theologian at the beach

June 10, 2008

i think i’m going to institute an international holiday, theologian at the beach day.

today i spent the afternoon stretched out in the shade of overhanging trees at hartigan beach. with my favorite hat slid low over my forehead, the sun beating down on my bare back, and my toes digging in the sand, i poured over von balthasar’s introduction to barth’s theology. the book is excellent, coming highly recommended by cindy’s fr. bosco. the beach is better. put the two together, and magic happens.

the sandy pages of von balthasar’s the theology of karl barth are highly worth your time. he traces lines of continuity and development in barth, his move from dialectical theology to the analogy of faith. the book gives some much needed context to my hard-fought progress through church dogmatics.

between swatting flying ants and rubbing sand off my coffee mug, i jotted this passage down in my commonplace book. von balthasar draws it from barth’s adolescent prolegomena to christian dogmatics. it’s something that may have been very helpful in my own adolescent theological flailing about.

Recent New Testament exegesis has been influenced by phenomenology, and Kierkegaard’s anti-Hegelianism is a philosophy too. … We all wear our own special pair of glasses, without which we would see nothing at all. We must use some framework to unlock the biblical message. We do not intend to save theology by waging war on a particular philosophy. … Using the same philosophical presuppositions, a man can hear the Word aright or wrongly. Philosophy does not threaten theology because it is philosophy, or a particular brand of philosophy. It becomes a threat only when its relative influence on our hearing of the Word is not taken into consideration.

to participate in international theologian at the beach day, roll up your jeans, grab your swimtrunks, or slip into a bikini, and reach for your nearest theological tome (the denser the better). then walk down to your nearest lakeshore, city park, forest preserve, or trout stream, and relax in the sun with your karl barth-equivalent.

(this may need to develop into a weekly habit for me.)