Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Holy Fool - January 2008 SynchroBlog

Father Michael joined us for a few weeks. He stayed on our couch most evenings, and some nights stayed with another couple in the church. He still wore his black Orthodox robes, and carried a backpack filled with a few things he owned, which included some relics, and a thurible.
I jokingly referred to him as our episcopi vagantes, and I suppose the reference wasn't too far off. He had been an Orthodox monk for 14 years, and was recently asked to leave the monastery, because he had a strong fundamentalist pentecostal streak which wanted to get out on the streets preaching. He felt that not doing so was somehow missing the Gospel purpose.
Father Michael had devoted everything to the service to God. All his possessions were given to the Order when he entered in his early twenties. He helped make wine in one monastery, and did carpenter work in another. He rose early to pray. He kept the strict schedule of the monastic life with long work days, regular prayer and meditation hours throughout the day - even waking at midnight each day to keep the prayer hours of his Orthodox order.

When he was asked to leave the order he owned nothing but his backpack of belongings. He had no money. He had only one change of clothes apart from his robes, and he decided to travel over 500 miles to Salem, because he thought he might be of service to the Pagan community by meeting the people, and preaching the Gospel there.

Father Michael came to Salem and found us. For almost a month he fellowshiped and lived with The Gathering. He kept the hours of prayer, and shared his beliefs and experiences with us.

Father Michael had been stabbed multiple times while preaching on the street during his younger years before entering the monastic life. He had been kicked out of cities, and asked not to return. Eventually he found a place to rest his head, and express his passion for God in Orthodox Monasticism.

Michael and I discussed St. Basil of Moscow who was known as one of God's Holy Fools. St. Basil of Moscow is one of Russian Orthodoxy's most revered saints. He not only gave up his possessions, but also his reputation to behave in peculiar ways which appeared foolish, but revealed the gracious goodness of God.

Is there a place in our society for the Holy Fool? Or was there ever a place for Holy Fools in our world? Are they the so other-worldly saints who are willing to sacrifice reputation for the sake of the Gospel, and in doing so model living the Kingdom life for us all? Could it be that we should all take on some of the characteristics of the Holy Fool? Could it be that in doing so we fulfill walking in the power of God?

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.

The Holy Fool by Phil Wyman
The Power of Paradox by Julie Clawson
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 Jennelle 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
The Foolishness of God and the Foolishness of Christians by KW Leslie
What a Fool Believes by Sue at Discombobula
Fools Rush In by Sonja Andrews
What A Fool I've Beena> by Reba Baskett
God Uses Foolish Things by Sally Coleman


cern said...

Heh, I wonder if someone will pick up on the fools journey approach to Tarot. Does that appear in the John Drane et al book about using the Tarot to teach the gospel?



Sally said...

Thank you for this story Phil, we need the challenge of Holy fools!

As for the fools journey approach to Tarot- I have picked up on that one :-). (no surprise there I guess....)

Pastor Phil said...

Hey Mike,

I was hoping someone would run that line of discussion on this set of SynchroBlogs, but I think that I will link to the posts I've seen which follow the fool's journey.

Pastor Phil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pastor Phil said...

I was hoping someone would go there, and low and behold as I read a few posts you went there. Of course you would have been my first bet on who would go there. Cool.

Sally said...

Oh dear- I'd better find a new way of being unpredictable....

Steve Hayes said...


At least two of us (that I've seen so far) linked our posts in this Synchroblog to the Fool in the Tarot, though we do seem to have chosen radically different images to do so!

Adam Gonnerman said...

So, whatever happened to Father Michael?

And you... said...

We are not sure. He headed for the south, and then heard he wanted to return to Salem, but haven't seen him for awhile.

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