“Noah built an ark, the prophet Hosea married a prostitute, poor suffering Job refused to curse God, and John the Baptist ate bugs in the wilderness. They all experienced doubt. They all had things to learn. Yet their unconventional behavior drew attention to their vision, which conveys essential truth.” Jeffrey Overstreet
Week 3 – Fools and Jokers
Movie of the Week – The Fisher King
Webster defines ‘the fool’ as “One who is destitute in reason, or the common powers of understanding; an idiot.”
We see ‘the fool’ everyday. In the neighborhood, at work, on the highway, in our families, and if we’re honest, in the mirror.
When I meet ‘the fool’, I should pay close attention. My reaction to him reveals a great deal about the state of my heart.
Am I quick to judge?
Grateful that I am not him?
Offended by his choices and behavior?
Or am I willing to pause and see that the fool has something to teach me. . .
“Some of the great fools, as Hamlet proves to be, behave in the manic fashion more deliberately and strategically in order to unsettle those around them and lure wrongdoers into exposing their devices.” – p. 210
“If I’m confronted with bizarre behavior on the street or on the bus, I am likely to cross at the nearest crosswalk or get up and move closer to the bus driver. But in the safety of my theater seat, I sometimes find that these characters reveal a great deal not only through their ranting but also by the way they provoke people around them to all manner of revealing behavior.” – p.201
“In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Finding Neverland and Nurse Betty, these characters stir up trouble for the strict, the proud, the upright and the overly rational.” – p.208
1) What character comes to mind when you think of “the fool”? What truth did he/she reveal?
Take a few minutes to read “Why Honey Boo Boo is Like a Flannery O’Connor Character” by Jonathan Rogers. (Rumor has it that Jonathan may have a few things to add to our discussion in the upcoming weeks.)
2. What do you make of the Honey Boo Boo article? How does it relate to Overstreet’s take on ‘the fool’?
“The healthiest laughter is that which recognizes our shared fallibility.” -p.226
“Many of us are laughing because we see and reject the errors on display and because we are admitting our own culpability in such folly, without despairing from the shame of it. The laughter is release: I’ve been there, I recognize that, I acknowledge the folly of human behavior, and I know there’s a better way.” – p.220
We enjoy comedy streaming from the TV or movie screen.
Our laughter is spontaneous, involuntary and without invoking further reflection.
We move on to the next scene, sitcom, or to decide what we’ll have for dinner, grateful for having been given a break from the “real world.
But occasionally. . .
As we’re gulping in prime-time lightheartedness,
We ingest traces of something more substantive.
We discover that the comic elixir wasn’t a mixture of well-timed stunts, clever puns, or sticky situations. It was concocted from the most basic ingredients. Those that represent the truth of who we really are – the good, the bad, the obvious, the unspeakable.
Have a taste.
3. How can comedy convey eternal truths? What does laughter (even at ourselves, or perhaps particularly at ourselves) have to do with Hope?
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For further reading:
Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale by Frederick Buechner