Union University
Union University Dept of Language


If you're not wearing Dockers . . .

Director of the Institute for Intellectual Discipleship

January 12, 2010 - At the close of Luke’s account of the encounter between Jesus and the Gerasene demoniac – the man whose demons were “Legion” – we find this succinct description of the man’s restoration. “. . . and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind . . .” (Luke 8:35). The clothing is, of course, significant in light of the man’s condition prior to Jesus’ exorcism. We are told that “for a long time he had worn no clothes” (Luke 8:27). Yet Luke underscores the connection between his immodesty and his madness by conjoining orthodoxy (right-thinking) with “ortho-himatian” (right-clothing).

Perhaps there is a lesson in this for the participants of the 2010 9th annual No Pants Subway Ride organized by Improv Everywhere. The latter’s website describes the group as committed to causing “scenes of chaos and joy in public places.” No doubt we are to think of this as a rather sophisticated form of subversive, participatory art.

However, one almost cannot help but think that such actions reflect what G.K. Chesterton described in Orthodoxy when he characterized the modern rebel thus. “The modern revolutionist, being an infinite sceptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore, the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.”

Like the Gerasene demoniac, the modern rebel needs to be restored to his right mind. And while this may not require exorcism, it most certainly begins after the same fashion as that Hans Christian Anderson classic involving a rather scantily clad, though undoubtedly highly sophisticated emperor. Someone needs to tell the undressed subway riders, “Hey! You’re not wearing any pants.” And perhaps it wouldn’t hurt for them to have a seat at the feet of Christ.