Posts Tagged ‘Foolishness’

Getting right about where to look

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Christianity is about reframing, about recasting.  It is not about easing the journey through the life – though it often does that.  It is not about bringing peace as in comfort – though it often does that as well.  It is about reframing the world and how we choose to live in it, about joining a wider project.  To see the soul of this faith, we need to slip beneath the waves of common culture so to speak, easing ourselves down into a greater reality.  The apostle Paul spoke to this thousands of years ago in these words from 1 Corinthians.

“Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,  but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

I love the line that for some the “block” was the desire for miraculous signs for others wisdom.   Profound.  I smile at how little we have changed.  An avowed atheist turned Christian, Mary Carr spoke of her spiritual life breaking open when she could finally say the word “Christian” without immediately coughing out the word – underneath her breath – “idiot.”  It is so easy to think of faith as needing the miraculous sign often because we see it as anti-intellectual, as flying right in the face of wisdom!

But the “foolishness” of God, of faith is actually a deep wisdom.  Last night I was reading of a group of Franciscan monks serving in the South Bronx.  No cell phones.  No iPods.  No money.  Just them – willingly stripped down to their capacity to love and serve others.   To many – and to me on certain days – that type of life style is baffling, foolish.  And yet who is engaging life from the deepest wisdom?  As the author noted he paradoxically found in these robbed brothers the most “out of touch” and yet “in touch” people he had ever met.  On a trip uptown, the world of Manhattan looked a lot more lost than the Franciscan world he found in the South Bronx.

Maybe that is why “holy fools” create such an impact on this earth.  I am often dismayed at the “Jesus Marketing Movement” that speaks almost exclusively of church growth vs. church mission. “Holy Fools” like those Franciscans as well as a few marginalized Swedenborgians – all of whom by the way I think would identify themselves as “Christians” first and foremost, preferring that to a denomination label – gently remind me that in simply and courageously living the Gospels we will appear “foolish” much of the time.  But that foolishness quietly conveys a gentle statement that “Life Can Be Different. Life is More.”