Thursday, December 25, 2008

Luke Skywalker has a Shoes-Off Rule!

I could not resist writing this post!

Not the white-clad farm boy that you see in Star Wars: A New Hope, but the fifty-year old married Jedi master that he turns into over the course of over two dozen novels that continue the adventures of the Star Wars characters.

Since I was 13, I have enjoyed reading these novels that continue the story after Return of the Jedi. This week, I decided to return to them and picked up The Joiner King, the first part of the Dark Nest trilogy.

I was thrilled to discover that Luke and his wife Mara Jade have a no-shoes rule in their home, on the planet Ossus (where removing shoes is apparently the custom). In this novel, Mara is reminded by their ten-year old son to remove her shoes.

It was a great novel, one of the best Star Wars novels I have read. My only complaint is an incident in the story where Luke Skywalker authorises the use of torture. This smacks too much of the way the USA has sailed close to the dark side. I was glad the John McCain, Republican candidate in the recent US election took a strong stand against torture.

I finally got my own place!

Sorry not to have posted anything, but I am without the internet in my new apartment.

I moved into my apartment in Stevenage last Saturday. It is great.

I was given the keys by a property inspector. He spent some time impressing upon me the need to keep the apartment clean. He noticed that I had removed my shoes on entering. While he had kept his own shoes on, he told me that I ought to make this the 'order of the day.' I suspect with all the pressure from landlords and their agents (the old deposit) to look after rented property, a lot of tenants like myself probably feel the need to impose a no-shoes rule.

I had promised myself that when I got my own place, I would buy this door mat that says 'Please Take Off Your Shoes.' It was expensive, but I did. Mine is in brick red, with black letters. You can buy your own shoes-off doormat from Mats4u (UK)

I have not had any visitors yet, but I am sure I will in good time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Last Bible Study at the Pastor's House

I am leaving Hastings on Saturday, so it was my last Bible study at the pastor's house. As it was my last Bible study there, I was pleased to notice that everybody removed their shoes.

A couple of people brought slippers. A couple of people, as well as myself were barefoot (the hardy people!).

A lady who was there for the first time asked the pastor's young assistant whether she should remove her shoes. He replied:

Shoes off is good.

A very American way of putting it. It has been cool attending an American denomination.

Some Serious Theology: Are you a Tramplian or an Offalist?


If you are an Evangelical Christian, you may be sick of the Calvinist/ Arminian debate, so let me introduce you to some new theological terms; Tramplian and Offalist.

Tramplians like to trample the carpets or flooring of their homes with their shoes on. They find it rather objectionable to be asked to remove their shoes when visiting somebody else's home.

The central principle in Tramplian theology is the freedom of the will. They believe that they should be the ones to decide whether they take their shoes off at a dinner party. Their attitude is "I decided what outfit to wear. I decided what shoes to wear. I should be able to keep them on if I like". They do not believe that a hostess should impose shoelessness on them.

Tramplians have a strong belief in the goodness of hosts. They consider that a hostess should be above all concerned for her guests wishes and convenience above keeping her home clean. They believe that if a hostess likes them enougth to invite them into her home, she will accept them with their shoes on.

Tramplians believe in the power of their own ability to keep their shoes clean. They consider themselves to be grown-up and to be careful about what they tread on. They do acknowledge that their shoes can be tainted by the corruption of dirty streets, however they hold that this can easily be dealt with by wiping their feet on their hostess' doormat. Their shoes can be restored to cleanliness by the exercise of their will.

Offalists in contrast, always remove their shoes at the door. Offalists believe in the Total Depravity of the soles of their shoes. The corruption of city streets has completely ruined the condition of their shoes, they argue, and the only hope is a change of nature for their feet, namely into slippers or clean socks. The Offalist pays heed to warnings about the health risks of pesticide, lead paint and animal excrement.

The Offalist upholds the sovereignty of the host. The hostess has been very generous in inviting her guests, however, she is sovereign over her own home and has the authority to set the rules. She will not allow anything corrupt to defile her home. Those who would enter her home must not come in their own shoes, but must meet her condition of a change into slippers or stocking feet.

The Offalist holds that the root problem of the Tramplian's theology is human pride. The Tramplian is proud of her ability to make decisions about her outfit. She is proud of her Manolos, her Prada heels or her Jimmy Choo boots. She is too proud to combine her outfit with stocking feet. She resents the idea that her hostess would not accept her in her own shoes.

The Offalist argues that if the Tramplian would only forsake her pride, she would actually find that she was far more comfortable in slippers, socks or bare feet. Her determination to remain in her stilettos will in the end hurt her feet and drag her to destruction. She may well remain outside the dinner party in the outer darkness.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Have you ever read the Nemi cartoons?

Nemi is a cartoon strip character created by the Norwegian, Lise Myhre. Nemi is a female goth who listens to Black metal and prefers fantasy stories to the real world. Her misfit status is illustrated by the fact that she is black and white in a colourful cartoon strip.

Nemi used to be printed in Terroizer, my favorite magazine. These days she is printed in the Metro newspaper. You can read them online here.

Being a fan of Black metal, I can rather identify with Nemi and her feeling of alienation from real life.

Nemi and her friends are usually in their socks when indoors. I suppose that comes with being drawn by a Norweygian artist.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008



Some people in Britain and the USA have an interesting perspective on this subject. They feel happy taking off their shoes at the home of an Asian person whose culture demands removal of shoes, but consider it deeply rude for a British or American person to insist on visitors to her home removing their shoes.

There are two problems with this attitude. Firstly, there is a touch of cultural arrogance about it. It implies that the Asian custom of removing shoes is purely of spiritual or cultural significance with no practical value. Maybe Asian people are primarily concerned about keeping their homes clean! Behind the pretended respect for a foreign culture, there is the unspoken assumption that Western practice is superior.

Secondly, this attitude seems to take a rather static view of culture, seeing it as a set of chains that bind people to particular rules of behaviour. In fact, culture is dynamic and fluid, it changes over time.

It seems to me to be quite obvious that if a person of Asian descent can be considered British while keeping her home shoe-free, it is perfectly acceptable for a White British person to keep her home shoe-free.

It may be the norm in Britain and most of the USA for shoes to stay on in homes now, but this may change. In fact, I believe it probably will. Many White Americans and even British people are adopting the custom of shoes-off in homes.

We are living in a global village with increased immigration, travel and communication between different cultures. There is tremendous potential for different cultural practices to migrate across geographical boundaries.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Medical Conditions


If you read internet discussions about the subject of the shoes-off rule, you will find countless people who claim to have a medical condition that means they must wear shoes all the time. If these discussions were representative of the population; nearly half the people in the USA have such a medical condition. I do not believe a word of it.

Yes, there are some people who do have a genuine medical reason for not removing their shoes. We must make exceptions for them.

Some people say having a shoes-off policy causes embarassment for such people because they must reveal their condition. However, this is quite unnecessary. A person with a medical condition can simply say:

I am sorry, I can't take my shoes off. Doctor's orders.

She does not need to reveal the nature of her condition. She does not need to give any embarassing details. There is really no problem here.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Another response to Phillip Howard

Somebody from Ascot wrote a reponse to Phillip Howard's comments on removing shoes in the Times:

“I and my visitors take our shoes off when entering a house not because of the carpets, but because of the dogs on the pavements.”

Times: Modern Manners December 6

Friday, December 05, 2008

Sex and the City- A Woman's Right to Shoes

The infamous Sex and the City episode. Not a programe I watch, but at least this episode gives a bit of publicity to my cause.

The portrayal of the shoeless hostess in this story is somewhat negative, hence anti-shoes-off people often mention it in debates.

One thing which tends to get forgotten is that the people attending the shoeless party appear to be enjoying themselves.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

More workmen

We had a couple more engineers working on the televisions in our house yesterday.

It was wonderful to see them remove their shoes every time they came into the house, even carrying their shoes upstairs to go into the loft and removing them when they came down the ladder.

I have read people complaining that workmen never take their shoes off, but a lot of the workmen seem to remove their shoes when entering homes round here.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Prayer Meeting Yesterday

It was the prayer meeting at the pastor's house yesterday.

It was quite a cold night (it did not stop me wearing my flip flops though!) and the pastor said:

"If anybody has cold feet, you can put your shoes on. You don't have to take your shoes off tonight."

A polite gesture. Personally, I would assume that if people know they need to take their shoes off, they will bring slippers if they are worried about getting their feet cold. However, if somebody in socks asked to put their shoes back on when it was cold, I would not make a fuss. If they were not wearing socks, I would offer to lend them some first though.