Ship of Fools

JP: An excellent read from Tom Challies

The Companion of Fools


The Bible tells us repeatedly that we will eventually and inevitably begin to resemble the people we spend time with. If we walk with the wise we will become wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm (Proverbs 13:20). Much of the book of Proverbs deals with this very theme, warning the young and foolish to avoid similarly foolish companions. Such proverbs cannot always be taken too woodenly or literally, yet they do point us to an important truth. If you spend time with a person you will begin to resemble that person. Perhaps you will not resemble the person in appearance (unless you are a teenager) but at least in spirit, in thought, in attitude, you will. Experience shows me that this is true. This is one of the great blessings of the local church, that in the church the foolish are able to spend time with the wise, learning how to be like them.

Image source: Ship of Fools

The ship of fools is an allegory that has long been a fixture and reminder in Western literature and art. The allegory depicts a vessel populated by human inhabitants who are deranged, frivolous, or oblivious, passengers aboard a ship without a pilot, and seemingly ignorant of their own direction. This concept makes up the framework of the 15th century book Ship of Fools (1494) by Sebastian Brant, which served as the inspiration for Bosch’s famous painting, Ship of Fools: a ship—an entire fleet at first—sets off from Basel to the paradise of fools. Image: The ship of fools, depicted in a 1549 German woodcut

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