Thursday, October 28, 2010

Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox?

Are Protestants, Roman Catholics or Eastern Orthodox more inclined to removing shoes in homes? Which culture is more 'Offalist?'

This post is just for fun. Anybody who has done proper ethnographic research will see the errors in my methodology.

Let's list shoe-removing countries by religious majority. To make this simple, I am going to confine myself to historic Christendom and leave out Christian majorities in Asia, Africa and the pacific.

Shoe-removing Countries with Catholic majorities

Latvia (but Protestants are almost even)
Czech Republic

Total: 8 countries

Shoe-removing Countries with Protestant majorities

Estonia (but Orthodox are almost even)

Total: 6 countries

Shoe-removing countries with Orthodox majorities

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (come on, you Balkans, sort it out, then I won't have to use that mouthful)

Total: 10 countries

I have heard conflicting things about Hungary, Armenia and Greece. Most of the evidence suggests that Greeks don't take their shoes off at the door.

Okay, so Eastern Orthodox win, Catholics come second, Protestants come last. Obviously this does not prove Eastern Orthodoxy is the true religion. Of course my weird demographic study does not take into account the large Roman Catholic populations in South America, where people mostly keep their shoes on in homes.

As for me, I am a Protestant. I believe the Bible to be the sole and infallible authority for Christians and that justication by faith alone is at the heart of the gospel. I reject the claims of the false Papacy and the traditions of Orthodoxy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Keep Security Checks On Shoes!

Martin Broughton, the head of British Airways has attacked requirements at UK airports to remove shoes for security.

I think checks on shoes should be maintained. It is a simple precaution that helps to keep people safe when flying. A metal detector is not going to detect plastic explosives for the simple reason that they are plastic. It is just a simple precaution; it's not like you are being asked to take off your clothes.

More significantly, there is something deeply ironic about having to remove shoes at airports that makes a wonderful moral point.

The ability to enable people to defy gravity is one of mankind's greatest achievements. The power to make a mass of metal, carrying a cargo of men and women fly higher than the birds is a true wonder. Airports are the height of our civilization, places that enable transport across the globe, a phenomena undreamed of in previous centuries. Yet in those very places, we must humble ourselves by removing shoes. At the airport we all find our common humanity. Great and small, rich and poor must all stand in stocking and bare feet. There is something wonderfully levelling about this.

In my opinion, people who make a fuss about having to take their shoes off at airport security need more of a sense of humour.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What do you think feet are supposed to look like?


Sometimes you hear people commenting that feet are a part of the human anatomy that are weird, odd or ugly.

Some people do have unsightly feet. This is because of age, illness, injury or just wearing daft high heels. However, most people do not have feet like this. Some people are of the opinion that male feet are ugly, but female feet look nice. While men do tend to have larger and sometimes hairier feet (and often don't look after their toenails), their feet are usually free from the bunions and ravages caused by wearing silly high heels that female feet often suffer.

When people say that feet are an ugly part of the body, just what do they think feet ought to look like? Would they rather have cloven hooves or a pig's trotters? Or how about wheels?

I find it especially strange when Christians make this comment. They are effectively scorning the Creator's handiwork.

Our Lord Jesus walked this earth on human feet and now His feet are as burning brass (Revelation 1:15). When the saints are resurrected to glory, they will perhaps have feet of the same quality.

I believe the angels of heaven are not purely spirits, but have bodies that are in some ways like ours. I am sure they have feet like ours.

Romans 10:15

"How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!"

If anyone thinks that feet cannot be beautiful, I suggest that they be locked up for a week in an art gallery filled with paintings by William Adolphe Bouguereau.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stay at Home Papa: Take Your Shoes Off At The Door (Jeremy Dyen)

Stay at Home Papa: Take Your Shoes Off At The Door (Jeremy Dyen)

This week, my blog was privileged by the visit of singer-songwriter, Jeremy Dyen, who also sees the merits of a shoes-off policy.

You can listen to his music at his Myspace page.

Linoleum Floors

I quite like linoleum flooring. It has a reputation for being a bit tacky or old fashioned, but it is very functional and is much more comfortable than ceramic tiling or laminate floors.

I remember my ex-girlfriend would get very cold on the ceramic tiles of my parents' kitchen when in her stocking feet, but was fine in her stocking feet on her parents' linoleum floored kitchen.

If you have a linoleum floor you really should adopt a shoes-off rule, as it can easily get scuffed or marked by shoes.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

House Tours For Guests

The Daily Mail article I linked below mentioned something interesting:

"But making people take their shoes off is a new fad, surely? Our parents didn’t do it, but then our parents lived in one or maybe two houses all their lives and entertained guests in a couple of downstairs rooms. Nowadays guests seem to expect a tour of the whole house, especially if you have just moved in."

This is so true. I entertained guests on several occasions at my parents' home when I was living there and they often requested a guided tour of the place. It was a good thing I made sure they all had their shoes off.

These days guests are likely to see more of your home than just the dining room and lounge. I think this is nice. It is fun looking at different peoples' houses and there is something intimate about showing people round your personal space. Everyone being shoeless adds to the intimacy.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Daily Mail: Is asking guests to take off their shoes rude or good housekeeping?

Daily Mail: Is asking guests to take off their shoes rude or good housekeeping?

by Mary Gold

"But making people take their shoes off is a new fad, surely? Our parents didn’t do it, but then our parents lived in one or maybe two houses all their lives and entertained guests in a couple of downstairs rooms. Nowadays guests seem to expect a tour of the whole house, especially if you have just moved in.

Kate Millns says shoe removal is a ­generational thing. ‘I never ask guests to take their shoes off, but my daughter, who is 22, has moved into a new house with pale ­carpets and she makes people take their shoes off. Maybe it is now she has got her own place and she is having to do her own cleaning!’

Is the whole shoe removal commotion a class issue — all a little bit Footballers’ Wives? Has the trend for all-white ­minimalism turned us into horrible hostesses?
Absolutely not, says Jo Bryant of Debrett’s, the etiquette bible. ‘It doesn’t matter whether you like being asked to take your shoes off, it’s a matter of respecting the host. Look for signals — if there is a pile of shoes in the hall, offer to remove yours."

Skirts with Socks

I think it is fair to say that in general skirts don't go at all well with socks. Skirts look fine with nylons or bare feet, but with socks the look is not good. A young woman in her twenties might be able to get away with wearing a pair of brightly coloured socks with a skirt, creating a slightly preppy or schoolgirlish look, but on an older woman this would look disastrous.

My ex-girlfriend pointed this out to me one time. She had removed her shoes at the door when wearing a long, pencil skirt and later complained that her stocking feet were cold on the kitchen floor. She asked if she could put her shoes back on. I suggested she put on the socks she had brought for with her (she had a change of clothes for when we went walking later). She did so, but said she felt very silly. She looked cute, but had looked far more elegant before she put the socks on. After this, she started bringing slippers when she visited me.

On the other hand I once invited over a girl with her husband for Sunday lunch. She was dressed very smartly and wearing a skirt with pantyhose. After she removed her shoes at the door I offered to lend her some socks in case her feet got cold. However, she had planned ahead and had brought a bright red pair of socks with her. She was obviously happy to make socks work with her formal wear.

I have a friend whose sole objection to the shoes-off rule was the worry that she might be asked to remove her boots when wearing athletic socks underneath with a skirt. Obviously, that would not need to happen if she was visiting an home where she expected shoes-off at the door. She could plan on wearing trousers or just nylons under her boots.

What if a lady with socks, boots and skirt visited a home and was asked to take her shoes-off unexpectedly? My own view is that it is okay to ask for shoes at the door without prior warning if needs be. If somebody makes an unannounced visit, the host is not likely to be dressed up, so she need not feel too self-conscious. If she is very bothered, she could always take the socks off quickly at the door.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Requesting is not Demanding or Forcing


Contrary to a lot of comments in the shoes-off debate, there is a difference between requesting people to remove their shoes and 'forcing' or 'demanding' them to do so.

I consulted the Meriam-Webster dictionary:

Request: to make a request to or of, to ask as a favor or privilege

Demand: to ask or call for with authority : claim as due or just, to call for urgently, peremptorily, or insistently

Force: to compel by physical, moral, or intellectual means

We do not force or demand that visitors remove their shoes, but we request them to do so.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


The teen drama, Skins featured a shoeless party in the episode 'Pandora.' Removing shoes seemed to be presented as somewhat 'uncool' and cringeworthy in the episode.

I will not post a video, as some naughty things happen in the episode. When watching it on You Tube, I had to skip large parts of it out of decency and taste.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Abyss

Yesterday evening I was watching James Cameron's 1989 film, The Abyss, about an underwater drilling crew who discover an alien race in an ocean trench. I quite like that film, even though it is a bit unbelievable and rather fixated on special effects.

When I first saw The Abyss, I noticed that most of the time, the crew remove their shoes before operating the mini-submarine craft they use to explore the depths. Are they trying to get comfortable in a very enclosed space or do they want to keep the mini-sub cockpits clean?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Fictional People (Stereotypes?) Part 4



Pekka is an hydraulic engineer from Finland, but he lives and works in Aberdeen, Scotland. He is single and rents an apartment in Aberdeen.

Pekka has lived in the UK for two years and finds it an interesting place. He finds the Scots rather noisy and a little odd, but is proud to demonstrate that Finns can drink more than any Scotsman.

Like many in his country, Pekka is very fond of heavy metal, and being patriotic loves Finnish bands like Finntroll and Turisas. Pekka also loves ice hockey, the Finnish national game and is baffled by the British preference for soccer, a game he finds rather dull.

Pekka has a no-shoes rule in his apartment.

All his life, Pekka had removed his shoes when entering homes. That was until he came to Britain. He was shocked when he discovered that Scots and English often keep their shoes on in homes. He had imagined that in other countries people took their shoes off, just like in Finland. He had seen people in American sitcoms wear shoes in homes, but had just thought this was just a convention.

When a few visitors came into his apartment with their shoes on, he was strongly tempted to try out some hand-to-hand combat techniques he had picked up during his military service, but thought better of it. Now he just asks for shoes-off in short, sweet, Finnish style.


Martha is the mother of four children and lives in Hampshire, England, with her husband, who is a doctor.

Martha and her husband are devout evangelical Christians. They left their previous Baptist church, believing it to be too worldly and now host a small fellowship of Christians in their home. They feel that the intimacy of a church meeting in a home is much deeper than the usual experience of a congregation.

Martha does not work, but has taken on the responsiblity of home schooling her four children. She believes that much of the teaching in the public school system is built on an evolutionary and humanistic philosophy. She wants her children to learn biblical ways of thinking.

Martha has a shoes-off policy in her home. She wants to protect her children from the dirt and filth outside the home. Just as she would not allow horror films or rock music into the home, she would not allow anybody to defile it with dirt from their shoes.

Martha make considerable use of their house. Four families worship their at the house church meeting and sometimes a few others attend. The tiny congregation appreciate the hospitality of Martha and her husband in opening up their home for church meetings and are happy to respect their wish for shoes-off at the door.

Martha also offers tuition in maths and science for other home-schoolers and naturally asks her pupils and their parents to remove their shoes when attending.

Martha seeks to use her home for the service of God and feels that by looking after the carpets and floors, she is making it last longer and better able to accomodate guests.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Treating Guests Like Children?

Some people feel that in being asked to remove their shoes, they are being treated like children.

They may find it obnoxious, having to follow a house rule. They may think it is fine to ask children to take off their shoes, as who knows what they might step in, but they feel patronised to be asked to take off their own shoes. They believe that adults can be trusted to wipe their feet on the doormat.

What I would say to these people is that there are many good reasons why hosts may ask them to take off their shoes. I suggest they try not to think of it as a house rule, but just as a polite request (like somebody asking you to hold their umbrella). These people probably go shoeless sometimes in their own homes, so it should not be too onerous to do this when at the homes of others.

The fact is that wiping your feet will not remove all the dreadful stuff that your shoes pick up. You may try to be careful what you step in, but a lot of the worst things, like lead or weed killer is unseen.

Other people may feel that removing their shoes makes them feel childish. They do not feel terribly grown up skipping around a house in their bare feet or padding in their socks. What I would say to those people is that they should bear in mind that in many cultures, going shoeless indoors is the norm. In Japan or Sweden, nobody thinks it childish to be in socks or bare feet. There are plenty of situations in the UK where adults will be without shoes; such as on the beach or in a Yoga class. I suggest that when they visit shoeless homes, they ought to bring some slippers to wear.