Thursday, February 26, 2015

current internet blog-crush...

...is "Karl Barth for Dummies".

The beauty that is the Internet has managed, perhaps miraculously, to combine the twentieth-century's most important Protestant theologian** with the 140 character limit of Twitter.  Voila!  Little Barth snippets, almost like theological Molotov cocktails, to lob at unsuspecting friends, co-workers, and fellow bloggernistas.

[I would warn against lobbing too many Barth quotations at family members.  Potentially disruptive]

E.g.,

In the Church of Jesus Christ there can and should be no non-theologians. Karl

or
is the closest thing to the of God. Karl

or
There are no courageous deeds in theology without the knowledge that by our power alone nothing at all can be done. Karl


 Great stuff--read more here and here among other sources.  Internet resources on Barth almost equal his own theological production.  I have always appreciated Barth's overwhelming theological style.  He was the first theologian I read--back in my Protestant days--whose intellectual acumen matched his Christian fervor.  My parents, both of whom had attended a mainline Protestant divinity school in the mid-1960s, much more preferred Tillich and Bultmann.  While I didn't grow up with The Shaking of the Foundations being quoted at the dinner table, I can look back and see the influences, especially in contrast to the evangelical/Pentecostal milieu of southwest Missouri.  In Barth I found rebellion against both evangelical cultural arrogance and theological revisionism.  (Mom and Dad once commented on seeing a complete set of the Church Dogmatics, and I vaguely recall blithely blurting out something like "How else would you read it?" as if one could consume all 13 volumes easily like a few twinkies and a Mountain Dew.  Barth's theology is not a cute, self-assured, self-congratulating "nice" Christianity.  Barth resembled the heavy metal music I followed throughout my teens.  Metal attests to the reality of abnegation--your own or somebody else's--and Barth's theology, if nothing else, makes it abundantly clear that humanity should not be the starting point for theological reflection.  St. Peter's Basilica, Metallica or Iron Maiden, Church Dogmatics-- resonances lurk there amid the surface incongruencies.

One could ask, with some legitimacy, about the actual possibility of Barthian blogging.  It can be done, but lacking perhaps the self-centeredness upon which some many blogs--and this particular post!--rely so heavily.  Here is one Catholic example.  For this Spiritual Diabetes blog Barth functions more as a reminder and a challenge.  The transition this reflects will be explored in future posts, as will the interaction more generally between Barthian and Roman Catholic perspectives will be explored in future posts, but it must be noted that it's a well-trod path with diverse voices commenting.  Like a great Gothic cathedral or pilgrimage church, one visit is not enough--and we must bear in mind that the Gospel inspired every nook, corner, and great vista we appreciate.

**Sorry, fans of Tillich & Bultmann (at least). 

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