THE American Crow Indians would sometimes indulge in what they called “crazy dog’’ activities to rescue their lives from spiritual ruts.
The whole tribe would purposefully eat dinner for breakfast, wear their clothes inside-out or bash pots and pans all night.
Being a crazy dog meant being willing to be seen as foolish, weak or strange – for the sake of others and for their own sense of well-being.
There’s a profound meaning to all this. Sometimes we can only see truth by turning our world upside down. To follow God is to be open to the preposterous; to run against the ways of our world and look foolish while dancing, at least sometimes, to the music of Heaven.
Writer Cynthia Heimel advised: “When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.’’
Life is a paradox and some of the greatest truths are revealed to those who believe the seemingly foolish notions that the first are last, the greatest are the least, the strong are the weak, and the meek win it all in the end.
Mike Yaconelli, in his book Messy Spirituality, points to the crazy dogs of the Bible. There’s Noah who, against the backdrop of ridicule, builds a huge boat in the middle of the desert because God tells him it will rain.
And when the water recedes what does Noah do? He gets naked and drunk.
King David slays a giant and conquers Jerusalem. At his victory procession he dances in his underwear before his army, his people and his wife, so offending her sense of royal decency that she vows never to be seen with him in public again.
And there’s John the Baptist who eats locusts and honey, dresses like a wild animal and rails against the authorities with such vigour that they eventually remove his head.
Jesus hung out with fools, prostitutes, tax collectors, adulterers, riffraff and non-religious people of all kinds. What landed him on the cross was a holy absurdity _ that common. ordinary, broken, screwed-up people could be godly and that Heaven wasn’t just for the pure, the talented, the good, the humble and the honest.
That prompted the poet Rainer Rilke to ask: “Who is this Christ, who interferes in everything?’’
God, it seems, loves messy people. His light shines brighter in messy stables, small faithful gatherings and the dusty, ambiguous gutters of life than it does in the cathedrals.
Writer Raymond Brown said that God “writes straight with crooked lines’’.