Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Don't Suffer Fools Gladly

foolToday I have been reading in "Hear and Be Wise: Becoming a Preacher and Teacher of Wisdom" by Alyce M. McKenzie.

It was recommended by Wes Taylor a friend who preaches in an area UMC, is highly involved in community social affairs and teaches preaching in the M.Div. program at Marylhurst University near here.

She says that one of the responsibilities of the preacher is to serve in his/her function of sage. That role of sage has three parts: Preservation of Shalom, Fool Management and Character Building.

I was intrigued with the part of the pastors role which she labeled "Fool Management." She says, "'I thought briefly about becoming a pastor,' confided a friend of mine. 'But then I realized that I don't suffer fools gladly enough.' Part of the role of [the pastor] is to protect the community from the fools in its midst. Fools represent, to varying degrees, chaos in the community that is counter to the moral order created by God."

She states that there are eight different Hebrew words for fools used in the Hear and Be Wise book of Proverbs, (she references James Crenshaw, Old Testament Wisdom: An Introduction). She, however, only highlights three.

The pethi (simple fool-the shallow, gullible person who believes anything and everything--Proverbs 14:15). "He lacks the wisdom to stabilize his life and is therefore susceptible to evil companions.

The lutz (scorning fool-the know-it-all; the unteachable type of person-Proverbs 9:7; 13:1) "The word is often translated 'scoffer' or 'scorner.' The lutz is haughty (21:24) and delights in mocking others, especially wisdom teachers (1:22). He delights in folly (1:22) and will not listen to wisdom (13:1; 15:12). His supercilious arrogance (21:24) sets the whole community on edge (22:10; 29:8).... Heraclitus, a philosopher of the fifth century B.C.E. once said, with reference to his opponents, that the opposite of wisdom is not stupidity, but knowing it all. The lutz know it all and has nothing to learn from God or other people."

The nabal (steadfast fool-a churlish, brutal person who cannot control his anger and who enjoys the misery of others). This is the fool who in Proverbs. 14:1 "says in his heart that there is no God." Sensible words are out of place in his mouth (Proverbs 17:7) and he is a source of grief to his parents (Proverbs 17:21).

As McKenzie says, "In our teaching and preaching, it is important to acknowledge our own tendencies toward folly and the chaos that it brings, but also to celebrate the progress we have made on the path of wisdom."

While I have not seen Crenshaw's book, a website of the Advanced Training Institute International adds a couple more:

The kes-eel (Sensual Fool-who rejects the correction of parents or other authorities and seems almost determined to make wrong choices) His (or her) focus is on that which brings him/her immediate gratification or pleasure. (Proverbs 10:23; 13:19–20; 18:6-7). The book of Proverbs gives more warnings to/about this type of fool than that of any other. (Proverbs 13:30; 26:3; 19:21)

The ev-eel (Silly Fool-perverse or silly;when things go wrong for the silly fool, he becomes angry, resulting in more damage.) I don't know that I can clearly differentiate between this type of fool and the lutz. This fool believes that his own way of thinking is right (Proverbs.12:15; 1:7; 10:21; 29:9; 7:22).

I am just getting into the book, but I have high expectations for it. The preacher's role as sage is one that is unfamiliar to me. And if the rest of it is as intriguing as that of "Fool Management," I know I am going to enjoy it.

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