Farmers Market

Einblick

Farfalline

Bilmek

Lewis & Quark

Einblick

A Letter From Folly


I love getting letters. There's something special about a piece of paper being scrabbled on and sent to you specifically, overcoming odds, time, and the elements to get to your mailbox. However, this weekend, I received a letter I did not want -- one that simultaneously worried me and had me laughing the whole way through. A few months ago, after a speech of mine, a ginger woman in a red and yellow suit with a jester hat, skirt, and tights, looking like a bad cosplay of Two-Face, approached me. Smiling, she asked me if I believed what I said. I responded in the affirmative, and she laughed. Imagine the best laugh you can, and then multiply it by ten. This woman (girl?) had obviously spent a good portion of her time laughing. "Boy," she said, "let me tell you something."
     And she proceeded to tell me she was Folly, friend of Erasmus, and the embodiment of foolishness for all time and space. She invited me to a speech of hers the next day -- at a college conference hall. I went. It was hilarious. That was when I drew her, as you can see above. She satirized the male gender in particular, and received a standing ovation, despite her setting. The next time I saw her was a liberal rally, dressed in too-short shorts, a ripped denim jacket over a small halter, whispering through her black lipstick to the rally's leader. After that, a political speech decked out as a supporter of the candidate. Then a concert as an "emo." And later, at my church with a full skirt and green vest. Then she came to another speech. I asked her about her comings and goings.
     She smiled and said, "all are my servants." The next weekend, I got a letter from her. And I wrote back. And back and forth. Until this past weekend, it was always secular culture, or a discipline of sorts (the law, psychology, politics, etc.), but never the Church. This is the exception. I have added references to some forgetfulness on her part. It went like this:

"Dear Daniel,

It is no small task to take up my voice against any institution. It is no small task to go against a large, popular, and often well-reputed organization. I, Folly, being the garrulous woman I am, however, have no qualms about my subject today—the sheer folly of the modern church. I thought the happenings of the church in the earlier days were thoughtless. I am eternal, and I live as long as I please, I will lay my life down and take it again. (John 10:17) Someone has said this before. I forget. What the church today has forgotten, however, is of much more gravity and weight. When sermons are preached, when doctrine is revealed, I find pastors and doctors on the peripheral vision of theology.
     "What modern preacher speaks of justification? What pastor talks of what my good friend Erasmus spoke of, of the human will and its relation to God? And what of those who do? The ones who know man, know themselves, and are unafraid, speak as though they hated knowledge of my servants Plato, Aquinas, Erasmus, and Dante. “Throw out the wisdom of the world!” they proclaim, as the world squanders its life for lack of knowledge. The men who claim to love wisdom are in fact my best subjects. I suppose that perhaps, they want their churches happy, like any sensibly insensible men—true servants of mine. What better path to bliss than to blind them to most knowledge? “The Bible is enough,” they cheerily preach, as they explain the value of the pure unadulterated word of God. And what’s more, they can’t seem to use what they call “the foundation of their faith” to create any lasting bonds with other people.
     "You, my friend and servant, said that if the essentials for salvation are in place between two groups, they can congregate in peace. What a load! Churches frequently prove themselves the greatest servants of me by dividing over the color of the carpeting of their “sanctuary” as if it was so holy, and not polluted by their pure foolery. And I won’t even begin to talk about the children the church produces, and the materials they provide for them.
     "Does 'the Church' even exist any longer?  The Church, even though in theory it should unite, is all disparate, wandering about, useful to only their individual, relatively small group. The popes have turned, now fools swayed with each passing fad, replaced with hundreds of groups scattered to the wind. And most churches, as previously noted, know painfully little. My servants are supposed to know little, but the right little. These do not know even that. And the sheep are scattered for lack of shepherds. (Matthew 26:31) These pastors are more my friends than the popes of old. I love humans—constantly running into the same problems again and again. When one sin is condemned, another takes its place as legal. When one heresy is rooted up, another sprouts. The church is now carried along in the wake of culture around it instead of creating culture. What’s more, it has cut itself off from its heritage, its history and its past—just like the culture that engulfs it.
     "The ones who wish to come against my stirring of men’s hearts are caught up in my wiles. Forever they strive for better and better, but in the knowledge that perfection will never occur by their actions. Everyone in the equation serves me, wittingly or unwittingly. The church doesn’t need fixing. It needs resurrection. And the more folly they mix into their wine, the closer they come to an end. Everything ends. Even my letter does. Stupid modern pens.

Eternal Foolery,

-Folly

P.S. Don't forget to laugh more."

     I have quite a few things to say here. For one, I am not, not in any circumstances, Folly's friend, or servant, or anything of the like. I have corresponded with her, but always to the end of learning -- the same way you might learn from a bad example. Unfortunately, she makes multiple valid points. Maybe it would be best to list them and address them.

  • Pastors and teachers do not teach the essential doctrines of the Christian faith
  • The Church despises "non-biblical" knowledge
  • Church unity is a hopeless dream
  • The Church has lost its connection to the past
  • Despite all efforts to fix things, all problems will never be solved
     I confess -- these all have bases in reality. These all are reflections of problems that face the Church today. And honestly, whole posts could be written on each of these points. Pastors and teachers may not always teach the essential doctrines, but they can't always preach on the same thing. And maybe a majority do not address them as they ought, but definitely not all ignore them. Be wary of universals. The Church does not despise all "non-biblical" knowledge -- why then would anyone read anything outside of the Bible?
     Church unity, however, is another matter. I believe that it grieves God that the church is divided. But a singular, universal, institutional Church has proven itself to fall easily into corruption—and divisions among the church have solved many of those problems.
     Unfortunately, her last point makes a lot of sense. However, that doesn't mean we should stop trying. Just because we can never achieve perfection doesn't mean that God won't. It may sound weak, but God will fix things. God will make things perfect. And even though, in our lifetime, we may never see that happen, God has a plan. God will use us to reach perfection. Because it's not us that matters -- it's God, and His plans for us.

P.S. Laughing is not my thing.
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