I studied theology once. That is to say, I attended lectures, wrote essays and generally engaged on the pretty humourless, unmusical and frankly tedious activity of meekly turning out what my professors wanted me to say, thereby being considered bright and focused. The spin-off was that I got to read some interesting people’s work.
Karl Barth always amused and surprised. In his own words,
“The angels laugh at old Karl. They laugh at him because he tries to grasp the truth about G in a book of Dogmatics. They laugh at the fact that volume follows volume and each is thicker than the previous ones. As they laugh, they say to one another…”Look! Here he comes now with his little pushcart full of volumes of the Dogmatics!” In this manner the great corpus of his theological investigations is finally placed within the parentheses of the comic perspective in a simple confession of the humanity of all theology. The books fit nicely in a small wheelbarrow .”
The angels remind us, with hoots of laughter, probably, that all theology is just ‘thinking’. Dear old Karl, with all his academic bulk reminds us that humour is simply the opposite of all self-admiration and self-praise. As such, he lists humour with gratitude and humility as the proper responses to the honour that God accords us. He goes on to say “The man honoured by God finds himself …extremely odd as the object of this esteem, and this incongruity is the source of (spiritual) laughter, and is not the contrast between man himself and the honour done him by God really too great for man to take himself ceremoniously, and not to laugh at himself, in his quality as its bearer and possessor ?”
It’s good to see ourselves as we are, ludicrously limited, making an arse of ourselves with frequent, hilarious repetitiveness. God, equally ludicrously, is not and does not.
Here’s Karl, poking his pipe in his ear. Thanks to nakedpastor.com.