I remember the first time I called my sister a Fish Eyed Fool.
To my great surprise, our mother was beside herself, saying she couldn’t believe I would say such a thing to my sister, quickly referring my sinfulness to a scripture in the new testament where Jesus makes it very clear that I was in danger of hell fire for saying such a thing about another human being.
What Jesus couldn’t have known way back then was the context in which I would say such a thing to my sister as calling her a fish eyed fool, nor could my mother have acted as interpreter of Jesus or myself – having no biblical translation skill except for the lack of skill she might have derived under the ignorant teachings of her pastor, Reverend Keith.
Side bar: I will get to Mr. Keith and his effect on our family, so many other lives soon enough, but for now let us press on toward the meaning of FOOL and why Jesus thought it necessary to teach about it in his sermon on the mount.
As modern society has attempted and failed so many times in regards to the true meaning and worthy interpretation of the words of the Lord, my take is just as good as any. But beyond mere take, there is CONTEXT, and context shows intent which is everything.
So in my case, the context of uttering the words “fish eyed fool” was merely television comedy I had picked up after watching several episodes of Sanford and Son, wherein Fred’s sister-in-law Esther, out of sheer frustration with the wit coming at her from the beloved Redd Fox, she would in turn deliver the zinger line calling Fred a fish eyed fool while audiences at home laughed at the thought her saying such a thing how she said it; all punctuated by the studios canned laughter. So that was my context for the use of FOOL.
The definition of fool, like I imagine the writers intended when they coined the dialog for the Sanford and Son, was in no way similar to the definition gathered when we translate (properly) the verses BELOW in Matthew.
So we find in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said (Matthew 5:21-22) “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, thou shalt not kill; and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgement; but I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement; and whosoever shall say to his brother Raca, shall be in danger of the council; but whosoever shall say THOU FOOL, shall be in danger of hell fire.”
So Jesus, if he were alive and present today, would have laughed at the humor and intent of my folly and wit and might have said many things to that little boy, but he wouldn’t have misinterpupted his own verse.
To be fair, like I said earlier, my mother was most likely repeating what she had heard from the pulpit, as the misunderstandings delivered at such post are plenty, especially from I can recall from the church we attended and the pastor roosting there so many years. I can hardly find one memory of right and truthful teaching rendered there, only fear and hateful deliberations from men who I imagine would not know the Lord if they met him at Wal Mart on Archer Road, much less that he might well be sitting in the congregation, confused at such hate and fear being delivered.
To properly define the phrase THOU FOOL as Jesus intended is an exploration in human decency that is long overdue. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that anyone who says of another human being they are worthless, or of no value, that they are in danger of hell fire. I find it interesting on so many levels as I survey my feelings of worthlessness, wondering where in the world I might have learned such crap; and how my life has been such a struggle it seems due to these false beliefs, as I have nearly worn myself out trying to surmise my own worth, while trying to forget the words in my head told to me by the men and women of God, who from the looks of it are not at all a representation of anything godly that I can see.
So how do I reconcile these books? How do any of us reconcile our own versions of these misinterpretations? Not only of the books that comprise the Bible, where I discover truer truths as I study how it has been used for ill by those who cannot interpret its love, mostly because of their own hate; but these teachings that are part of my mental framework stressed under the weight of my new knowing.
I would that the entirety of my life and mind collapse under the duress of the new knowing, than to think ever again about the lies told to me by those who by what they have preached as the truth of Christ have called me thou fool.
I am no fool, nor is there any fool, not even the ones who lie and say fool, not even they are fools as Jesus wanted it told and made clear in his sermon.
Everyone and every living thing has value Jesus told. With this new thought, one might have to ask a man like my father – who reports to be a Christian and safe from the fires of hell – how he could possibly think a person of color to be less than himself? And how in a time when the damage of racial profiling has never been clearer, could he still be a racist, and count himself safe from the fires of hell he would have me, his queer son, be saved from?
My father, however foolish you might conclude him to be for his refusal to be well and think the Christlike thoughts his faith has never really measured up to, he is no fool. I know this because his purpose, although many might not agree, has in part been to push against me so hard with his lack of evolution that I might become a very indifferent to the animal ways of meanness and evolve like no other son could under the circumstances. In the strangest way he has acted like the devil sacrificing his connection with God that is within himself so that I could find my way, and for that one would have to wait around until the last breath he took hoping for him to find peace that he has held by the lack of peace for my findings.
Love has pulled a coo when it uses hate to build a rather healthy distain for hate, and I am the galvanized living proof and my love of men (and women) will never rust or decay because of both the good and the bad that shaped me.
And neither will my father loose his place, because if he were forced to admit the truth – like the day I threatened to throw his truck keys into Lake Alto when we were fishing because he threw trash in the water with such disregard – he would admit at least to maintain our relationship, which is the odd brand of love that we have somehow manage to create. He is a son of man who has hated, like a scared cat in the corner, yet he has raised up a man that loves him like no other could understand, and that is his pass.