I could never have prophisied that the thing rattling around at the back of the internet on this most holiest of weeks would be the mashup of tennis shoes and Satan. After talking about it yesterday, a kind reader sent along this Time’s article in which Nike distances itself from Lil Nas X and the drop of human blood thing:
Mr. Greenberg noted that Nike was not involved in the process “in any capacity.” In a statement on Sunday, Nike said: “We do not have a relationship with Little Nas X or MSCHF. Nike did not design or release these shoes, and we do not endorse them.” And on Monday, Nike sued MSCHF in U.S. District Court over the shoes, alleging that MSCHF’s “unauthorized Satan Shoes are likely to cause confusion and dilution and create an erroneous association between MSCHF’s products and Nike.” “Decisions about what products to put the ‘swoosh’ on belong to Nike, not to third parties like MSCHF,” Nike said in its lawsuit, referring to its “swoosh” logo. “Nike requests that the court immediately and permanently stop MSCHF from fulfilling all orders for its unauthorized Satan Shoes.”
Of course, Lil Nas X and his spokesperson won’t be told anything by anyone:
“Part of the messaging is the breaking down of barriers, of societal norms,” she said. “That suggests a new way of doing things, which is consistent with the ideas of breaking down societal norms that discriminate against people.” On Twitter on Thursday, Lil Nas X wrote to “14-year-old Montero” that the song “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” was “about a guy I met last summer.” “I know we promised to never come out publicly,” he wrote. “I know we promised to die with this secret, but this will open doors for many other queer people to simply exist.”
What’s a promise, after all, against the delights of opening doors for other people to simply exist. Predictably, Relevant Magazine accused Christians of predictably being upset about the whole Satan thing.
He’s launching a pair of black and scarlet shoes along with the video that feature a bronze pentagram, an upside down cross and, apparently, a drop of human blood in the dye so, yeah, he’s going all in on the vibe. The immediate Satanic Panic outrage was so predictable it was almost boring.
So that, on cue, other “Christians” came out and said that it is actually the fault of the church, and those wicked outraged Christians, that Lil Nas X has been so put upon:
But fortunately, plenty of other Christians were more introspective about the whole affair. Kevin Wilson, a pastor who goes by the name @CrossCultureChristian on TikTok where he’s built a large following for his cheery theological musings and chai tea recipes, said Christians should spend less time attacking Lil Nas and more time asking why the Church failed him so spectacularly. “If you’re going to demonize somebody for any reason, you better make sure that you are first living according to the truths that you profess,” Wilson said. “I believe the primary calling of all Christians is to reduce the gap between others and the way of Jesus. And you don’t do this by shoving truth pills down people’s throats.”
Because, see, Lil Nas X grew up in the church. His father is a gospel singer. Anyway, Relevant Magazine concludes this way:
“If you’re going to demonize somebody for any reason, you better make sure that you are first living according to the truths that you profess,” Wilson said. “I believe the primary calling of all Christians is to reduce the gap between others and the way of Jesus. And you don’t do this by shoving truth pills down people’s throats.” New York City pastor Dr. Jacqui Lewis agreed, saying “The true religious scandal isn’t how @LilNasX made that video. It’s that preaching ever made him feel less than beautiful, sacred and beloved.”
So anyway, as I said, this is Holy Week, which, for those who don’t know, is the week that the bad, awful church walks along with Jesus to his cross. Good Shepherd has been toiling along through the gospel of John for the last year or so, and by a kind providence, and also some planning, we will land on the resurrection on Easter morning. Which meant that Jesus was buried on Palm Sunday–fittingly, as that is how the Passion reading ends–and the Sunday before that had his side pierced.
Two things I hadn’t ever noticed rose up out of the text to greet me on these past two Sundays. First, when the people in Numbers complain against God, saying, “And we loath this worthless food,” it is very interesting that God gave them the snake on the pole, who is ultimately Jesus, whose body is the bread of life. In this way, whenever I am saying, “I loath this worthless food,” or am dissatisfied with the way that Christ is feeding me, it is really him I am rejecting, just as the people in the wilderness rejected God. On the other hand, how strange and beautiful that the food that sustains the Christian is Christ himself, no matter what any of us feel about it. He goes on offering himself to those he loves even when they err and stray, like lost sheep, and do not recognize what a nourishing and loving gift it is.
Which lead me on to consider the blood and water together flowing from Jesus’ side, and its life-giving resonance. We drink, and are also cleansed, by Christ’s blood. Lil Nas X’s other option–the Jesus shoes with a drop of holy water–has missed a great opportunity. The blood and water come out of the side of Jesus together, giving life to the world. He is the Living Water and the Cup of Salvation. By his blood he has redeemed the world. You don’t have to wear shoes with a drop of human blood in them, nor sell your soul to Satan, because his blood is strong enough to cover all your sins, his pure water sustains you in the wilderness.
So anyway, of course Lil Nas X’s provocative Satan video is as boring as all the outrage on social media. Satan himself is boring, eventually. Jesus, on the other hand, and his love for the church, is eternally fascinating. And don’t worry about those kinds of “pastors” who blame Christians for hurting the feelings of Lil Nas X. They are not walking in the way of the cross, they are not enjoining themselves to Christ’s own body–his bride, the church. They are only trying to be “relevant,” to “demonize” those who want to point them beyond themselves to that pole, that cursed man who absorbs the sins of those who look at him. Go, stand under the fountain flowing from his side and live.