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Jewels Plucked From the Fist of Folly

"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 THE FOOLISHNESS OF GOD IS WISER THAN HUMAN WISDOM."

clip_image002Part Two

Part Three

 

The Bible has gone to great lengths to show that all of mankind, I say again, all of mankind, are deluded. Solomon has said conclusively, “Vanity of vanity, all is vanity,” and also that “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child.” Men upon the face of the earth are all men chasing shadows, all the days of their lives, and men, at the very height of their glory, are all mad. The domicile of delirium, i.e. worldly happiness, is the home of Folly, and is better known as common “foolishness,” and we could say stupidity, silliness, asininity, absurdity, imbecility, or mild mannered craziness, but let’s not get particular. This Folly, who loosely closes her fist and allows her many jewels to be heisted, with only a pretense of resistance; and sheepishly hides her face from our insanity, while attaining a howling good time, is the same goddess of this world who freely dispenses those things which, we suppose, make us happy. In our madness the pretense becomes the reality, and to unveil the charade is to spoil the whole production. To remove the actor’s make-up is to ruin the play; and to expose the play as a travesty, could well earn you a lashing, if not literal at least of the tongue. This foolishness is what those of the world call logic, wisdom, and intelligence, and that is the great delusion of mankind, and the great entertainment of Folly.

This idea of exposing the folly shut up in the bodies of men is not new with me, so I’ll take a minute to give some credit where credit is due, to Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, who wrote the renowned work, The Praise of Folly, in the year 1511. I have loosely followed his lead without quoting him directly, while trying to retain his method of delivering a needed message through irony.

It seems that Erasmus was on his way back from Italy to England where he was visiting Vanity Fair, i.e. the Italian Renaissance (def., re-birth) himself being a Dutch Renaissance humanist Catholic Priest, having seen firsthand the bud of humanism opened in full bloom, the fruit of which are the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, along with grand new ideas of literature, science, art, religion, and politics. Simultaneously with the Renaissance there was occurring the Reformation. Erasmus lived during the Reformation period, but while he was very critical of the Catholic Church, as is evidenced in The Praise of Folly, he could not bring himself to join the cause of the Reformers. In relation to clerical abuses in the Catholic Church, Erasmus remained committed to reforming the Church from within; bad idea, which has never worked.

The Reformation, now having seen five hundred years of progress, has fallen into a similar situation as the Catholic Church,  a severe degradation of both the clergy and the laity. Here again, trying to reform from within is probably not going to work, but only a strict obedience to Scripture to, “Come out from amongst them and be ye separate,” will work. As in the Catholic Church most will remain within, because that is the easiest path. And also, as during the Reformation, there is a heavy cost of swimming against the tide of the prevailing religious sentiments.

During Erasmus’ prolonged trip of about two months, and incited by his disgust of both secular and ecclesiastical corruption, he allowed himself a little levity and penned his famous book The Praise of Folly, Morias Enkomion (Μωρίας Εγκώμιον). Sometimes the book is called “In Praise of More,” since the book was dedicated to Sir Thomas More, whose title is a play on the name of More, Morias meaning folly.

Folly praises self-deception and madness and moves to a satirical examination of pious but superstitious abuses of Catholic doctrine and corrupt practices in parts of the Roman Catholic Church—to which Erasmus was ever faithful—and the folly of pedants (including Erasmus himself). Erasmus had recently returned disappointed from Rome, where he had turned down offers of advancement in the curia, and Folly increasingly takes on Erasmus' own chastising voice. The essay ends with a straightforward statement of Christian ideals. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

More, who consequently, is recognized by the Catholic Church as an English Saint and martyr was beheaded by Henry the VIII for his part in opposing the Reformation and Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

One last note of consequence is the fact that Erasmus fully expected to be attacked for his satirical uncovering of the foolishness within the Catholic Church, and mankind in general. It has always been the gift of the Court Jester to present truth immersed in the roar of laughter. A character trait of the true worldling is the ability to laugh at himself while not allowing any of the reality of truth to impinge upon his understanding or bring light into his darkness. When truth registers with an individual it inevitably brings a change of life, or it can bring an uproar and condemnation.

I’m not here to make anyone angry, but to exhibit some of the things which we wise and intelligent humans mistake for genuine wisdom, and pride ourselves in accomplishing. So, grab a cup of coffee and let’s take a look at a few of the jewels that Folly toys herself with.

pty-clownFolly is not partial, because every flesh covered human is her offspring, and all of humankind has inherited, and is afflicted with, her madness. For men to try and define her foolishness, in all of its complexity, is like a fish trying to comprehend wetness; it can be done, but Folly’s way is to just simply abandon yourself and enjoy it, and to see it in it ridiculous outfit knowing that we all walk around in our own custom tailored clown suits.

 

A Note From Folly

You may ask, “Is there a value in foolishness?” Of course there is value! Isn’t it your laughable illusions that enable you to live a happy life? Even your own marketers know that if you perceive something as valuable, then who is to say it isn’t? and everyone values a good time. It is only those intellectual types and Puritans who would destroy the illusion, and bring discontentment, with a display of matters-of-fact; it is the wise man that disturbs the peace; but the wise man in doing so becomes a wise fool. The wise man, Solomon, warns us not to “…answer a fool according to his folly, or we will be like him.” A modern translation might say, “Don’t argue with a fool; those who pass by can’t tell the difference.” He who is madder laughs at him who is less; the wise man is only a well-to-do beggar, or an ingenious jughead; and the best you can hope for is borderline sanity. Ignorance is bliss.

clip_image006 Stultitia-

The Jewel Pouch

With that introduction let’s go swimming in the lake of madness. Let it be known that we are not talking about truth, I mean true truth; but rather the truth inherent in madness, the truth of this world, the truth of apparent reality. We will not separate the madness of religion from all the other forms of madness, because in the final analysis they are all the same, but we will distinguish between two variants of madness, as expounded by Plato, one being evil, and the other being divine or good. Plato, not knowing anything divine except the plethora of divinity ignorantly worshiped by the masses, speaks of this good type of madness as from these gods; but it is Folly’s madness none the less, and not really divine, but merely a matter of degree, and exhibited in a more peaceful manner. So, what we really have is evil madness and good madness, both of which show up in religion and the world. Our goal is primarily to expose the madness or foolishness that we call happiness; the other madness, of mayhem and murder, should be apparent without comment.

Our dear Stultitia will:

  1. Endeavor to show, and provide, the necessary illusions to render life in this world tolerable and pleasant.
  2. Show how she makes the professional churchmen and statesmen blind enough to be happy while conducting their various irresponsibilities.
  3. Enable the Christian fool to see how incompatible the happiness of this world is with Christian joy; and to inadvertently provide a way of escape.

Irony of Irony; A Fools Life is the Best Life, and You Can Have “Your Best Life Now”

Stultitia, also known as Folly, has a very bad reputation, even amongst them who should know better, her loftiest students, the wise. They would even call her stupid, but not to her face. When she walks into a room everyone, including the snobs, become perky and giddy, because it is she who pours into the hearts of men the delight they crave. It is Folly that transforms them when they come forth out of their winters of melancholy boredom into the spring time of ecstatic ignorant elation. What their stuffy preachers couldn’t achieve in two hours of chatter, Folly accomplishes by just entering the room.

There is a reason that she wears the cap and bells of the certified fool. Take a moment and listen carefully, but not like you listen at Church, half asleep, but the way you listen to the saleslady or man who’s wrapping you around their little finger, or the low brow comedian telling off color jokes. What you will hear from her, is not nonsense, but a rational argument exhibiting untold treasures. She’s not at all ashamed of self-love either, or to pat herself on the back, after all, who knows her better than herself.

Folly keeps the best of company. Who is the company that Folly keeps? Isn’t it obvious? It is those who feed on flattery and all who practice the fine art of self-love. We may think it a shame for others to praise one self, and the wise men teach it also, but tell one of them they’re mistaken on some issue and see how quick they come to their own defense. Folly’s self-praise is considerably less offensive and more modest than the run-of-the-mill human author or speaker who pays good money to have someone else endorse him or sing his praises, or speak sheer lies, and elevate him to Heaven itself, and set him as the model of all virtue. Do you see how very modest Folly is compared to these guys; she would never make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. She is very open and honest about it all!

But, there is that other company too, the common man. He will go to any length to hear his name mentioned in some praise worthy way, whether on the dock, or in the office, from the pulpit, or in the newspaper. He will spend countless hours pouring over some thing: an article, a canvas, an idea, some grueling work, and swear he knocked it out in an hour, or had his company’s best interest in mind, just to earn a little applause. Yes, she keeps company with common folk, and they give her the greatest honor, and eagerly identify with her through their speech, which is, “that truest mirror of the mind,” never mind that they are not outwardly adorned with cap and bells, they foolishly lie, saying one thing and thinking another, something Folly would never do. She cannot be hidden even by those who think themselves wise, strutting around like geniuses, movie stars, or millionaires. The raw fact is they are some of her most ardent followers, even when they are throwing her name around at others as a mark of disgrace and something to be avoided.

Stultitia is fond of imitation; after all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as every fool knows, I mean, as we all know. A whole day can be consumed and privileges gained in this pastime. Call it schmoozing or sucking-up if you like, but how wonderful the perks when a compliment is rightly used in a conversation or golf game, geared to open a door or two. How delightful to win at this game of flattery and imitation. Volumes have been written on how to do or say just the right thing to bring down a kingdom or pick up a girl. From top to bottom it is foolishness, and Folly is the mother of all these blessed children.

And, speaking of children, let’s speak first of marriage and its encumbrances. Would any man in his right mind ever submit to it even once, not to mention two, three, four times, (as they do these days) if he ever listened to all the wiseacres forbidding this unthinkable thing with all of its drawbacks? What woman would ever yield to the advances of any man if she stopped to consider the perils of childbirth, and the labors and trials of raising children? This game, as ridiculous as it is, is the fountain of so many disdainful philosophers and schoolmen, and pious priest, and pope-holy pontiffs, that the continent of Europe can scarcely contain them. It would be such a little thing for Folly to assert her role in the very production of this fortune, but she would rather commend her handmaids Anoia (lack of understanding) and Lethe (forgetfulness) for their small part and service. In any case, how can you characterize this life as sane; can you even call it a life, without this associated pleasure? On the contrary, is there any part of life that is not pure misery if not seasoned with the delight of foolishness?

Call me a liar if you want, but isn’t it true that it is the foolishness of youth that makes it so attractive. Aren’t the goo goo’ing and the cuddliness of babies the things that make these little simpletons so alluring, and we encourage silliness as a way to lighten our own burden? Then there is adolescence, those teenagers; full of grace and energy, and appetite. They crave all-things and are ignorant of nothing and everything, all at the same time; one minute playing the fool, and the next, acting as if they’re Einstein. Where does this youthful charm come from but Folly’s handbag? Then there comes the wilting of the flower, our days passing by like falling stars when true happiness is found in a simple place to rest. Youth gives way to seriousness, and the farther they get from foolishness the less they are alive. Stultitia has some precious stones for these primetime grownups also. Like an Indian summer a second childhood recharges those nearly dead batteries, and brings the want of youthfulness. Red sports cars, hair plugs, and tummy tucks are prized commodities of the upperclassmen; if they could only remember where they put the car keys; and wasn’t loud music really made for the old deaf fools. Now, when we consider this advanced period of ripening, wouldn’t you agree that Folly has been most wise, in causing clip_image007these overgrown nippers to revert to a kind of prepuberty, which is itself identified with a feeble grasp of reality and a meandering mind? Isn’t the primary charm of childhood capsulated in this fact, that it knows nothing? Let a child be a child; a child prodigy is only admired in the company of its parents, never actually; he’s just too smart for his own britches. But, old men and women are loved for their jolliness and feebleness, and not filled with too much wisdom, judgment and advice; but through foolishness, they are made happy. And even so, this phase, toward the end is even better than childhood. Those babes are sweet indeed but they lack the ability to talk, and in that they lack a most enjoyable pastime, gossip, and how that makes life delicious. Old people and infants are so much alike: the wrinkles, gums, whitish hair, a liking of milk, a small bodily frame, forgetful, thoughtless, toothless, loving jokes and tomfoolery; they’re a perfect match.

Now you can understand how those old wise snobs, the scholars, bankers, business owners, and all the wannabes, dry up before their time; devoted to seriousness? They forever worry and beat their brains out trying to untie the Gordian knot, when Alexander’s sword did the trick right nice. As the old saying goes, “A stupid head grows neither gray nor bald.” In this world foolishness is the only way of preserving youth; why else did the Greeks and the Romans have so many gods of pleasure. It is Folly who makes everybody laugh by getting a fool to sing some karaoke, or recite a poem, which the audience would rather hear than a performance at the concert hall, especially when soused on the secretions of madness. We will not mention the foolish things that follow such a feast, when madness has reached its peak; I can hardly keep from laughing. But, I suppose I should put my finger on my lips, lest some tender one be eavesdropping and repeat such things that can’t be spoken-out with impunity, so let’s move on with these two short questions. In this situation, what is there that a man would not give to a woman? And, what compensation would he await in return but, foolishness?

What peace and tranquility comes with perfected folly, and what a treat awaits them at the end of a grueling day, having successfully warded off the assaults of those more foolish than themselves and anyone claiming to know the “truth;” the intolerance of such a thing is repulsive. These intolerant truth fanatics are the arch enemies of Stultitia, and her many defenders deserve to be rewarded with exceptional offerings of madness, and what can this grace be but to drink beer and wine and eat food, and sit stupefied for hours watching television. What better way to end a day in the jungle than to just “tune out” reality, and spend quality time with family. The preciousness of this craziness is testified to by the fact that virtually everyone, 97.5%, partake of this blessing daily, for hours and hours, and most own more than one T.V., and many leave them on all day long. What in the world can excel this madness; a massive troop of fools enlisted for no other reason than to praise Folly, by living out a life of fantastic happiness, laughing or crying on cue. The cheap thrills we receive clip_image009erratically throughout the day cannot be compared to this programed stupidity, on purpose no less; and even this is not to be compared to the banquet of fools served up for our enjoyment by Hollywood in all of its varied formats; good Lord!, this colossal ignorance takes my breath away. We haven’t even gotten to the fanatical worship of the sports channel, or the religious piracy of TBN; these are a couple of Folly’s favorites, but not to be out done by those wonderful soaps in their dishonest depiction of the life we would love to lead.

Well, my beloved friends I have taken much, too much, of your precious time in silliness and foolish talk, and I have to stop for a while. I know I promised to venture into other realms, like putting my finger on those stick-in-the-mud professional churchmen and statesmen; and to show you a blissful alternative and escape hatch, but I have to stop and get my breath; but stay tuned, the end of the thing is near, I promise.

Delusions of Grandeur, the Breakfast of Champions

Stultitia is often found in the pulpit imitating the “divines” who are confident that they have risen to Lordship, Father-hood, Reverendship, or Most Reverendship, or some other self-ingratiating title.

The Christian Fools Paradox; Black Is Black? and White Is Actually White?

An offering of bliss, or an intolerant assault on insanity?

Series NavigationJewels Plucked From the Fist of Folly: Part 2 >>

7 replies on “Jewels Plucked From the Fist of Folly”

I really enjoyed this piece.  Some comic relief is needed during these "times which try men's souls."  This was very well written and I look forward to reading about the "churchmen and statesmen."
Thank you so much, Indy, for sharing this with us.
 
Kathleen

 
“Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last”
Dear Friend,
While traveling in Europe this past summer, my wife and I visited several ruins of churches and early Christian settlements.  Kevin’s Kitchen at Glendalough, Ireland was one that really made an impression on me.   As I walked through the ruins, dating from the 10th to 12th century, the words of a verse I had heard long ago: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last”, rang from deep within my soul. 
Shortly after visiting the ruins I decided to put those words on a picture I had taken.  My thought was that it could act as an impactful reminder to myself and others that the days we have left are but the fleeting second of time given us to draw close to God and to make an impact for Christ on this fallen world. 
The people buried at Glendalough have been long forgotten by all who walk this earth. Their weathered grave stones offer but a faint reminder of lives once lived.  
Not knowing the authorship of those penetrating words: “Only One Life…” I did a search and was pleased to find that they likely came from the pen of C.T.  Studd.  C.T. was a 19th century missionary for Christ to China, India and Africa.  A short search led me to an article by Stephen Ross.  In that biographical article Ross pointed out that C.T. Studd was born in England in 1860, one of three sons of a wealthy businessman.  I also learned that upon his father’s death C.T. gave over 90% of his sizable inheritance to effective ministries of the time, including D.L. Moody, George Müller and others.  In addition to giving the majority of his wealth, he gave the even greater gift of himself through years of missionary work in China, India and Africa.
C.T. Studd believed what he penned and truly lived the life to prove it.
To all who read this letter; please look closely at the grave stones in the picture.  The names and dates on most have been washed away through rain, weather and time.   In a fleeting second compared to eternity your grave stone will look the same as these, and no-one will remember you as they walk through the ruins of a lonely cemetery where your dusty bones lie.  
Please ask yourself the question; where will your eternal soul (now dwelling in your fleshly body) reside when your dusty bones and worn gravestone are all that remain of your long forgotten physical life on this earth?
Another famous quote that you have probably heard, goes like this: “he who dies with the most toys wins”.  Christians who have read the Bible know this isn’t true, as God through His word tells us: “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out”  1 Tim. 6:7.   Some of the Pharaohs of old tried by envaulting themselves with things they thought they would need in the afterlife; but of course this didn’t work. Today, some of the ultra wealthy hope to have their fleshly bodies restarted by having their dead corpses frozen in hopes that it will be resurrected when science breaks the code of life.  That won’t work anymore than the Pharaohs schemes worked.  The only truth about death is found in Hebrews 7:27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”.  The fact is that you can’t live forever in this fleshly body and you can’t take anything with you when you die.  However, the works done for Christ can be sent on ahead and will be waiting for you when you get to Heaven.  A tract left, a person witnessed to, a gesture of kindness or a cup of cold water in Jesus name.  The things that heavenly crowns are made of, can be sent ahead and will be worth the cost a billion times over.  “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Jim Elliot, another great missionary once said: "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Here, he is of course only speaking of the “crowns” referred to in Rev. 4: 10&11.  Jim Elliot knew well and believed Eph. 2:8&9  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” That gift of salvation, is a gift from God, to Jim Elliot, C.T. Studd, you, me and all who believe in the true Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible.  Verse 10 makes clear the real purpose of life in this sin filled decaying world.  “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10  “…for what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”  James 4:14
Let the line below act as an illustration of our time on this earth.  The first… marks the non-beginning of the time line of eternity, the three dots at the end mark the nonend of the line, as the time line for eternity goes on forever.  
…_______________________ _________________________…  
Now imagine the line going out for eternity.  The sun the stars, the galaxies and on and on forever the line goes.  That never ending line represents the time of eternity.  Now look carefully at the portion of the never ending line above.  If your eyes are good enough, about midway you will see a little speck of a space, a break in the line.  This speck represents your fraction of a second of allotted time on this earth.  Time you have been given to either throw away, or read the Bible and act on God’s revelation to you.  It represents the short time we have to reject the sin filled, self-seeking ways of this world and give our life to the one who loves us more than we can imagine.  He wants us to spend eternity in his loving arms, forever protected from Satan and his ways of sin, deception and greed.  To reject Satan and be with Christ in the glory and splendor of Heaven for eternity will be so worth it all.  
Satan on the other hand spends this present time prowling about the earth “…seeking whom he may devour:” 1 Peter 5:8.   In the end-times there will be more and more false christs going about the business of their father, the Devil.   Please accept a short homework assignment and go to 2 Thessalonians 2:10 and find out for yourself exactly who Satan will be able to deceive and who he won’t be able to deceive in the end-times.  Your eternal destiny may depend on how you respond to what you learn there.
Please go back and contemplate on the significance of the first picture or the below picture as it applies to your life.  Also be sure to look up the verse showing who will be deceived, and who won’t be deceived in the end-times when false christs’, false prophets and deception increase dramatically.  Matthew 24:24 says it this way:  “For there shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”  Now, please take the time to find out exactly who will and who will not be deceived in the end-times.  The verse I am asking you to look up is Second Thessalonians 2:10.  It is important that you do this.  I will even give you the first half of the verse. The fourteen words at the end of the verse is all I am asking you to fill in:
 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; _______ ____ ________ ___ ___ ____ __ ___ _____, ___ ____ _____ __ _____.”
With that, here is the promise from God that I will leave you with: And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13   For the security of your eternal soul, please don’t tarry in taking God up on this all important promise.
Tom
 
 
P.S. If you would like to give tracts with “God’s Plan of Salvation for Man” available in most languages of the world, go to http://www.freebibletracts.org and print as many tracts as you can use.  Then go about your Father’s business and share the “Good News” among the nations.  Some, upon hearing this “Good News” will repent and believe.   Then one day, those who you have shared with, and who have accepted God’s precious free gift, will be singing with you: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” 1 Cor. 15:55
P.S. Sorry the pictures didn't come through on the visual editor.  Eventually you will be able to see them at http://www.freebibletracts.org
 
 
 

I re-read C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters every couple of years.  It is like cleaning a very smudgy pair of glasses when it comes to recognizing Folly for who she is in the world and in my life.  I also find it stimulates my appetite for and absorption of scripture.  Great article!  (I'm overdue for a read . . . now, where did I put that book?)

Steve – I see that you have in several places linked The Tribulation Network to your site – excellent – now, we would very much like to do the same with your site to show on our site!  We are more than sympathetic to what you publish on your site – great material.  It is rare that we find such keen agreement; therefore, placing you on our PARTNERS platform would be an honor for us.  May I suggest that you be in contact with Guy Mitts, our webmaster @ guy@the-tribulation-network.com – we are currently redoing our partners list; therefore, hearing from you would be terrific and we'd get the process going ASAP.  God bless you in your efforts to get out the truth, resolute for the faith once delivered!  Doug Krieger

Now, this was a great piece of work and so true! Yes indeed, as noted above, this is food for thought. Thank you for the good read. It's actually edifying.
Blessings,
Denise

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