The Holy Fool of ABC’s The Middle (or: What Would Sue Heck Do?)

not sure if you watch
ABC’s?The Middle;
if not, you might consider it

it’s just a family sitcom,
but a pretty good one,
especially if you
watch with your kids,
which is how we do it
and how it’s intended, i’d say

it’s in its 9th (and final) season,
so i’ve been thinking
a bit about it,
especially about how
there’s something
particularly significant
about the character of
Sue Heck

over the years,
Sue became my
hands-down fave on the show;
compared to the
frazzled downtroddenness
of Frankie,
or the
practical indifference
of Mike,
or the
charmed nonchalance
of Axl,
or the
odd aloofness
of Brick,
there’s something
about Sue

a true believer
when it comes to life

where others frown,
she smiles;
where they dismay,
she hopes;
where they doubt,
she trusts;
where they lay fallen,
she gets back up

i mean, seriously:

of course,
this type of
character is oft made
the butt of the joke
by other characters,
and this holds
true for Sue, too

“that Sue,”
we laugh with them,
“always failing,
but never giving up –
she’ll just never get it!

what a fool!”

but that’s just it:
she’s?not a fool;
she’s so much?not a fool
that, truly understood,
the other characters –
characters not like her,
people?not like her –
perhaps need to
consider for themselves
where that moniker might
truly fit best

Sue Heck is,
actually, truly, what’s called
a?holy fool:
in the words of a
Russian hymn,
someone whose
“imaginary insanity
[reveals] the insanity of the world”

( i want to say?so much more
about holy fools rn –
about Jesus Christ himself,
about Paul (who called himself
“a fool for Christ”),
about the Hebrew prophets,
about the myriad incarnations
of holy fools in art
(Don Quixote, Prince Myshkin,
Solaire of Astora from?Dark Souls)?
but time is short;
if you’re interested, Google a bit;
also, check out this great piece:
“The Holy Fool” by theburkean?)

in other words,
though her
perpetual smile
seems foolish,
it really only
shows us to be foolish
for smiling less

though her
unstoppable optimism
seems foolish,
it actually shines light
on our too-easy
doubting and despairing

though we want to say
“just stay down,
just give up,”
the fact that
Sue doesn’t
only makes us the fools
for saying so
in the first place

in biblical language,
we might say
Sue’s foolishness
exemplifies love,
for surely she
“bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things;”
and, surely,
living like this can seem
pretty silly,
pretty out of place –
pretty foolish
in the warp and woof
of the day to day
of this world

but, we’re saying:
that doesn’t mean
that it actually is?

in fact,
we’re saying:
it may be
actually the opposite

doesn’t this all
seem to fall
pretty well in line
with the God who
goes down a “failure,”
the God who dies “like a fool,”
scoffers and mockers afoot,
but then gets back up
and comes back to life –
because of love –
despite the “insanity,”
despite the ridiculousness,
despite the foolishness?
of the story?



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