A program from–where else–Tennessee:

Temple Israel and Unity of the Palm Beaches are collaborating on a project that is soulful — and sole-ful.

Rabbi Cookie Lea Olshein of the temple and the Rev. Rhonda K. Liles, senior minister at Unity of the Palm Beaches, will go barefoot Oct. 11, to raise awareness for Soles4Souls, a Nashville-based charity that collects new and recycled footwear and matches them with people in need.

The social-action initiative encourages people to donate shoes of all brands and sizes. Shoes in disrepair can be sent to Third World countries where people learn the shoe repair trade and micro-enterprise efforts to eradicate poverty.

The idea of two up-scale religious organisations having their ministers go barefoot is, to me, hilarious.  Are they secretly protesting the fact that their well-heeled (literally as well as figuratively) congregations don’t pay them enough?  I’ve always thought that one reason Episcopal and other Main Line clergy went to big for social justice issues in the 1960’s was a subliminal protest against their own ministerial poverty vs. the wealth of their congregations.

But since we’re looking for a hidden agenda, how about the fact that Soles4Souls is Nashville, TN based?  Tennessee has always been the butt of jokes from places like Palm Beach for its “primitive” living conditions and the idea that the residents don’t wear shoes.  (So who do Tennesseans look down on?  Arkansas and Kentucky, who else)!  Is this a clever ruse to get even at last?

Hopefully the explicitly intended beneficiaries of this program will actually get something out of it.  But, more than ever, people who attend houses of worship such as these need to do more than feel guilty about their state or pass the plate.  They need to get out of their bubbles and see how the other half lives.  Like “those people” in the Pentecostal churches…