Across the world
millions of people play the lottery every day.
I have often wondered why this is, since the chance of winning the
lottery are about the same whether you play or not. So why do we play? The easy answer is that we dream of a better
life and it’s a cheap ticket, indeed what I often call “cheap hope”.
What I have come
to understand is that playing the lottery is wise fool’s errand. With that playing our imagination soars. Contrary to what many people think, those who
play the lottery don’t just have their own welfare in mind. How many times have I heard that the first
thing someone would do if they won the lottery would be to help their
church? Hundreds of time. In fact a recent Gallup poll showed that
people would continue to work at their jobs, support their family and support
community charities. Is that so
foolish? I have nothing against playing
the lottery. In fact, I play it all the
time - my kid’s birthdays - hoping for a little bit of return on the incredible
investment each of them represents in my time and the rest of my working
career. I have actually won a few times
but after you subtract what I had to play to win, I think I am only in the hole
for about $500 over the last ten years. Still
I play the fool.
Fools are not
stupid. Historically a fool was someone
who defied convention (even made a career at it) in order to show the hidden
wisdom beneath conventionality. In San Francisco
one of our most important ministries is the Wise Fools, who dress in costumes
and make fun of serious people on the street, pointing out the pomposity of
business men and the reality of homelessness.
They come to brighten the day of those for whom the street is their
home. Foolishness is more akin to
abandon. More akin to the power to move
beyond fear of embarrassment and embrace the possibilities of change whether it
be on the street or in your church.
We have been
celebrating the life of Pete Seeger these past few weeks. There was a holy fool if ever one walked the
earth. He stood up to Joe McCarthy and
sang songs against convention. Pete kept
to his principles and his fool’s errand singing for kids before he would bend
foolishness is the currency of a hero’s quest.
A way to win the lottery of a better life for those we love and those in
With Grace and