Saturday, September 18, 2010

Smoking, theologically speaking?

Marcus Borg, in Putting Away Childish Things: A Tale of Modern Faith, tells a marvelous smoker's tale. "Do you know what Karl Barth said about smoking and theologians? Well, he said that you can tell what kind of theologian somebody is by what they smoke. If they smoke cigarettes they're liberal; if they smoke cigars, they're orthodox; and if they smoke a pipe, they're neo-orthodox. Then somebody asked Barth, 'What if they don't smoke?' And he said, 'then, they are no theologian at all.'"

Rodney Clapp, in the September 21, 2010 Christian Century, writes that “Few things better slow down a busy day and bring it in for a relaxed landing than a burning stogie and an iced bourbon.” Clapp gives away that he must be neo-orthodox. Of course that’s not bad company.

This week’s article by Clapp is entitled “The Nicotine Journal.” His opening paragraphs are reflections on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison, (the newest edition from Fortress is now available, which I highly recommend). Specifically, Clapp recounts Bonhoeffer’s continued reference to the pleasures of smoking. Clapp goes on to cite the smoking habits of other renowned theologians in order to build his case for the power of smoking in, what I might call, the community building derived from joining friends and colleagues in theological conversations, while enjoying the relaxing benefits of tobacco. His points are convincing as tells us, “it’s never too late to start.”

Of course, Clapp provides the politically and health appropriate disclaimers in order to keep the letters to the editor at a minimum. I’m anxious to get the next copy to see who takes exception, or commends.

I’ll be back later. I need to go outside for a few minutes.

1 comment:

Josh said...

This seems like yet another interesting way to justify the use of tobacco. Too bad there has to be an excuse for good conversation. I wonder what Mr. Barth or Mr. Clapp would call a theologian that smokes crack? Would they be neo-orthodox or liberal? Sarcasm, of course.