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The following allegory written by David Perry gives a humorous, but serious reflection on differences of attitude.  We recommend you read through before cheating and looking at the glossary at the end!

THE ALLEGORY OF THE RED SOCKS

Once upon a time the many peoples of the world wore many different coloured socks — white, grey, blue, green, violet, brown —  but not red ones. There was one tribe, though, which thought itself very special and a cut above the rest. It wore pink socks.  

Then one day a man appeared wearing red socks. Some people were shocked, others, mostly ordinary people, thought they were rather cool. The man told the friends he had gathered how to make red socks and they were amazed how much happier they were when they were wearing them. So much so that they recommended red socks to everyone they met. The pink sock people thought it was a passing fashion and used to poke fun at them (the Everreddies, as they were quickly nicknamed, got their own back in the centuries that followed).  

Gradually red socks became more numerous than pink socks and they appeared in dribs and drabs all over the world, even in England ! For many years the world and the politicians thought nowt about it. By and large wearing red socks didn’t seem to make much difference except that there~ was usually a family row if someone, especially the women and girls, started sporting red socks. You definitely had to know what you were about to wear red socks. There were, from time to time, bans on red socks but it didn’t make much difference. The number of Everreddies carried on increasing.  

But in time a great transformation occurred. In the beginning everyone bar those wearing them thought red socks were stupid. But the Everreddies gradually built up such an international network that one politician, Socksintime, thought: Red socks are found everywhere — I want my empire to be everywhere. I’ll pin a pair of red socks on my flag and see what happens. It worked. With red socks on his flag he won all his battles and murdered all his enemies.  

But by now the red socks were not the simple home-knitted things they had been. The dyes had never been consistent from the beginning and there was a wide range of reds. But over the years these different reds began to be studied and whole groups of experts grew up, each of whom was sure that he knew exactly the shade of red the first man had worn  

Socksintime got rather fed up with all this debate about redness. He couldn’t see why it mattered and he didn’t want the international network he wanted to take over and develop with government grants and tax privileges to get all snarled up. So, he paid all expenses for a special Everreddy conference and announced he was settling for a plain red. This would provide a consistent logo throughout his empire. But it took years to get plain red accepted; lots of people were still wearing orangey-red socks and, indeed, selling them to whole tribes of first time buyers. But in the end plain red won the day. The emperor of the time, Therednoseius, simply said: Plain red socks are compulsory for everybody; anybody without plain red socks is a public enemy  

By this time the red sock international network was doing such good business that, instead of hand knitting the socks as it had in the old days and making sure they were a good fit for each particular pair of feet, it started mass producing them. They also decided it would be easier to make them smaller, having realised that if they made them new born infant size, they would win out in two ways. It would be a lot less effort and expense on materials and it would keep Therednosius happy.  

Stisgusting, the North African, made the breakthrough for the mass manufacturers. Instead of hand-knitting with its variety ofsizes and natural dyes, he came up with what he called O.S. — Original Specification. This comprised a sock of Standard Infant Norm, known in the trade as Original Sin and, whereas the older dyes had been made from slow drying natural materials (in many places Everreddies found a three year drying period most effective), Stisgusting’s plain red was a consistent chemical concoction that dried instantly — known in the trade as PVC or Pre-Venient Concoction.  

So it came about that the wearing of red socks which had originally been the chosen eccentricity of a small group of people became compulsory from birth for everybody.  

In the earlier days it was believed that in a family where one member enjoyed wearing red socks, everyone else benefitted even if they never got round to getting their own red socks organised. But under the new deal, when it was compulsory to wear plain red socks, the by now full-time professional state-subsidised manufacturers said: If you leave this world without plain red socks, you’ve had it. You’re a no-hoper.  

Over the centuries many people doubted the truth of this assertion. Moreover, whenever they looked carefully at the four colour cards and other specifications made by the early Everreddies of the original pair of red socks, they discovered an amazing richness and variety. Some people were better at doing this than others. Those who came up with a description of the original red socks too far away from plain red got into terrible trouble. There was always trouble too when people suggested abandoning the mass produced PVC dyed tiny red socks and going back to fully fashioned hand-knitted socks dyed with natural substances.  

In later times still the red socked world was shocked to discover that there were many people in many parts of the world who had never heard of red socks and who seemed to be managing fairly well wearing blue, brown and even yellow socks! Later still, the governments of Everreddy countries said that the wearing of red socks from birth was no longer compulsory and the red sock trade went into marked decline.  

Nowadays the promoters of the various shades of red socks are coming to realise that the richness of the original socks does not allow any shade to claim total authenticity at the expense of the rest. There is also a growing suspicion that every pair of feet deserves respect, that O.S. and PVC have had their day and that we would all have a marvellous time if we got back to fully-fashioned hand-knitted using an ancient dye that used to be nicknamed Pentecost. Amazing the variety of reds you can find in one flame!

 

DAVID PERRY 29th June 1991

Skirlaugh Vicarage

 

If you are not sure what all this is about, please click help

 

This should open another window containing the glossary and analysis

 

Glossary:

 

Socks = religion    Pink socks = Judaism         

A man wearing red socks = Jesus

Everreddies = Christians

Socksintime = the Emperor Constantine

Special Everreddy Conference = Council of Nicaea

Orangey-red socks = e.g. Ulfilas an Arian who converted many tribes in the Balkans

Therednoseius – the Emperor Theodosius I who made re-baptism a criminal offence

Stisgusting = Augustine

O.S. = Original Sin

Three year drying period = the catechumenate, i.e. programme of Christian teaching and nurture leading up to baptism

PVC = doctrine of irresistible grace to guarantee efficacy of baptising infants

 

Content analysis

 

Paragraph 1:          time before Christ

Paragraph 2:          Jesus and the infant church

Paragraph 3:          period of spontaneous expansion of the Church through evangelism and catechumenate and the baptism of catechumens.

Paragraph 4:          Constantine ’s decision to try out the God of the Christians

Paragraph 5:          varieties of theological formulation, including Arianism

Paragraph 6:          Council of Nicaea and transition period from 325ad to 380ad by which time the Church becomes the Establishment

Paragraph 7:          Infant baptism increases to provide political undergirding of a Christian empire

Paragraph 8:          Augustine develops doctrine of Original Sin to provide theological justification for making infant baptism the norm

Paragraph 9:          contrast between the voluntarism of the earlier centuries and the compulsory set up now in place

Paragraph 10:        refers to variety of Anabaptists and others who from time to time challenged the rightness of infant baptism

Paragraph 11:        effect on Europeans of discovering peoples in north and south America who were not Christians

When countries introduced civil registration of births in 19th century, the urgency for infants to be baptised as soon as possible decreased

Paragraph 12:        Expression of the hope that we might actually face up to the new way the church must operate to be true to its nature

 What I have written is totally controversial and many would disagree

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