[Trigger Warning: Coarse, Erotic Language About God]
I want to propose a vocation for white men: becoming fools. What I mean is: learning how to engage in strange, whimsical, silly embodied behavior that is the opposite of disembodied rationalism, which is the cultural disease our ancestors bequeathed us and everyone else they tried to colonize.
Now when I talk about white men, I have to first of all specify that I’m talking about a specific kind of white man: those of us who use the word “we” presumptuously because we know ourselves to be the protagonists of history.
The empire oppressing our world consists in the collective agency of those who consider ourselves to be the protagonists of history and the generic melting pot of humanity. It’s not exactly the US government; it’s not exactly Wall Street; it’s a collective demonic force that is trying to eat the entire world through the coagulation of millions of personal quests for profit and fame.
When I say “white man,” I’m using short hand for the European-descended titans of industry, conquistadors, and megachurch preachers who have given our world the colonial, marketized shape it has as well as anyone of any gender or race who has assimilated themselves into being a capitalist gear within the global market that is colonizing the world.
I saw a documentary video on the competition between the white men who started the US auto industry. The thesis of the documentary was that the tremendous egos of Henry Ford and his rivals William Durant and Walter Chrysler were a critically important engine of early 20th century capitalism. Their competition and others like it shaped how global capitalists (who were initially almost exclusively white men) understood the purpose of life and how the world is supposed to work.
I agreed with the makers of the video even though their point was to glorify capitalist technology. The engine of capitalist empire is the white male ego. Capitalism is the glory of the white man who stopped being an animal in the Garden of Eden through his quest for the knowledge of good and evil that gave him the authority to reign like God over the world and everyone else in it.
Capitalism is the spider web of sin sprayed everywhere by the phallus of the disembodied rationalist mind (a.k.a. “whiteness”). It is the world narrated as Lucifer’s continual victory over all the losers he tramples on his way to the top where he never gets any rest from the hell of his own ego that always flies with him.
White men and others who emulate us need to be saved from our egos, but our great error is to presume this need to be universal. Much of Western Christian theology is the sadomasochistic intellectual masturbation of philosophical reflection on the self-torture of egotism which ejaculates itself into the feeling of authority. Just because we white men need to “die to ourselves” doesn’t mean that black women need to do so in the same way in order to validate our universalization of the particular gospel white male eyes absorb from Christian scripture.
Authority is the crack cocaine of whiteness and we keep producing it and glorifying it. We cannot be saved if our salvation is a universal, abstract idea we muse about to make ourselves feel authoritative rather than a humiliating and physically painful divine nail that is driven into the particularity of our flesh to crucify us along with Jesus.
It’s the people who think they’re saving the world whom the world needs to be saved from, and I think that’s a reasonably valid generic universal statement to make, even though presuming truth to exist in generic universal statements is precisely what makes “whiteness” toxic. I need to be saved by having my ego crucified along with Jesus. I need to be overthrown so utterly that my ego can’t jizz out any more capitalism.
The best way to be saved from your ego is to become a fool. What does it mean to be a fool? It can have a lot of meanings. Shitting my pants in public three times was an important rite of passage in my journey into foolishness. Swimming in my lake and making up rituals where I speak in tongues to the trees is an important part of my foolishness. Dancing in the rain helps me to be more foolish. Listening to the gangsta rap that got me through middle school makes me foolish.
Being a fool describes a particular posture for engaging with life in which my rational mind doesn’t sabotage my embodied experience of the real. As long as I am trying to make everything in my life “make sense,” i.e. convert every experience into a performance of monetizable or at least practical content, I remain an enslaved gear of colonization.
I become real the more I live through idiosyncratic moments that cannot go viral because they’re too bizarre and/or embarrassing; idiosyncrasy is what grounds me in authentically particular embodied experience which rescues me from thinking that the global stage (whose spotlight I covet) is the only “real world” there is. Life cannot be real in globalized abstraction where my identity is curated for anonymous consumption rather than forged messily in embodied community with all its pungency.
When white men follow the basic trajectory of Immanuel Kant and favor abstract universals over concrete particulars, our decisions become a market that devastates billions around the world as we reduce existence to a set of numbers on a screen that we are trying to manipulate into an upward growth curve. What our beloved capitalism constantly does is to convert the beauty of the world into the crude math of profit. That is the fruit of idolizing abstract universal concepts and “globalizing” the world: the Dow Jones industrial average becomes God and billionaires become the only relevant actors in the world that matters.
Foolishness is the repudiation of globalized, generic, abstract existence. It is an irreplicably idiosyncratic life that is fully intrinsic in the way that generic, capitalist life is fully extrinsic. Foolishness is living in a house with dated wallpaper and warped floorboards instead of embodying the simulacrum of HGTV and going all in on the generic existence the market offers everyone.
In the realm of theology, foolishness involves making ridiculous claims about God that laugh at their own ridiculousness because they are derived in ecstatic states of consciousness in which the mind is stupefied ridiculously. I am especially foolish when I consume something that alters my consciousness in such a way that would make any ideas derived in that state completely without authority.
Divine foolishness is thus the opposite of making authoritative claims about God that are “sober,” self-important, and infallible. Foolishness is the opposite of authority, the idol white men chase after more than any other, being ourselves the Luciferian architects of the Tower of the Babel that offers the one right path to heaven.
The apostle Paul loved divine foolishness. He “boasted” in his divine “foolishness” more than anything (just look at how often he paired those two words). Maybe he smoked weed or ate mushrooms. Maybe he didn’t need to do so because Jesus’ blinding encounter when he was at the zenith of his legalistic heresy hunting wrecked him enough that he could taste ecstatic truth without any mind-altering substances.
Paul reached the “third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2), or as today’s plant medicine hippies would say, “the 5D,” not because of his deductive reason, but because of his ecstatic experience of the “breadth and length and height and width of God’s love” (Ephesians 3:18).
Paul wants us to experience the orgasmic euphoria of the “third heaven.” It’s not different than the orgasm you have when you’re fucking; it’s like having those two seconds of erotic intensity expand into a lifelong experience of ecstatic surrender and ego dissolution inside of God.
The physical feeling we have at the climax of sex is not physiologically different than the physical feeling of divine intimacy, but the latter is a continuously expanding state of being that gets better and better every day. The primary reason Paul suggests abstaining from human sex is because it allows your erotic energy to be channeled into connecting with God (he almost says this outright in 1 Corinthians 7). Whether or not Paul is right about abstinence from physical sex, erotic divine union is absolutely incredible.
Paul never wanted us to fall in love with arguing about God (1 Corinthians 1:12) like the white Christian Bible teachers who idolize Paul love to do; Paul wanted us to taste God’s orgasmic love and babble like fools about it, which is what he considered himself to be doing. “I am talking like a madman,” he says in utter ecstasy in 2 Corinthians 11:23.
The “wise men of the age” (1 Corinthians 1:20) whom Paul destroyed in his first century rap battles were exactly like the people today who use Paul’s words to build rationalistic pyramids where they can worship their own egos. Paul loved being a fool; there is not a more blasphemous use of Paul’s words than to build one’s own authority through them. You have to be a fool to understand Paul, which is to say you have to be someone who lets God fuck you in the ass.
I mean that phrase in all of its excruciating vulgarity and taboo, especially because of the specific way that crudely articulated gay sex horrifies white Christian men. A fool is someone who embodies the scandal of being fucked in the ass by God: utterly penetrated, utterly emasculated, utterly vulnerable, utterly self-emptied, utterly crucified, utterly reborn.
The gospel needs to be completely horrifyingly queer to be the fully outrageous, absurdly beautiful, liberating scandal that made Paul write with moronic hysteria to the churches he planted. I have experienced the salvation of Christ in my body through the humiliating surrender of opening my legs to receive God’s holy phallus in my ass. (Yes, I’m speaking metaphorically in a way that seems gratuitously irreverent and uncharitably triggering for white male Christian readers, but it’s entirely purposeful foolishness and I think Paul himself is making me do it).
My divine penetration has happened in a very acute, visceral way. Because of the ulcerative colitis that is my personal cross, I shit my pants in public three times in the last year. Once I was on my way to meet a psychotherapy client for the first time. Once I was on the phone with a psychotherapy client. Once I was walking through a 7-11 where I spilled it on the floor.
For most of my time with ulcerative colitis, I spent so much energy clenching my sphincter muscles to keep from shitting my pants. I spent hundreds of hours on public toilets trying to empty myself so it wouldn’t happen. But I discovered that the world doesn’t end when the one thing happens that absolutely cannot happen under any circumstances. Having my own warm, liquid shit dripping down my legs makes me fully animal again by destroying the delusion that I exist as a neat and tidy rational mind with a body that can be mostly ignored and hidden.
As I lose the dignified self-importance that held me prisoner for most of my life, I can feel the sphincter of my asshole releasing itself completely to let Christ invade me entirely so it is “no longer I who live but Christ who lives within me” (Galatians 2:20).
I’m no longer afraid to strip naked and bend over in front of God or anyone else, though I can refrain from doing so for the sake of other people’s boundaries. The foolishness I’m speaking of does not mean irresponsibly shitting on other people; it is instead the art of whimsical but deliberate ego death play that always acts according to the interests of subtle hospitality towards others.
I am a fool when I let my youngest son think he’s smarter than me because I want him to feel so secure and safe that he doesn’t need to prove himself for nearly as many years as I tried. I am a fool when I embrace naïveté in conversations with others for the sake of their empowerment. I am a fool when I empty myself and carry my cross without shame or resentment.
Foolishness involves pushing my mind and ego aside to let God speak to and through me directly. Sometimes, that literally means speaking in tongues by letting the Holy Spirit physically move my mouth around. As one of my new favorite saints Hildegard would put it, foolishness is being “a feather on the breath of God.”
I really think that foolishness is the hidden jewel of Christian mysticism. Foolishness is the spirituality that expects to shit itself but always pivots into playfulness instead of hypervigilance or shame. It is the gift the Christian tradition brings to the heavenly banquet to put next to Buddhism’s “awakeness” and Judaism’s “rest.”
It was amidst my foolishness on a shamanic retreat a year ago that God said he wanted to teach me how to have buddhahood and shabbat at the same time. He told me that being a child at play is living in the state of full awakeness and full rest that is perfect delight. Every day I grow older, the more of a fool I stumble into being.
* Note: I have been deeply influenced by the ideas of Tada Hozumi and Dare Sohei in developing the thoughts above, which doesn’t mean they should be taken as representative of or even in the same league with anything Tada and Dare have been writing.