While I do not condone the Muslim reporter throwing shoes at a world leader I do applaud the Muslim use of symbolism in this instance. I say this as a Christian as well.
Politics and ideologies aside, using a shoe to represent the lowest and dirtiest qualities of an individual offers timely support for the ideas I have been sharing on this blog.
If you are a regular reader of my posts you know that I have been promoting the theological ideas of Emanuel Swedenborg, who claimed that the Holy Bible is a multi-dimensional document and contains higher levels of meaning. His basic idea was that Scripture was written in a symbolic language called correspondences.
Scripture uses the same symbolism for “shoes” as do Muslims. Correspondences are based on the idea that physical objects represent inner qualities of a person’s spirit. Since shoes are worn on the feet, which are the lowest parts of the human body, they are perfect symbols for representing the lowest qualities of human nature. It is from our shoes that we track dirt into the house. Similarly, it is through our lowest nature that we make a mess out of our inner lives.
But why should such wonderful symbolic expression stop there? The main point I have been making is that every word in Sacred Scripture makes use of this same dynamic between physical things and spiritual qualities.
But let me stick with the topic of shoes. Swedenborg pointed out that everywhere the word “shoes” appears in the Bible, its higher, psycho-spiritual meaning is to be sought out and understood. He offers the following examples where shoes have a negative connotation in Scripture:
That from a thread even to the thong of a shoe, I will not take aught that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have enriched Abram. (Genesis 14:23)
Put off thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holiness. (Josh. 5:15)
If the man is not willing to fulfill the duties of a husband’s brother, then his brothers wife shall come unto him in the eyes of the elders, and draw his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face; and she shall answer and say, So shall it be done to the man that doth not build up his brother’s house. And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe taken off. (Deut. 25:5-10)
It is obvious that one’s shoes do not condemn a person, but what they represent—the lowest and dirtiest things of a person’s nature—can indeed condemn someone. Muslims and Christians alike can agree on such symbolic expression, and thus come to some agreement on sacred topics.
A Muslim is one who surrenders to God. A Christian, who applies the commandments to his or her life, also surrenders to God. Both Muslims and Christians embrace the ancient Bible as a sacred document. Swedenborg claimed that distilling the literal words of Scripture to extract their elevated meanings revealed new details as to how to surrender to God.
I believe that a study of these higher meanings through the knowledge of correspondences could bring the world’s religions closer together.
We ALL need to duck from flying shoes!