GREAT WORDS: Frederich Buechner on Walking in the Steps of a Fool


“Inspection stickers used to have printed on the back, ‘Drive carefully: the life you save may be your own.’ That is the wisdom of men in a nutshell.


“What God says, on the other hand, is, ‘The life you save is the life you lose.’ In other words, the life you clutch, hoard, guard, and play safe with is in the end a life worth little to anybody, including yourself; and only a life given away for love’s sake is a life worth living.


“To bring this point home, God shows us a man who gave his life away to the extent of dying a national disgrace without a penny in the bank or a friend to his name. In terms of men’s wisdom, he was a perfect fool, and anybody who thinks he can follow him without making something like the same kind of fool of himself is laboring not under a cross but a delusion.”

—Frederick Buechner, Listening to Your Life


The Fool surrounded by the life and works of Jesus Christ. (A.A. Atanassov’s The Golden Tarot of the Tsar, © Lo Scarabeo, Torino, Italy, 2003.)


“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the learning of the learned I
will set aside.’


“Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith. For Jews demanded signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is greater than human strength.


“Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God. It is due to Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.’”

—1 Corinthians 1:26-31*



We are fools on Christ’s account, but you are wise in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clad and roughly treated, we wander about homeless and we toil, working with our own hands. When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we respond gently. We have become like the world’s rubbish, the scum of all, to this very moment.”

—1 Corinthians 4:10-13


The Fool card, Visconti-Sforza tarot deck  c. 1450


For more on “the Wise Fool/the Foolish Hero” check out this well-written blog by Ginny Hunt at 78 Notes to Self: A Tarot Journal.




* All Biblical passages in this post are referenced from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970.





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Posted in Catholic Philosophy, Discovering Meaning in Imagery, Great Quotes, Reading for Virtue, Tarot Reading, Virtue Philosophy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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