"Is it possible for us to defossilize St. Paul's call for each of us to become a fool for Christ's sake?" asks spiritual writer Edward Hays. The answer is a resounding yes! Holy Fools and Mad Hatters: A Handbook for Hobbyhorse Holiness is designed for all those who want to cultivate their inner clown.

Time, practice, and patience are needed to walk the Christian Way which is, according to Hays, "narrow as a razor's edge." Those who follow Jesus are bound to be eccentric. He stood outside the conventions of his day and demonstrated a defiant belief in God's presence here and now.

Hays writes: "In some way every disciple is ordained to servanthood and foolhood, ordained to be a jester to the world." How does this play itself out? It begins with a daily consciousness of death. In ancient times it was customary for monks and other religious to keep a human skull on their desks. Becoming a Holy Fool continues by acknowledging our indebtedness to others and by living mindfully.

Our spiritual lives are enriched when we "fertilize our faith." Hays suggests risk-taking, loving those whom we take for granted, practicing meaningful rituals, and keeping hope alive. He also proposes that instead of being immobilized by fear, we learn how to play around with our troubles. This Mad Hatter procedure exercises our creativity and imagination.Holy Fools are challenged to reap the harvest of solitude so they can forge their conscience in everyday life. Instead of looking for magic, become a miracle worker. Realize that humor is at the heart of a zestful response to life.

This handbook is cleverly designed and filled with whimsical stories and practical exercises. In the spirit of St. Francis, Edward Hays comes across as a spiritual jester with serious things to say in a playfully meditative way.