Nakedness is a Funny Thing
In his excellent book, Strong & Weak, Andy Crouch discusses the unique phenomenon of nakedness, something, as he will argue, no other species really experiences. “Nakedness” has, for good reason, been used as a shorthand for experiences of vulnerability. Therefore, one might argue, a part of what it means to be human is to be naked is to be vulnerable:
Of all the creatures in the world, only human beings can be naked. By adulthood, every other creature naturally possesses whatever fur, scales or hide are necessary to protect it from its environment. No other creature—even naked mole rats or Mr. Bigglesworth, the hairless feline sidekick of Mike Myers’s movie villain Dr. Evil—shows any sign, in its natural state, of feeling incomplete in the way that human beings consistently do. Only human beings live our whole lives able to return to a state that renders us uniquely vulnerable, not just to nature but to one another.
Nothing to Hide
The relationship between wartime leaders Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt has been well chronicled by historians of the period. On one visit to the United States, Roosevelt wheeled himself right into the British Prime Minister’s bedroom, opened the door to find Churchill completely naked and yet unashamed. Churchill’s response was classic: “You see, Mr. President, we British have nothing to hide.”
Stuart Strachan Jr.
A Wild Naked Man Running Towards Me Is A Very Scary Thing
The Summer Before Junior High School was filled with anticipation. I was excited to leave elementary school behind me. Junior high sounded so robust and adult. And I felt ready—with one caveat. Physical education class. The rumor was that we had to shower after each class . . . and that the showering process was communal. In other words, we had to get naked and take a shower with a bunch of other naked guys. Not cool. I wasn’t alone in my anxiety about this.
In one heartfelt and vulnerable exchange, my best friend looked at his shoes and said, “Dude, don’t be looking at me in the shower.” To which I replied, “Dude, I’m only going to be looking at myself.” To this day, a naked man remains one of the last things I’d like to see. If a naked man were running toward me, arms flailing and everything else jangling close behind, I would be highly unnerved. But this was precisely what Jesus encountered as He prepared to dock in the land of the Gerasenes.
When Helping Hurts: An American in the Philippines
An American woman visiting the Philippines, observed an elderly woman on the outskirts of Manila. She looked poverty-stricken and walked with the help of a cane down into a ditch alongside a main road. The American observed the woman struggling and assumed she needed help.
As she approached the elderly woman, the woman began to shake her cane at the American, hurling curse words and a barrage of threats. While somewhat unsure of the situation, the American continued to pursue the woman. It was not until she got close enough that she realized her mistake: the woman was not in trouble, she was just attempting to have her daily “bathroom” visit in peace without the help of an over-anxious, do-gooder American.
Stuart Strachan Jr., Source Material: Cross-Cultural Servanthood by Duane Elmer.