More Thoughts on the Hokey Pokey

hokey pokey
I believe each of us, in our own journey of faith, come to a precipice where we are forced to see the world in a new way and question the sureness of the foundation upon which we’ve placed our trust. For many of us this comes after reading Dawkins, or attending that class at college with the amazingly compelling professor. For me, that came just a few weeks ago when it was insinuated that perhaps the “Hokey Pokey” is more accurately a “Hokey Phony”.

Rob Trawick, on this very blog you suggest that the “Hokey Pokey” is “a waste of time and a bad philosophy of life all rolled into one package.” Now, up until this point in my life I considered myself a connoisseur of the finer things – the Hokey Pokey, a corndog at the state fair, a cold Coca Cola after mowing the lawn. But all that came crumbling down around me, just like the arms of friends singing London Bridge is falling down. If the Hokey Pokey is a lie, what can I believe?

Just when I thought I had reached rock bottom of this metaphysical crisis, Pastor Debbie came into my office and told me this week her sermon was on the Hokey Pokey.

The truth is, she probably said something more along the lines of, “we will be exploring the allegorical use of the human body as a metaphor for the relationship we all share in the community of believers as articulated by Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth” or something like that, but all I heard was HOKEY POKEY.

And in an instant, I was back on team Hokey Pokey – I was as sure as ever that the immortal line of the chorus laid a strong foundation for a faithful life, the Hokey Pokey really is “what it’s all about!”

In order to do the Hokey Pokey, you must call on each part of your body in turn, your right arm, left arm, right foot, left foot, often your head and in some versions of the song, even your rear end. In the Hokey Pokey, each part of the body is called to serve something bigger and by joining together these random body parts become more than just the sum of their parts, they become the Hokey Pokey.

The Truth articulated in those “insipid lyrics” speak to the child in all of us. We are called to action in service of something bigger than ourselves. Life isn’t just about what happens inside our brain, life is about calling our whole bodies into action. And religion isn’t just about the prophetic teaching elders or the healing deacons, each of us is called to offer we have in service of that greater truth.

In this community of believers we are all ordained to service together – to serve with our tongues, our hearts, our hands, and maybe from time to time even our brains. Each one of us is a unique and crucial aspect of this dance we call religion. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s what it’s all about.

Bryan Bardin is the Director of Christian Education and Youth Ministries at Pleasantville Presbyterian Church, unless you ask him, in which case he’ll tell you he prefers the title, “Trouble-maker in Residence”.

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