Tuesday 1 June 2010

More theological graffiti

by Kim Fabricius and Ben Myers

Here's a sequel to our recent batch of theological graffiti. This brings it to a total of 75 modern theologians. Phew, I think we need a break (for goodness sake!) from rhyming.

Marilyn McCord Adams:
Her book about Ockham
Was simply stupendous;
Her next book, horrendous.

Ray S. Anderson,
Scholarly parson,
Sent me letters and books from LA.
When he died, I was silent all day.

Hans Urs von Balthasar
Really raised the bar,
From descensus, to drama, to logic – higher and higher –
With a leg-up from Adrienne von Speyr.

G. C. Berkouwer
Spent many an hour
With Calvin; but even more, I think,
With Bavinck.

Leonardo Boff
Attacked capitalist toffs
And proposed the preferential option.
“Denied!” cried the pope, as a Marxist concoction.

Emil Brunner
Would sooner
Die than admit his celebrity status was just part and parcel
Of receiving a Nein postmarked Basel.

George Carey,
Rowan’s snide sniper of an adversary –
Oops! – a mistake:
A theologian? Give me a break!

D. A. Carson,
The evangelical’s evangelical bar none,
Is unflagging in nagging and nagging
About God’s postmodernist gagging.

James Cone
Rose from the valley of dry, black bones
To become a theology professor –
And blaspheme the God of the oppressor.

Peter Enns
Was told by his friends
At Westminster: “It’s not personal, Pete, we love you and all –
Just put on this blindfold and stand by the wall.”

Billy Graham
Was a bit of a ham,
And on hellfire and empire he went way awry.
But he was such a nice guy.

Adolf von Harnack
Rather liked the fact
That all of Europe revered him. Except for one impudent

John Hick
Is a bit of a ...
Hmm, this one time
I can’t think of a rhyme.

George Hunsinger
Ordered a burger.
The girl at the counter replied:
“Would you like any Frei?”

Nate Kerr
Has caused quite a stir
With his book on apocalyptic.
Tim LaHaye, however, is apopleptic.

George Lindbeck,
Seeing doctrine all in a wreck,
Rebuilt, not wielding a Nietzschean hammer,
But a Wittgensteinian grammar.

Alister McGrath
Writes so very fast,
Making colleagues look word-shy and shiftless,
With his output so prodigious it’s ridiculous.

Brian McLaren,
Not to be mistaken for Rick Warren,
Is thankfully not purpose-driven,
But likewise, theologically, needs to be generously forgiven.

Jean-Luc Marion
Phenomenally continues to carry on
Semester after semester after semester
About Dieu sans l’être.

Thomas Merton
Peacefully put a healing hurt on
The church and the world as sociopaths.
Then he took a bath.

Bishop Lesslie Newbigin,
His likes unlikely soon to be seen again,
Could say in perfect Tamil,
“The postmodern West has the grace of a camel.”

Rudolf Otto
Got perfectly blotto
And saw – how delightful, how luminous! –
That the whole world is smiling and numinous.

Jaroslav Pelikan
Opened a can
Of Worms when he divorced Luther
And moved in with Byzantine (who was older, but cuter).

Clark Pinnock
Had his third glass of arrack,
Then made his friends a bet:
He’d dream up a doctrine even God doesn’t know yet.

John Polkinghorne
Dawkins wishes had never been born.
“Science too takes tacit faith,” the physicist bookishly barks.
“Or don’t you believe in quarks?”

James K. A. Smith –
Is he giving or taking the pith
With his je ne sais quoi
Of Calvin and Milbank and Jacques Derrida?

Dorothy Sölle:
Prophetic, poetic, mystical, holy.
McFague and Moltmann: Frau Wow.
Gollwitzer and Barth: Frau Cow.

George Steiner,
Not exactly a whiner:
But occasionally given to dark ruminations
On how paperback printing destroyed civilisation.

John Stott
Writes a helluva lot
As the pope of the world’s evangelicals,
But his Shine-Jesus-shine’s not electrical.

Kathryn Tanner
Shouted, “Hosanna!”,
Prayed the Agnus Dei,
Then wrote Christ the Key.

Ernst Troeltsch
Happened to belch.
He said, “Pardon me, sirs, this whole situation
Has a sociologically sound explanation.”

Kevin Vanhoozer
Went with some friends to a boozer
In Boston.
He promised to say not a word about Austin.

Miroslav Volf
Played a round of golf.
His game that day was frankly rotten:
He lost count of his strokes, even God had forgotten.

Will Willimon
Recants and moves on
From a book he once did with Stanley.
He would leave Wesley too, were he manly.


byron smith said...

Thanks again guys!

I thought Volf was the highlight as the punchline came as a genuine surprise and made me laugh out loud.

Halden said...

I hate to open this door, but now I think the only thing left for you to do is to do one of these on the theological blogs/bloggers.

Unknown said...

Gosh, guys. I'm really grateful. Thanks.

And to have my name thrown in with the likes of LaHaye in the way that you did -- well, I couldn't ask for anything more!

This has been great stuff.

John Hartley said...

Dear Ben and Kim,

Splendid, splendid! But let's not forget our foundations:

Saint Paul,
ahead of them all:
Told Peter off to his face:
"We're justified only by grace."

Yours in Christ - JOHN HARTLEY.

kim fabricius said...

Played hardball
When Pete
Wouldn't eat.

Daniel Imburgia said...

I am not sure I got the hang of this but here’s a few attempts.

Emmanuel Levinas
Always gave us a bother
About seeing the ‘Face’
Of the miserable ‘Other’

Moses (no last name)
Kept track of our flaws
cracked up the tablets
But salvaged the laws.
[He climbed up the mountain
Moisha good-times for all
when he got down that hill
He was Nosey buzzkill]

Jaques Derrida
Our assumptions abducted
Freed us from slumber
Our beds de-con(struc)—te/d

Pope Benedict
Kept the girls in their place
Though he ruled with a fist
In a temple of lace.

Heidegger the Nazi
Refused to repent
For Hitler, for Husserl,
For screwing Arendt.

Heidegger the Catholic
Tweaked the nose of Duns Scotus
But after Being on Time
No one took notice.

Heidegger the mystic
Put us under his spell
Only God can redeem us
From philosopher’s hell.

The god of Joel Olsteen
Scratched all our itches
And tickled our ears
With the promise of riches.

Spinoza the Jew
Thought things through
While grinding his lenses
And hypocrites too
He gave us the freedom
To part church and state
Eat burgers with cheese
On one single plate

Kierkegaard, soren
Seduced many for love
Leaped on the unknowin
Proved existence above.

The Baal shem Tov
Was a pal of Hashem
But the Goan of Vilna
Wouldn’t make him his friend.

And since I am a hillbilly songwriter and not an intellectual, my favorite is:

Hank Williams the first
Mighta lost his long fight
With his personal demons, but
He still saw the light.


Anonymous said...

Theology? Boring? pshhhhh.

James D.G. Dunn,
had loads of fun,
writing a theology of Paul,
and making zero recourse to the history of exegesis at all.

N.T. Wright,
from solution to plight,
read only E.P. Sanders,
and called Luther blander.

E.P. Sanders,
the scholar who panders,
to rabbinic tradition,
which should trump any Christian!

Krister Stendahl,
will most certainly send-all,
individuals to hell,
who from communal consciousness fell.

Fat said...

A couple of contemporary theologians oft heard in this blog (and occasionally in lectures).

He doesn't make your heart sing or soar
earthbound it beats in synchronicity with the poor,
the lame and the blind at Heaven's gates.
God's away on business
and Tom Waits waits.

His Folk said the answer is in the wind's blow.
They said "You are a prophet." and he said "No I'm not".
The answer was a long time comin' 'cause the train was slow
Then he told them Jesus and Dylan's prophet deal was shot.

Anonymous said...

What I love about these is how much they reveal of the graffiti writers theological convictions.

It's also an extraordinarily narrow range of theologians limited to a very small corner of the world.

Daniel Imburgia said...

@ anonymous, Good point, and I am curious about what my choices of: Heidegger, Osteen, the Goan of Vilna, Derrida, the Pope, kierkegaard and Hank Williams Might have revealed about myself (other than my extremely narrow perspective)? obliged.

Ben Myers said...

Daniel, I thought your philosophical poems were marvellous — not to mention Fat's poems about Dylan and Tom Waits!

I wouldn't worry too much about Anon's comment: some people always have to grumble when they see others enjoying themselves...

Jon said...

Yeah? I seriously wonder what anon is talking about. I see love for theological conservatives and liberals, Catholics and Protestants, etc. What does he want? More people from the global south and Asia? I'm seriously perplexed.

kim fabricius said...

Here you go Anonymous:

Kosuke Koyama
Was a theological charmer:
He said God is hot, but slow,
Like a waterbuffalo.

Andrew Sung Park
In Minjung made his mark
With his original take on sin and
The concept of han.

Happy, grumpy-guts?

Unknown said...

Hi Ben,

I seem to remember an older blog post in which you recommend starting with a particular portion of Barth's KD, but now I can't find it. Where would you advice a Barthian novice to begin?



Bruce Cole said...

Etienne Gilson
Drank a Pilsen (!):
He felt so 'etrange'
After reading Garrigou-Lagrange

Bruce Cole said...

Okay, so here's another:

William Frend
Went a bit 'round the bend
At the Donatist bustin'
Engaged by Augustine

Bruce Cole said...

This is addicting when you don't want to work:

Archbishop Rowan
Of an evening sits sewin'
While Catherine Pickstock
Likes to nightclub and rock

Sidney Smith
Couldn't put up with
Ill-lit rooms;
They gave him the glooms

Henri de Lubac
Had to take stock
Of natures posed as dual;
It struck him as cruel

Philosophers at Oxford
Never got bored
When Elizabeth Anscombe
Bumped her head on the transom

Austine Farrar
Didn't get far
Convincing Jack Lewis
To think much of Aquinas

Hans Kung
Didn't get hung
When told by Wojtyla,
"We'll see ya!"

Hans Jonas
Thought it a Gnostic Studies bonus
When Kurt Rudolph
Said, "I'll take up where you left off"

Bruce Cole said...

Oh, what the hell:

Sir Kenelm Digby
Shouted with glee,
"You see before you, sir,
"A pirate-philosopher!"

Jacques (and Raissa)
Took out the eraser:
Made a marriage 'blanc'
What a plonk!

Bishop Butler
Couldn't be subtler;
He refused to squabble
About what's probable

Saint Bonaventure
Had a life of adventure
His Itinerary
Wasn't just literary

Gillian Evans
Was at sixes and sevens
Setting off a commotion
About her Cambridge promotion

Anselm (from Aosta)
Was not an imposter
His ontological proof
Wasn't a spoof

Leibniz and Newton
Were held back from shootin'
About that essential
Calculus called differential

Bruce Cole said...

Karl Rahner
His theology a goner
Just a loose end
About a possible girl friend

Saint Bernard
and Abelard
Were never at ease
(Never mind Heloise)

tortoise said...

Rene Girard
can't be trusted in a game of cards;
but when he sneaks a peek at your hand
it's just mimetic angst, you understand.

Unknown said...

Kim and Ben
I wonder when
The praise of the acolyte
Will lose it's bite

tortoise said...

William Barclay
saw through a glass darkly.
Which, given that he hoped his books would be the plain man's tonic,
is somewhat ironic.

Beth said...

Hey! Saw your blog today and found your poetry fascinating. Thought you might be interested in a brand new prepublication offer from Logos Bible Software regarding Adolf von Harnack! http://www.logos.com/products/prepub/details/6871. Thanks and let me know if i can help in anyway!

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