Matt D’Antuono is a physics teacher in New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and seven children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in physics and philosophy, a master’s degree in special education, and is working on a master’s degree in philosophy at Holy Apostles in Cromwell, Connecticut. He returned to the Catholic Church in 2008. He is the author of A Fool’s Errand: A Brief, Informal Introduction to Philosophy for Young Catholics, The Wiseguy and the Fool and Philosophy Fridays. On YouTube you can find him at DonecRequiescat and his family at MisterD418.
“Do not be so open-minded that your brains fall out.” —G.K. Chesterton
“Welcome to the open-mindedness club. Let’s introduce ourselves. My name is open-minded Omar.”
“My name is relativity Ralph, and I am somewhere else.”
“My name is subjective Sam, and I am not a human.”
Omar chimes in, “And I see we have a newcomer tonight. Why don’t you tell us your name?”
“Um. Hi. My name is Chris. My friends think I am too closed-minded, and they heard about this group. So, they suggested I come here.”
Omar takes the lead again. “Welcome. The format of this meeting is that we listen to what everyone has to say and practice being open-minded. So, let us open our minds.” Omar, Ralph, and Sam grab the tops of their heads and lift up to expose their empty skulls. Chris also removes the top of his head, but his brain is still taking up that precious space. “Who would like to begin?” Ralph and Sam both raise their hands. “Ralph, why don’t you start us off.” Ralph waits and looks at Sam. “Ralph, you can begin,” repeats Omar.
Ralph, as if waking up, says, “I was waiting for Sam to begin.”
“But I called on you,” rejoins Omar.
“That might be true for you, but for me it’s true that you called on Sam,” returns Ralph.
“Very clever! How interesting. Can’t be closed-minded about that. He heard what he heard, and there can be no denying it,” come the compliments from both Omar and Sam.
Chris sheepishly interposes, “But, Omar clearly called on Ralph. What are you guys talking about?”
Omar answers, “No need to be so judgmental! You are not being very open-minded.” Chris looks puzzled, sits back in his chair, and folds his arms; classic closed-minded body language. “What would you like to share today, Ralph?”
“Well, I would like to say that I have invented a new religion.”
“Fantastic! We love new religions!”
“Yes, yes,” says Ralph, holding his hand up to calm the crowd. “In this religion I worship my big toe.”
“Splendid! You’ve really done it now.”
“I have decided that I don’t have a big toe.”
“Why?” says Chris loudly, putting a damper on the excited mood in the room.
“Because I want to,” replies Ralph. “Do you have any idea how important the big toe is? If we didn’t have a big toe, we wouldn’t be able to balance, and we’d be falling over all the time.”
“That’s what he thinks! How progressive and creative,” cheer Omar and Sam.
“Yes, and in this religion I paint my big toe nails every week and I wrap my big toes in gauze every night before bed so they are snug.”
Chris sits now in a state of semi-astonishment, and it is obvious to the other members. Sam brings his big hand down on Chris’s back with a thud and says, “Don’t look so surprised. This is good for you. It is healthy and freeing to be more open-minded.” However, Chris barely hears a word of Sam’s little pep-talk. Sam is a large, strong man, and the pat on the back that is meant to encourage poor Chris knocks the brain out of his head. As Sam is talking, Chris is just getting used to a very new and different feeling.
Omar continues, “Who else would like to share.” Chris enthusiastically raises his hand. Happy to see the newcomer willing to talk, Omar calls on Chris.
“My name is craniotomy Chris, and I will never make another judgment again.” A blissful smile spreads across Chris’s face as the words fall from his mouth.
“Now we are getting somewhere! That’s real progress. Tell it the way you want it to be,” call out the rest of the group.
This story is an excerpt from The Wiseguy and the Fool, by Matt D’Antuono.