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Sneaker Tradition: an Merchandise-Based mostly Non secular Motion?

By Drew Whinery

As a school pupil, I have a tendency to remain up with tendencies. One which has been widespread for years is called “Sneaker Tradition.” The concept behind Sneaker Tradition is that sure footwear, or sneakers, are launched in a restricted provide and many individuals search them to up their trend recreation or add to their assortment. This provide and demand market has allowed the rise of Sneaker Tradition, a group of shoe lovers, and explains why thousands and thousands of individuals collect annually at conventions, create on-line boards to debate releases of the subsequent sneaker, and even sit on their laptop or smartphone ready for the clock to strike on the hour to allow them to “cop” (Sneaker Tradition for “purchase”) their subsequent sneaker. As a part of a undertaking for REL 241 “American Religious History,” I made a decision to dig deeper into the sneaker group and see how Sneaker Tradition will be studied as an item-based spiritual motion and the way doing so challenges the methods we perceive American Non secular Historical past and, extra broadly, definitions of faith.

In my analysis into this subject, I watched a documentary hosted by American actor and musician Jeff Goldblum titled “The World According to Jeff Goldblum,” the place he spends time making an attempt to grasp completely different fads in American society. The first episode centered on Sneaker Tradition. One thing I seen as I watched was the “spiritual” language used to explain the motion and its contributors. The motion was known as an “worldwide congregation” that “worships on the altar of Mr. Sneaker” by both Mr. Goldblum or the sneaker professional during which he was shadowing at a Sneaker Con Conference, Mr. Jaysse Lopez. Mr. Goldblum even went so far as to notice sneakers have “change into this object of worship.”

If individuals are speaking about Sneaker Tradition with spiritual language, how else can the pattern be studied as a non secular motion? If we glance to how dominant religions operate, we will see that there are similarities in how Sneaker Tradition features. In Christianity a practitioner has steps that they have to take and observe to be a “profitable or true Christian”. A few of these steps embrace spending time in prayer, studying the Bible day by day, and placing others earlier than your self. In Sneaker Tradition, a Sneaker Head – which is one other time period synonymous to that of a practitioner – has steps during which they take to be thought-about a “profitable/true sneaker head”. A few of these embrace solely having genuine sneakers and never having any UAs (Unauthorized-Genuine sneakers, or fakes), sporting and accumulating solely really “hyped” sneakers, and staying updated on the newest Sneaker Tradition information akin to drops and collaborations.

Past noticing similarities between Sneaker Tradition and communities we generally name “spiritual,” occupied with Sneaker Tradition as a non secular motion challenges frequent definitions of faith in addition to what usually will get included in “American spiritual historical past.” Though I’m not right here to argue whether or not Sneaker Tradition is definitely spiritual or not, this instance exhibits that what we embrace in American Non secular Historical past is determined based mostly on our personal conceptions and biases. After we take our spiritual research expertise and apply them to issues not historically thought-about spiritual, we will see new methods of learning and understanding the social world. Earlier than partaking Sneaker Tradition with my spiritual research expertise, I’d have by no means thought-about the motion to be spiritual. I used to be shocked by the brand new methods I used to be in a position to consider “faith” once I utilized the talents from class to this cultural motion I used to be fairly accustomed to. I hope that by studying this you’re additionally inspired to look again on issues that aren’t usually thought-about spiritual and discover new methods to consider them through the use of your spiritual research expertise.


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