by Kim Fabricius and Ben Myers
Kim and I were talking the other day about W. H. Auden’s Academic Graffiti (1972), a delightfully funny series of clerihews (four-line biographical poems). So we decided to come up with our own Theological Graffiti, a sequence of clerihews on modern theologians. Here they are: forty theologians, in alphabetical order.
Had to hire a cart
Having no other tactics
To transport his dogmatics.
Lives in beau monde,
Which explains the fantastical hunky-dory
From Tegel, in fetters,
Wrote the Lord letters.
Never tired easily,
But felt a tad weary
After translating a whole German library.
One day began
To study the Gospel of John; and found, to his satisfaction,
That pretty much every word was redaction.
Doesn’t care for logomachy,
But waits silently (you can hear it)
For the Spirit.
Bid farewell to all stupid
Believers; then with a bow and a nod
He took leave of God.
Didn’t write gaily
About her bother:
Replied with a sigh
To the liberal lot:
“You’ve lost the plot.”
Had a stratagem
To define the role of women; but neglected to mention
Whether men, too, are allowed in the kitchen.
In St Augustine, his nemesis,
Who didn’t have quite enough perichoresis.
David B. Hart
Is not terribly fond of Bultmann, Bonhoeffer, Tillich or Barth,
Crucially not to mention
Balthasar, Jüngel, Lash, Moltmann, MacKinnon …
Stan the Man
Is more peaceful than
A quiet Christmas night.
But he loves a fuckin’ fight.
Lively and fun,
Is known to enjoy a good Barthian feud
And to talk about God as Hegelian fugue.
Is king of the jungle
On the being and becoming of God –
Und sein Tod.
When he was young,
Rose to the top. Almost.
Now he is toast.
Packs polemical panache:
To the atheist, a bloody pain;
Also to the ultramontane.
C. S. Lewis
Must have smoked cannabis
With Narnia creatures to write the banality
Of Mere Christianity.
Lectured on and on;
His critical realism might have seemed boring
To anyone present who was not yet snoring.
Wise as an asp, pure as a babe.
But he had one fortunate fault:
As big as a lumberjack:
Felling, with ease,
A whole forest of big metaphysical trees.
“His sanity’s thinning,”
Some said. But whom God saves, he first drives mad:
And makes sad.
Was awfully sorry
When people lost interest
In all of that blather ’bout human existence.
Some think a crank,
Others well worth citing –
Those who can read his writing.
Bid au revoir
To his Princetonian foe, apropos
Of ho logos asarkos.
The world,” we ask, “live without hope?”
Bowing to Thor, argued just war
Against Yoder, who, in a different class,
Kicked his ass.
Who studied in Heidelberg,
Is quite a stickler
For all things empirical, scientific, geschichtliche.
The top banana,
Wrote hundreds of essays with never a failure:
Cocktails of theologoumena and transcendentalia.
Cries, with the church in a mess,
“Deus caritas est!”
An ecofeminist Luther,
Rails against a male Messiah,
Made some mistakes:
He said, “The church has a human face!” –
Then went home to pack his suitcase.
Is so very long
That it’s hard for him to kneel.
But then to whom to appeal?
His heart soft as marshmallow,
Fought with each breath
Against powers and death.
Had an incurable itch
For God and being and demons and dirt
A triune alliance:
God, Karl and science.
Malheureuse, très outrée,
And so severe it hurt:
The Categorical Imperative in a skirt.
Like Santa, he’s weird:
Maybe it’s the beard.
Bishop Tom Wright
Stays up all night
Writing and writing (and writing) books about the apostle to the nations.
And a resignation.
John Howard Yoder
Grew sick from the odour
Of Christendom, with its violent caprice
A final note: we tried to talk Oliver Crisp into doing some sketches to go with the post. Alas, he's too busy running a department – so here's one last clerihew to cheer him up:
Decided to follow a
Clean analytical method. But something still seemed left unsaid
So he took up his paintbrush instead.