The Power of Paradox
So come lose your life for a carpenter’s son
For a madman who died for a dream
And you’ll have the faith His first followers had
And you’ll feel the weight of the beam
So surrender the hunger to say you must know
Have the courage to say I believe
For the power of paradox opens your eyes
And blinds those who say they can see
So we follow God’s own Fool
For only the foolish can tell
Believe the unbelievable,
And come be a fool as well
from Michael Card’s God’s Own Fool
I listened to that song a lot back in college when I was going through the whole postmodern crisis of faith thing. Before that I think I would have scoffed at the whole idea just like I’ve had people scoff at me when I have voiced similar ideas. Be a fool? Follow a fool? Choose to be stupid? Why would anyone do that?
The audacity of claiming the label “fool” when so many are quick to use it in derision confuses those that harp on truth and evidence. In a world where scientific certainty reigns and forensics has replaced mystery, to assert the power of paradox and affirm the foolishness of belief just doesn’t make sense. It isn’t the cultural norm, it doesn’t fit the dominant paradigm, it leads to ridicule and dismissal. You know the list. It’s what causes the atheists to point their fingers and laugh and the Christians to burn you at the stake as a heretic.
But all of that misses the point. I’ve been down this road of modern vs. postmodern epistemology before here on this blog and as fascinating as arguments about truth and certainty are they are often a red herring that distracts from the real issues. I’ve also admitted to not being afraid of postmodernism and do so for just this reason. I like the shift in postmodern philosophy (especially in Levinas) toward Ethics (as opposed to Epistemology) as first philosophy. So people can get their panties all in a bunch in their rush to call me postmodern relativist for not thinking that how we know things is of primary importance, but they are really missing the whole point – that of justice and how we interact with the Other as being more basic and central than any theory of knowledge. And it is that emphasis on interaction with the Other that has me proudly accepting the label of fool.
Faith is not about knowledge – what we know or how we know it, it is about following in the footsteps of a fool. Jesus was a fool in the eyes of the world. He has been accredited with ushering in an upside-down kingdom – where the first shall be last and the last shall be first. He cared for those whom society cast aside, he instructed us to love our enemies, he called the underdogs blessed. By anyone’s standards he was a fool. And he called us to follow him. As many have stated recently, this isn’t about affirming a secret set of knowledge but about entering into a way of life. It is about following the fool, being content in mystery, affirm the power of paradox, and turning the world upside-down.
Following the fool and choosing the foolish way isn’t about stupidity vs. knowledge. Those things don’t matter, or at least matter much less than the values of the Kingdom. Loving others and living subversively are foolish in the eyes of the world and so we follow God’s own fool and choose to be fools as well.
Find more contributions to this month’s Synchroblog on God’s use of fools at –
Phil Wyman at Square No More
Fools Rush In by Sonja Andrews
That Darn Ego by Jonathan Brink
Won’t Get Fooled Again by Alan Knox
Strength on the Margins by Igneous Quill
Foolish Heart by Erin Word
A Fool’s Choice by Cindy Harvey
Quiet Now, God’s Calling by Jenelle D’Alessandro
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right… By Mike Bursell
Ship of Fools by David Fisher
Hut Burning for God by Father Gregory
God Used This Fool by Cobus van Wyngaard
Fool if you think its over by Paul Walker
Blessed are the foolish — foolish are the blessed by Steve Hayes
What A Fool I’ve Been by Reba Baskett
The foolishness of God and the foolishness of Christians. by KW
My Foolish Calling by Lisa Borden
What a Fool Believes by Sue at Discombobula
God Uses Foolish Things by Sally