Plain in the city

A plain Quaker folk singer with a Juris Doctorate in his back pocket, salt in his blood, and a set of currach oars in the closet, Ulleann Pipes under his arm, guitar on his back, Anglo Irish baggage, wandering through New York City ... in constant amaze. Statement of Faithfulness. As a member of the Quaker Bloggers Ad Hoc Committee I affirm that I will be faithful to the Book of Discipline of my Meeting 15th Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Foolish Teacher

Once upon a time there was a teacher who could neither read or write, who lived in a small house on the edge of the desert. Students came to him, and he led them into a questioning of all things that they held were true, so that they might learn to accept the great mystery of existence.

One day he lost his voice. A new batch of students came. At six in the evening, the teacher retired to bed, as was his usual practice, leaving the new students to get settled in. One of them noticed that the house had no flag, so he raised one on the front lawn. Another saw that there were no household Gods, so he placed some statues in the vestibule, another realized that there was not statement of law, so he wrote up a constitution for the little community and place it on the mantle. Another felt there were no heros, so he considered who was the most uncontroversial and wonderful person they would all know and love, and he placed a picture of that person ‘s image on the wall.

The teacher awoke the next day to see what his students had done. some saluting the flag, others wishing it to be replaced by another flag. Some were placing flowers under the picture of the hero, others leaving notes about the harm this hero had done to one group or another. Some were burning incense before the house God, others sprinkling water on the God, each saying that smoke or water offended the God. Others were arguing over the meaning of the laws. So, he gathered all these things together, and the students watched as he dug a deep pit in the desert and tossed all these things into it, and covered it with soil. The disturbed soil would not pack down flat again so there was a mound raised over the trove.

The next morning the teacher found his students assembled before the mound, placing flowers, burning incense, sprinkling water, and arguing. He took up a broom and swept the mound away.

The next morning he found the students had set the broom at the edge of the desert and they were burning incense to it, leaving flowers before it, and arguing over it. So, he broke the broom in half.

The next morning, half his students were wearing small images of a broken broom around their necks, others breaking every broom they could find, others making brooms. He gathered up the broom charms, broken brooms and newly made brooms, and made a fire of them in the desert.

The next day the students were worshiping, venerating, and arguing over fire.

The teacher decided he was the fool, though he worried that humanity would kill itself over its best intention.

Alternative ending supplied by John Maynard 15th Street Meeting SOF. ( also loving self titled, “The John” ) … so he closed the school, and became a sanitation collector, perhaps the most honorable of all professions.


At 12:49 PM, Blogger Larry said...

You've been writing some good stuff, ole buddy, but I've been away. Re the foolish teacher: I think you might like a book by Nels Feree called The Sun and the Umbrella. It's an adaptation of Plato's cave, and it spoke vividly to Ellie and me very early in our life and pilgrimage together.

And then there was also Ernest Weiman's The Source of Human Good: a naturalistic theologian, he divided our commitments into two: the creative event and the created good.

I feel like you're hanging closer to the creative event, Lor, and I praise God for that.

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