Foolish Rally


Gimpel.jpgProgressive religious folks will be on hand for tomorrow’s One Nation Working Together rally in Washington, putting their faith-based shoulders to the wheel in the Schultzian hope of changing the national script. And here’s hoping it all works out.

But what I’d really like to see is a coalition of the Mainstream Religious (MSR) sign up for the Stewart/Colbert Restore Sanity/Keep Fear Alive carnival at the end of the month. Sure, the Democratic congressional leadership is too stupid to understand what the Comedy Central stars are up to, but those in the religion biz ought to recognize what’s going on–especially the Christians.

Basil.jpgIn First Corinthians, Paul refers to the apostles as “fools for Christ’s sake,” and ever since there has been a tradition of holy fools. Theirs is not the direct prophetic assault on the status quo and the powers-that-be. Rather, it’s the quiet and comedic witness of decency and humanity. In Western Christianity, St. Francis is perhaps the most prominent case in point; Eastern Orthodoxy has many examples–which perhaps inspired Isaac Bashevis Singer to write his iconic story “Gimpel the Fool,” about an apparent naif who bears with good humor the outrages of the world and ends up as a species of Jewish saint.

Stewart the Jew and Colbert the Catholic propose to address the lunacy of the moment with self-mocking moderation. The scores of thousands who have signed up on Facebook understand the power of their holy foolishness. The MSR should too.