Vias Creativa and Transformativa: Ken Feit on Transcendence

Another contribution from spiritual fool Ken Feit (did you see the YouTube video of his work in our DM on 10/20? Another video is below…) is his teaching about transcendence.  Ken had a genius for re-defining where to look for transcendence.  He taught us not to look ‘up’ as so many of us have been through hierarchical institutions both religious and secular of late.  Rather, look through. 

Ken Feit in Fools for Christ

Ken Feit taught us to look for transcendence through things, to look around and within and among—as Jesus said when he was asked “Where is the Kingdom/Queendom of God?” and he replied: “Do not look here or there but among you.  The reign of God is among you (and within you).”  Ken taught us to look for transcendence through things, to penetrate things, to interpenetrate. 

Ken Feit connected with the Buddhist abbot in a Tibetan monastery, where the two of them stayed up all night discussing the metaphysics and theology of bubbles.  He connected with mime friends in France and Amsterdam, with Islamic Sufis and Native American medicine people.  He chose to study not in upper academia for a Ph.D., but at the feet of tribal story tellers in Africa; and sat for eight hours in a café in Istanbul listening to a storyteller 83 years old spin tales uninterrupted in Turkish.  He reported eating “turkey in Turkey” on Thanksgiving Day. 

Ken Feit in performance as mime. From Fools for Christ, directed and edited by Jim Friedrich, through Cathedral Films.

In short, Ken Feit showed us the way to see through differences and the barriers of ethnic, religious, racial, economic divisions.  What is this way?  This royal way of transcendence and of healing?  It is: Imagination.  Prophetic Imagination. 

When I opened his file cabinet at home the day after his death I read folders marked: “Death,” “War,” “Violence,” “Art for children by adults,” “Stories for children by children,” “Aging,” “Sexuality.” 

“Itinerant Fool” Ken Feit, from John Towsen’s memorial blog post

Ken did what Jesus said: He “loved his enemies”–which are also our enemies—for anything that makes us afraid or unduly guilty is an enemy.  He entered into death, sexuality, war and took us with him by the hand in less threatening ways, that is by leading us in ways of the imagination.  He led us with his wonderful, dancing fingers, with masks, with a simple fan, with a coat of white paint, with his voice, with stories, with ritual.

Ken used his creativity—his vocation as an artist—not for art’s sake but for peoples’ sake and for the sake of healing among peoples.  And he used his creativity for celebration’s sake which is what all peoples need and desire in common whether they know it or not.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, “A Eulogy Re-membering Ken Feit and Other Cosmic Fools” in Bear & Company: the ‘little Magazine,’ Vol. 1, # 5, 1981, pp. 3-5.

See Also: Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest, pp.129, 133-135, 312.

Banner image: “Seeing Through” Photo by Nijwam Swargiary on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

How do you define “Transcendence”?  Where do you look for it?  Has your looking for it evolved over the years?  Does Ken Feit’s way speak to you?  Why?  Why not?

Recommended Reading

Matthew Fox’s stirring autobiography, Confessions, reveals his personal, intellectual, and spiritual journey from altar boy, to Dominican priest, to his eventual break with the Vatican. Five new chapters in this revised and updated edition bring added perspective in light of the author’s continued journey, and his reflections on the current changes taking place in church, society and the environment.

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