What’s in a title?

Fools Mission has always been a ministry of witness, accompaniment, and advocacy. And under the “new normal” of national politics that is anything but normal (and as local as ever), our mission is taking on new meaning for us.

Church history is a helpful guide to understanding what we are doing. The earliest communities of “Jesus followers” walked three distinct paths. Some sought to gain and wield power by becoming bureaucrats within the Roman Empire—hoping to compel others to treat each other more kindly and care for one another. Before three hundred years had passed, the Emperor Constantine had sealed the deal on the assimilation of the movement bearing the name of the common criminal that the Empire had executed for treason. Those following the second stream of the tradition withdrew from society into monastic communities based on meditation and prayer—hoping to pacify and perfect the individual by avoiding contact with those they could not convert face to face.

The precious few swimming in the third stream chose to emulate what Jesus did—to live, work, and play side-by-side with the most vulnerable, marginalized and targeted people of their time. You see, if Jesus had never lived, there still would have been a contemporary of his who held the titles ascribed to him in the Christian scriptures: God; God from God; Son of God; Lord; Redeemer; Savior of the World; Bringer of Peace. Who, you might ask? Caesar Augustus. Don’t take my word for it. These titles were inscribed in marble and on coins throughout the realm, and the cosmic irony of the joke is lost on many. The house churches that Paul founded in cosmopolitan centers surrounding the Mediterranean basin raised a glass to the executed criminal from “Nowheresville” instead of the Emperor, and gave him Caesar’s titles while they were doing it—a countercultural and seditious act.

Fools Mission is moving into an entirely new chapter in response to the climate of depression and fear we are living in. Cornell West famously said that “Justice is what love looks like in public,” and we seek to rise to the challenge. As Jiwon Chung said during our Theatre of the Oppressed workshop in December, “There is no solution that comes from fear.”

Fools Mission will stand in solidarity with children who draw pictures in school of scary people taking their parents away. We will walk with people who struggle with poverty, homelessness, misogyny, injustice, bigotry, and hatred in all its manifestations. We will reflect in community on our own tendencies to fall into these traps ourselves. And love will prevail.