I vowed a few years ago to stop wearing T-shirts with corporate logos and designers’ names plastered on them. I didn’t want to be a walking advertisement for Tommy Hilfiger or Ralph Lauren. It almost seemed offensive that I would pay a designer to advertise for him. In general, I don’t really want to be noticed for what I’m wearing, so lately I’ve been going to understated.
But part of my vow was to wear T-shirts to show my support for the things I love. The sports franchises that I have fallen for are beneficiaries of my loyalty. I love wearing Phillies, Eagles, and Sixers stuff. When I see someone, especially in a different town, wearing my teams’ colors I get pumped up. It’s like I have a friend automatically.
I have a fun time being loyal. There are all sorts of random things that I feel some sense of loyalty to: America’s Test Kitchen, Volkswagen, the Reading Terminal Market. I suppose for those corporations and businesses, I’m down with showing off my love for them.
And those aren’t the only things. I just got a Palmer Theological Seminary hoodie for example. I’m proud to wear my Schummer Sunoco and Pathways To Housing T-Shirts. Sporting my Drexel art therapy shirt that Kristen gave me feels good too. And of course, when I wear my Take Back Vacant Land and Development Without Displacement shirts, I’m supporting a political cause that has a lot of meaning for me.
The same goes for Circle of Hope. I have three of our T-shirts and I love wearing them, not just because they start good conversations, but because they help me feel like I’m part of the tribe, part of the family. For me, it’s an important reminder of who I am and why I was created. This may seem a little dramatic, but something about wearing a T-shirt (and a cross around my neck) reminds me of my citizenship in the Kingdom of God!
To use Paul’s phrase, a phrase that may go down as one of the most inclusive statements ever written, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Jesus’s death and resurrection truly created into a new humanity and a new identity. Wearing the same T-shirt is part of that reminder, but it’s about our attitude too. Rather than clamoring for individual rights (as if that is where our salvation comes from), I think we need to find a new humanity in Jesus in order to overcome the oppression of the individualized and atomized world.
I think we need to advocate for the least among us because Jesus is in them, just like he says in Matthew 25. We advocate for them because they are part of the New Humanity, they are part of the family. That radical expression is hard to believe in this world. Most of us are resisting getting sucked into the domination system. Individualism is how we resist, perhaps. But in my opinion, the way that the powers-that-be dominate us is to atomize us. Joining a movement that’s committing to creating the divine alternative, in my opinion, is a great way to resist.
T-shirt wearing is a good place to start. But you can’t wear the revolution. You can’t just put on a shirt and call it a day. But perhaps as you don a shirt representing your people, you may put on your true self and remember that you are representing the risen One too!